For those who don't know, I have recently quit my IT job of 3 years at AFS Logistics (in a field that I was in for 9 years) to become a biblical counselor. I was hired by Biblical Counseling & Training Ministries of Jackson, MS (www.bctministries.com) to start an affiliate office in my hometown of Shreveport, LA. Yesterday was my first day full-time.
This is the kind of thing I have been wanting to do vocationally for years now (since seminary). In many ways it is a dream come true to be able to take the grace and truth of Jesus Christ and apply it to peoples lives in a transforming way. So is that why I've left my IT job? Because this offer is a dream come true? That may be a secondary reason, but if that my primary, ultimate reason for taking the job, I am in trouble.
Because, you see, this "dream come true" could fail. This is no guaranteed success. If the church partnerships don't happen, if the counseling referrals don't come in, if the donations don't come in to cover folks who can't pay for counseling, this could be a failure. A flop. A puff in the wind. I could be like Radioshack, who is considering bankruptcy for the third time. Or like Outback, who (I believe) is closing all of their stores due to massive losses in the last two years. Now, it is tremendously helpful to have a main office that takes care of accounting, billing, training, marketing, website, 501(c)3 status, and so on. I don't know if I could do this if it weren't for having all of that done for me. But still, there is no guarantee of success. If my reason for leaving a steady IT job is because of a dream job, I am setting myself up for a nightmare of anxiety and disappointment.
Because if the success of my new job is my hope and peace, what is going to happen when that success is threatened? What happens when the money is short one month? What happens when a counseling session goes bad or I lose a church partnership that I was heavily dependent upon? I will become anxious, disappointed, despairing. I will be like Israel, looking back at my IT job saying, "Oh how I miss the garlic and leeks and meat pots of Egypt!" No, a dream job cannot be my primary reason for leaving. I have to have a better reason. I have to have a more stable reason. I must have a holy rationale for this risk.
So what is it? As I asked myself this several months ago, I thought of a scene from 2 Samuel 10. The Israeli army has been sent into battle against the Ammonites. But in a scene akin to Braveheart, they did not know the Ammonites had hired an extra 30,000+ Syrians to flank Israel from behind. So Joab, the Israeli general, sets up part of the army against the Syrians and sets his brother, Abishai, against the Ammonites with the rest of the army. And as these enemies close in on them from all sides, in what was likely certain death, Joab says this to his brother: "Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”
What an incredible call to courage! That phrase "let us be courageous" is more literally translated "let us play the man for our people." Maybe that doesn't speak to women, but to me it speaks to an instinctual desire to protect, to fight for, even to lay my life down for those in need of help. Hooah!
But did you hear what his courage consisted of? It wasn't, "God will prosper us in this holy crusade, so let's fight!" It wasn't, "God ensures us we will come out of this battle with our lives and limbs in tact, so be brave!" No. Victory, life, limbs - those things are not guaranteed, and so they are not sufficient places of hope and peace and courage. Joab admits as much, saying, "May the Lord do what seems good to him"! He has no idea what's about to happen. In fact, there's a good chance he may die. But he risks everything, leaving the success or failure up to God.
And then comes the holy rationale. Joab presses on in courage "for our people and for the cities of our God." Joab risks his life for God's people, not because the people are worth it, but because God is worth it! Joab risks his livelihood for the cities of his God, not because the city is worthy of such devotion, but because the God to whom the city belongs is worthy! Compared to the glory of God, Joab's life is cheap. Compared to the worth of God, Joab's life is disposable. And so he recklessly throws himself into battle because, win or lose, the God of Israel deserves it. (And he does win by the way.)
And so, in summary, the holy rationale behind Joab's risk is simply that God is worthy of such risk. The Apostle Paul understood this well when he headed toward the trap that awaited him in Jerusalem, saying, "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
That is what I'm holding onto as I go into this new vocational venture. My situation is a little less extreme than Joab's. But only quantitatively so. God's glory is at stake in my hometown of Shreveport, LA. God's grace and truth need to be worked into the lives of the people of this city. In comparison to such things, my livelihood is cheap and my career is disposable. And so, by and for God's grace I press on into this career as a biblical counselor. May the Lord do what seems good to him!
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This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.