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. The Bible, however, especially Christ Jesus' life and teachings, shows us that what we are doing when we put God first differs radically from this conventional view. We discover God as He is, and man as God made him. God is the loving Father-Mother who creates man complete-- loved, provided for, satisfied, and well able to think and act in obedience to his creator.
It's natural that God, who is infinite Spirit, would create His own beloved child to be like Himself. This means, of course, that man is spiritual. And further it means that resources, including all that blesses and sustains man's living, are spiritual in their nature. So, there is enough for each one. Of course, making this practical in the nitty-gritty of our daily living takes effort on our part. But when we put serving God first, our work takes on a different light. The many little details in our responsibilities may remain the same, but our vision and our ability will grow because our understanding of who we are as God's child is growing as we live out His purpose. In this way, we see His government as the actual governing force in our work--every facet of it. As the Founder of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, says in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The term Science, properly understood, refers only to the laws of God and to His government of the universe, inclusive of man. From this it follows that business men and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity'' (p. 128).
Oh, it is good to advance in our work! As we learn to submit all of what we do to fulfilling God's purpose for us, we'll find happiness and satisfaction every day on the job--regardless of our status or position. And our advancement will be something we see daily in our relation to God. It will be dependent only on that, never on another person.