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Dear Salt&Light,

I am married, with one child, and have worked in advertising sales for 15 years. I am now thinking of making a mid-career switch. Writing has been a growing passion for me – I have been serving on the editorial and social media team at my church for the past 10 years and I have also been picking up photography skills. However I’m assuming that what I draw in the future would be much less than what I’m earning right now. How can I discern what is God’s call for me and whether making this move is right? 

Joshua T, 39, Advertising sales manager 

Every career switch has its fair share of considerations and I’m glad that you are taking the time to consider your options deeply.

From what I gather, you wish to make a career switch to a new area of work that you are passionate about, but you are not sure whether this makes practical financial sense and you also want to discern if this career switch is aligned with God’s plan for you. You are now at a crossroad.

Abraham also faced a similar situation when he was called by God to leave the land of Haran. In leaving Haran, Abraham also had to leave the people he knew for a new, unknown land (Genesis 12).

Simon Peter and Andrew also left their fishing livelihood when they responded to Jesus’ call to follow Him (Matthew 4:18). We can only imagine their doubts, concerns and struggles before making the decision to make changes to their lives and career.

Behind every career switch, there is a motivation factor. It may be a “push” factor such as stressful work culture or a “pull” factor such as better career prospects. Knowing our motivations allows us to search within ourselves and understand why we are inclined to make a switch. It helps to put things in perspective as to whether we are making the switch for the right or wrong reasons.

In the case of Abraham, Peter and Andrew, their motivation was to be obedient towards God’s call. This call became their cornerstone for the rest of their lives. 

What is your motivation for making a career switch?

Theologian John Piper put forth some questions and biblical text for Christian believers to consider when deciding between work options:

Does the desired job help you grow in devotion towards Christ?

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 ESV)

Will the desired job help you fulfil God’s great purpose of exalting Christ among the unreached?

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Is the desired job worthy of your best energies?

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV)

Making God the centre of our careers is what He wants. After all, we work for more than one-third of our lives, and our careers become a vessel for us to serve God and live out His commandments in wherever we are placed and whatever we do.

While we have made God the centre of our careers, we also have to consider the practical aspects associated with making a career switch.

These considerations go beyond us. They extend to our loved ones, our family and our social circles. It involves planning, discussions about making the switch and contingencies if things do not work out.

What are the practical aspects you should think about?

Consider these questions associated with career switches.

These are based on Professor Nancy K Schlossberg’s transition theory. She is a professor emerita of counselling psychology at the University of Maryland who has written extensively on managing career and life transitions.

What is the current work situation like?
What are some alternative options for work?
What may happen if the switch took place?

Who can you count on to make a successful switch?
Who can support you if you face struggles in making a switch?
What are some institutions or communities that will support you through your switch?

What are your reasons for making a switch?
How will the switch impact you and the people around you?
What do you have to do to ensure a successful switch?

What are the steps you have to take to make the switch?
What are some risks and mitigation steps you have to consider?

Like a checklist, answering these questions will help you make the practical considerations in making a career switch.

Talking through your thoughts also greatly helps. You can share your thoughts with someone you trust or a certified career coach to get additional perspectives. 

God’s will for our lives is always to wrap our lives around His will. With this in mind, may our Lord Jesus Christ guide you in this journey as you put God at the centre of your career.

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About the author

Gerald Tan

Gerald Tan is a certified career coach with Avodah People Solutions. He works with people going through career transitions and he helps them to be clear about their career directions, their abilities and strategise action steps to navigate their transitions.