Look in, Look out, Look up: Choosing a Career Path

enjoy your work!

Enjoy Your Work! by ahmad jaa

When my sons were 13 and 16 there was a lot of talk around our house about college and career paths. I don’t remember my parents conversationally digging too deeply into the subject. They simply wanted me to do what made me happy. I distinctly remember thinking that a lot of things would make me happy, therefore choosing a career path was confusing. I had interests in many things and the word happy was too vague for me. I entered college not sure about what I wanted as a major. Before the beginning of my junior year I settled on becoming a writer. I earned my communications/journalism degree and that was that.

I suppose my personality is different from my parents. I share their sentiments and want my children to choose a career path that makes them happy and in one sense the decision is that simple. Just think about what interests you and where your gifts lie and get the training and education so you can master that trade. Simple, right? Well, not for me. The problem is I have had a nagging sense that there is more to the story that would help them on this journey. But what? Hum… Keep praying. That’s all I know to do.

*Months Pass*

We were in Florida on vacation and I listened to a sermon one morning on the beach that was an answer to my prayer. It is a sermon by Tim Keller called Made for Stewardship. One thing I love about his sermons is his ability to look at real life and connect it to the hope of the gospel. Even when I feel convicted by his message I am elated with the hope of the redemption Jesus bought for me. The idea that encouraged me regarding my boys future careers is, “Look in, Look out, Look up,” Keller connected the gospel to work. This was the missing piece that was nagging me for months.

There isn’t anything wrong with choosing a career path because it will bring happiness. In fact it’s the right thing to do but after listening to the sermon I understood why and how to connect the gospel to choosing a career path for the sake of happiness.

My sons and I listened to the sermon together. As opportunity arises we will have discussions about it. The next time conversations revolve around college and careers we will have more to talk about than we did before and hopefully they will get a sense of the richness God has in store for them through their work.

Living Outside the Lines Enjoys Work…

… by Looking in, Looking out, and Looking up

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Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.


  1. My oldest daughter is always tossing around career choices; she's a hairdresser one day and a fashion designer the next. I listen with understanding that her life picture is still blurry, and I tell her that I want her to do whatever God lays on her heart.

    • How old is your daughter? She is fortunate to have you to encourage her to seek God's path for her. The sermon I tagged here helped me focus specifically on the details for my boys to consider: where has God gifted them, who will benefit, be served, and give God the glory. I need so much help. Thanks for reading.

  2. Hmm this is interesting. We have girls about the same age, and are going through much similar discussions. Like your parents, we just want our kids to be happy but, like you, we realise it's not completely that simple. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I grew up with the Christian guilt that I had to somehow contribute more. That writing (particularly writing fiction) wasn't a noble enough profession. I tried all kinds of ways to get around it, thinking maybe if I wrote 'moralising fiction' that would be ok, but to no avail. So for many years I denied myself and sought "noble" studies and work despite my heart not truly being in them. It took a long time for me to give myself permission to write. To recognise that storytelling brings beauty into people's lives, and we need those who bring beauty and pleasure and joy alongside our doctors and aid workers and social workers. I still struggle with a sense that I am not contributing, but I am getting better at recognising that I am only playing one part in a much larger whole. How bereft we would all be if every fiction writer stopped writing because they felt they weren't contributing! Books written by others have shaped my childhood and adult life. I am slowly learning to honour them in my career, but learning to honour myself.

    • Naomi, I'm so happy you are challenging yourself to follow your dream. We need story tellers as much as we need doctors and carpenters. I know it took courage for you to step up to the plate and strike a blow into the fiction world but I'm glad you're going for it.

      If ancient story tellers had not told their stories how would the generations that followed understand anything about life and living. How would they progress, grow, and learn? I think stories make us civilized. God chose to use stories to teach us. He used narrative, poetry, provers, historical fiction, letters, parables, and maybe others. If it's his way, then it's ours too. I wish you well in your writing and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. I don't remember my parents discussing specific majors with me either. Maybe because I always wanted to be an English major. My mom has always been supportive of my writing and believing that I could do something with it, but she was also practical and encouraged a "day job" route that would give me the flexibility to continue writing. I appreciated that measured encouragement.

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