The best career counselor

A Christian Science perspective.

Changing careers isn't always easy, especially in the current economic climate. Some people may feel ready to move on, but self-doubt or fear may stop them in their tracks. Others may not know how to choose a new career.

While job fairs, want ads, and networking may be helpful, I've found that the best career counselor is God. He not only provides talents but also opens the way to develop them, placing us in positions where we can best express them and reach our full potential.

Recognizing the source of our talents as God dispels limitations that can derail our self-worth – fear of inadequacy, lack of experience, attachment to past accomplishments, age, or gender discrimination. God-given talents are not static, because they are continuously being manifested by God, through us, in new and more expansive ways. Each individual as God's beloved child naturally includes and expresses talents such as intelligence, ingenuity, leadership, reliability, organization, and productivity – and these qualities are needed everywhere.

Since progress is impelled by God, there can be no backward steps. Just as the oak tree can't return to being an acorn, neither can the children of God go backward. Each one is already a complete idea.

Divine Mind, another name for the God who is our Father-Mother, would never make an extraneous idea that could be obsolete or could outlive its usefulness. Since all of us are needed as God's ideas, there must be places for all, regardless of the state of the job market.

Cherishing these concepts quiets fear and fosters an expectancy of good, allowing us to hear God's direction. Along these lines, Mary Baker Eddy described God as "our helper" who "guides every event of our careers" ("Unity of Good," pp. 3-4).

This took on new meaning after I finished a Master of Science degree in geology. Immediately after graduation, I found a job in my field and in a city I liked. I soon discovered, however, that my dream career wasn't my dream at all. After almost seven years of training, I wondered what on earth to do and how my skills could transfer.

I started reading books and combing the want ads for ideas – but came up dry. I felt troubled, and so it was natural for me to pray. As I listened for God's guidance, I was reminded to identify God as the source of my talents. Since they come from Him, they have a spiritual basis. Lifting them out of a particular material model (like hydrology in my case) showed me that they are transferable everywhere and that I should stop limiting myself with labels of past experience. Instead of relying on prior accomplishments, I restructured my résumé according to the spiritual qualities I'd employed.

I also wondered if I might have to start in an entry-level position with a salary cut. But then I remembered this statement from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mrs. Eddy: "In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown" (p. 74). Rather than being willful, I humbly chose to follow God's lead.

That's when I began to think more about newness. I wanted to be open to what God was telling me and not look for answers in conventional, familiar ways. I started to take different routes home. I talked with people on the train and asked them where they were employed, whether they enjoyed their work, and whether their companies were hiring.

One day, after a computer class, I asked a fellow student those questions. A former teacher now working at a government think-tank, she said she really liked her company. It was hiring from a variety of professions, looking for thinkers with fresh perspectives.

That sounded like my kind of place. My classmate said I could use her as a reference, and I applied. When I was called for an interview, there was no job description for the position. Initially, that was unnerving. But then I realized it didn't matter; I could trust God. And I was hired as a systems analyst.

Later, I noticed a want ad from this company, describing a systems analyst position. I'm sure if that description had been available during my job search, it would have scared me off. I was grateful that I'd been following the divine Mind's leading, instead of going the conventional route.

That job opened a new world to me, and my salary increased substantially. During my seven years there, I was able to move around the company and eventually manage my own projects. Each step was a step of progress.

Although a career change can seem daunting, trusting in God's plan can bring peace and assurance. We each have a mission and purpose, and God provides the place and opportunity to glorify Him.

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