When the Calling Isn't Prestigious: Choosing a Career Not for the Money
When the Calling Isn’t Prestigious: Choosing a Career Not for the Money
By Lauren Kornegay
Our culture places a lot of value on prestige, glamour, and success. Of course, no one wants to admit that they hold these judgements in such high esteem; it’s just our natural way - we hold certain jobs, lifestyles, even people above others.
When you live in a society like ours, bearing the sin tendencies we do, our inclination is to want to achieve – at least mine is. Therefore, when I was called to something our culture casts as lowly, I fought it every step of the way.
What does it mean when you feel God whispering for you to do something that is not valued by anyone, maybe even by you?
This is where I have found myself, over the last nine years of my life. When I was in high school, I felt a whisper that I did not want to listen to simply because what the Lord asked of me wasn’t wrapped up in the success story I had dreamed up for my life. I ignored a beckoning from the most High.
Thankfully, the Lord did not leave me in my selfish petulance. He has more grace for me than that. Over the next three years, He worked on my heart and opened my eyes to see Himself in places and people in which I never believed He could dwell. I finally listened to the call and finally submitted myself to something I never would have chosen for myself, something in my own nature I would never want to do, and some days I still don’t really feel like doing.
Finally reaching this decision was the easy part – the hard part would come in the pursuit of it. I was never met with outright disgust, or persecution, or things many of our brothers and sisters face daily, but I was met with offhanded comments and beliefs by people at every turn.
People would voice their opinions on my decision to study Special Education at a top tier private university with a sense of credulity – “Why would you pay so much money to just become a teacher?” “You’re so smart…don’t you want to do something else?” “Public education is a waste of your career.”
Even once I got to my university, my peers and occasionally professors presented questions like these, or if not actually voicing them, the air of judgement always existed when asked what my major was.
To my people-pleasing sinful self, this struck a chord. I felt like Jonah on the ship fleeing to Tarshish; I knew what I was supposed to be doing, but I still wanted to go the other direction.
Shouldn’t I be doing something more prestigious? Surely God would want me to do something where I could be successful in worldly ways – that surely seemed more appealing.
Yet all throughout this, I clearly heard the Lord. I don’t speak empty words. This is what I have for you.
Despite moments of questioning myself, I continued with the choice I made. I moved to a small town in Kansas – far from the lights of the big cities that I felt I deserved to be in. I began work as a special education teacher in a public school in the middle of a cornfield (literally).
I did all this not because of my own inclination, but because I chose to walk in the direction the Lord asked of me, not because it was glamorous, but because I chose to be obedient.
“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.” – 1 John 5:3-4
Did you catch that? I sure did not because it has taken almost the last ten years of my life of God telling me this for me to finally understand – all of it matters. Every small act, every servant hearted person, all our seemingly meaningless days, relationships, work.
This means that I show my love for my God when I teach a child our culture deems less significant.
This means that I show my love for my God when I empty the dishwasher for my husband.
This means that I show my love for my God in the day to day.
This conquers the world more than any success I can achieve on my own.
We must believe that what God says is true, even when it does not feel good, or popular, or fun. We must follow Him, even when it costs our pride, our reputations, or our plans.
If I truly believe that He is good, then I believe that what He calls me to is good.
If I truly believe that He is Sovereign, then I believe that His plan for me is purposeful.
If I believe that He brought my Savior into the world from a teenage girl in an insignificant town, that He has always used those with little renown to declare his Kingdom, then why shouldn’t I believe that he can do his own glorious work through my seemingly mundane days?
You see the key here, that I am still learning, is that it doesn’t have to meet the world’s standards for it to be important work to my Great God. It just has to be obedient. Me being obedient to what the Lord calls me to do – in my job, in my heart, with my husband, to my family and friends - that matters.
I have seen Jesus through the quiet work and love others have shown in my life. I shouldn’t be so prideful as to think that I must achieve some great earthly feat in order for Jesus to do a work in me.
He has done His marvelous work through ordinary, quiet, unsuspecting people since the beginning of time – and He can make the mundane glorious in you and in me. Thanks be to God.