It should be no surprise that our jobs, which in many instances account for sixty percent of our waking hours, are a fertile field for regrets. And it should be of no surprise that God cares about you and your work.
Work is not a curse from God, nor is it just a means to make a living to support ourselves and our families. Work is not important only if it provides a platform to share the gospel. Instead, our jobs have value in and of themselves. God is a worker, and He created us in His image to be workers as well.
So what is it that we are most prone to regret about our work?
Common Sources Of Regret About Work
Wrong Choice of Career
As you think about your own career, it might be helpful to ask yourself several questions:
- Am I satisfied with my present job? Why or why not?
- Do I have the necessary skills to excel in my job?
- What is the major factor that caused me to choose my profession?
- Did a parent, teacher, or some other authority figure pressure me in any way to choose this profession?
- Do I receive regular confirmation from other people that I am good at what I do?
Lack of Perceived Success
Another catalyst for regret in our work is our failure to enjoy the level of success we think we should achieve. Sometimes we can blame our lack of success on factors beyond our control, but it may be the result of our own slothfulness or poor judgment.
Excessive Time Spent at Work
Consider this poem:
“As Christmases come and go,
Leaving footprints of time in the snow,
I despair for the years spent without joy or tears
With my children I’ll now never know.”
Robin Koskinen composed that poem late one December night as he drove home. He had been convicted by the endless hours he spent at work that caused him to miss out on much of his daughters’ lives. But one day, Koskinen resigned to spend more time with his family. Alhough he has since found other employment, he has vowed never to allow too many hours at the office to become the cause of deep regret.
Failure to Take Risks
Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.”
Many times we think that we are limiting the possibility of regret by refusing to take risks. But studies have shown that the opposite is true. Author Ralph Keyes concludes that those who take risks and fail have fewer regrets than those who considered taking a risk but failed to act. The first group consoles themselves by saying, “At least we tried.” The second group is condemned to a lifetime of wondering what might have been.
How To Minimize Career Regrets
Discover Your Lifework
- Your lifework should utilize both your gifts and your interests (Philippians 2:13).
a. What needs in the world do I feel passionate about?
b. What is my single greatest gift?
- Your lifework should be something you love doing.
- Your lifework should provide you with an adequate income (1 Timothy 5:8).
- Your lifework should be confirmed by others (Proverbs 11:14).
Refuse to Be Stuck in Your Profession
Realize that your present job and past jobs have value. If indeed you do change professions in search of your lifework, you need not view your present or past career as a “mistake.” Your job is a part of God’s plan for a well ordered universe.
View your job as a “stepping stone” instead of a plateau. Every second that elapses is moving us closer to the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom, so every job we take is a step closer to our confrontation with God.
God doesn’t waste experiences on us. Think about the “career changes” the apostle Paul experienced: from Pharisee to missionary to church planter to tentmaker to author. Much of his life was spent as a nonbeliever, some of it was spent in prison, but none of it was wasted. God used all of Paul’s experiences for His purpose.
Understand the Importance of Diligence
The wisest man who ever lived also understood the relationship between diligence, success, and regret. Proverbs 10:4 says, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.” Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
Solomon says that the person who fails to exercise diligence in his work will one day fall into poverty, servitude, and discontent. And even more painful than the sluggard’s circumstances will be the realization that those circumstances could have been different if he had been diligent in his labor.
The purpose of this section is not to turn you into a workaholic. As we have already seen, too much time at work can leave us with many regrets about some other important life areas. But when you are on the job, are you giving your work your best efforts? Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
Don’t Overestimate the Importance of Work
While the Bible teaches that whatever vocation we have is a calling from God, we need to guard against overemphasizing the importance of work. The person who is determined to live his life without regrets will understand that work is an important part—but just one part—of his existence.
What about you? Have you discovered your lifework yet?
At the end of most days are you able to say, “I gave my job my best efforts today?”
Is your work in balance with other areas of your life, including your relationship with God?
Full Passage: Selected Scriptures