Career Advancement

The Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 1994 | Go to article overview

Career Advancement


IS it wrong to want to "get ahead" in our careers? It is, if it means aggressively muscling out rivals using any means, fair or foul. But if we think of "getting ahead" as working and growing so that we may be of greater service to God and to our fellowman, then it's not only acceptable, but very important to advance this way. Career and professional advancement is generally felt to require a bit of aggressiveness. Watch it, though! The self-interest of aggressiveness can, in fact, dampen our advancement. Being overly aggressive can devalue our work, which should serve God and His larger purpose, and leave us instead enslaved to work that serves only a personal, ambitious self. Advancement can indeed take place without the aggressiveness that seems prized in many working situations today. Consider what the Bible tells us of the career of Joseph. The book of Genesis, in the Old Testament, records that Joseph was sold as a slave and taken to Egypt. Nonetheless, he rose to a position of responsibility in his employer's household. Even when a false charge resulted in his imprisonment, Joseph retained his trust in virtue and humility instead of resorting to arrogance or aggressiveness. Clearly, Joseph placed the law of God, which had always ruled his heart, first in his work, as well. As a result, he later advanced to an even more responsible position in Egypt, and was instrumental in saving that and neighboring lands from the effects of famine. How can we possibly account for his rapid rise in service to the government? Joseph no doubt had rivals. What made him different? Wasn't it his deep love for God and for the larger, more spiritually-minded, vision that he carried of God using him for the purposes of good? Joseph must have glimpsed God's supreme rule in the affairs of men, and he stayed with that spiritual vision, even when things grew difficult. Work can sometimes reinforce the inaccurate picture a person might hold of himself or herself as a limited, perhaps inadequate, mortal struggling to advance beyond other mortals. And, of course, the strain of that struggle can wear one down a bit. …

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