Building our careers on a firm foundation
Today’s contributor arrived at her dream college only to find that self-focused ambitions left her wanting. But when the insight that everyone’s true purpose is to express God’s love prompted her to rethink her motives, everything got better.
It’s a vivid description: One house, built on the rock by a “wise man,” was able to withstand the floods and winds that came. But the other, built on the sand, was demolished.
That’s how Jesus described things in a parable encouraging his followers to build their lives on a firm foundation of spiritual values – to live what he taught, instead of turning away from it (see Matthew 7:24-27).
The cornerstone of Jesus’ teaching is what he described as the great commandment, along with one like it: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.... [and] thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). I’ve come to find that embodying these unselfish, loving values leads to stability, progress, and joy.
I began grappling with these ideas when I started college. In high school, I had been very focused on my ambitious personal goal of attending a particular competitive college on the East Coast. Every decision I made was based on, “Will this help me get into the college of my dreams?”
I ended up getting accepted to my “dream school,” but when I got there, I discovered that my life was not magically transformed and completely perfect as I had imagined it would be. I recognized that I needed a deeper purpose than achieving selfish personal goals. On some level, I knew I had been building on sand, and I could see the wisdom of building on the rock of Christly love, the spiritual love Jesus expressed for all.
At that point, I began serious study of the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. What I learned became the blueprint for my life. God, the divine Mind, is the “great architect” (see Science and Health, p. 68). He has made each of us – not as self-centered mortals, but as the living expressions of His love, goodness, and harmony.
I prayed to understand God, Love, as our creator and to express more love for God and for everyone, including me. Instead of letting ego or self-will propel us, we can turn to God as we develop goals and ask for His guidance. I strove to listen intently for God’s direction and prayed to follow His leading – to express God-given spiritual qualities instead of asking Him for things (like a good grade on an exam or admission to a prestigious graduate school).
Because each of us reflects God, we are all capable of claiming and expressing His spiritual qualities. For example, if we’re preparing for an exam, we can pray to express peace, calm, confidence, insight, and intelligence, which is so much more vital than focusing on what grade we want. True success is achieved as we understand that God, not our personal ability, is the source of all good and of our capabilities.
As I prayed over time, steadily my ability to confidently express God’s qualities and to discern whether my actions were being led by God or personal ambition increased. This helped me as I continued my academic journey, working on a master’s degree and then a PhD, while also meeting the needs of my husband and young daughter. Although the path had some bumps along the way, each challenge was overcome as I humbly turned to God for answers.
Each of us can let our motives and actions be guided by God, strive to build our lives on the rock of Christly love, and experience the blessings this brings to us and to those around us.