Whether you’re entering into the workforce for the first time or you’ve been in it for decades and you’re considering a switch, the idea of a new job can be a tricky thing to navigate.
While Scripture doesn’t offer a specific verse that commands you to take a certain job (or not to take it), it does present a helpful principle for making decisions—especially big decisions.
In Luke 14, Jesus wants his disciples to know what they are getting into when it comes to following Him. He doesn’t want them assuming this next leg of their journey is going to be easy. Rather, He wants them eyes wide open about what it will cost them to be associated with Him. To get His point across, He uses two illustrations:
“For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.” (Luke 14:28-32)
His point? Wise people count the cost before rushing into a new arrangement, project, or agreement. They “sit down and calculate” what this endeavor might require and if they have the stamina (or the resources) to see it through. They “sit down and decide” if they are able to make this work. And if that goes for something as big as the decision to follow Jesus, it certainly goes for something like a work arrangement.
One way to “count the costs”—and the benefits—of a new job is to take our cues from Jesus here and sit down, pause, and ask some important questions. Here are some to consider:
- What people in my daily life will be most affected by this new job? Are the majority of those people on board with this?
- Is this a short-term job or a long-term job?
- Does this use my gifts in some way? (Note: no one job is going to use all of your strengths, but a long-term job should lean into your strengths to some degree).
- Is this something that could help develop the parts of my character that God might want to develop in this season of my journey?
- Is the compensation for this position on par with industry standards? (Another way of asking this by using a spectrum is does this position pay me sufficiently, comfortably, or generously?) Another thing to consider in the compensation conversation: Is there a bonus structure? Commission opportunities? Christmas bonuses, etc.?
- Is this a for-profit or non-profit company? How does this affect compensation and workload expectations?
- What’s the travel requirement?
- Does it require me to do anything overtly unethical?
- Am I alone or on a team? How does this square with my personality type (extrovert or introvert)?
- Is this position remote or in-person? How does this square with the needs of those I live with (family, roommates, etc.)?
- What’s the company culture like?
- What’s the vibe I get from my future boss, and how much proximity will I have to her/him? (ie, can I work for this person for years on end?)
- In what ways does this company view the family unit? (ie, is it family-friendly? Will I get subtly punished every time my child is sick?)
- What stage of life is best for this sort of job?
- Is there clarity on career path in this company? What does forward progress look like?
- Is there any continuing education required for this position, and if so, does the company cover the costs, or am I expected to?
- If there’s a “team interview” portion of the process, what do the other teammates tell you about working for this company?
- Is this a contract position or a W2 position? Which is best for my life and family right now?
- If this position is not an administrative job in and of itself, will I have administrative support?
- When it comes to vacation time, what is the company policy for this position?
- Are benefits included? If so, what do they entail? If not, are there monthly stipends I might be granted to help with healthcare or other needs?
- After gathering all the info above and bringing it before the Lord, in what direction do I sense Him guiding me?
- After gathering all the info above and bringing it before my spouse, what is my spouse saying?
- After gathering all the info above and bringing it before those who know and love me, what is my trusted counsel saying?
At first glance, this list of questions may look daunting. But take the pressure off yourself by remembering that the true goal of these questions isn’t for every answer to be ideal. Rather, the aim of these questions is to get a sense of the trend of the answers. Remember, you’re just counting costs and benefits—and there’s no such thing as an arrangement that offers all perks and no costs.
There may be some answers on this list that don’t shake out perfectly. This doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t supposed to take a job. It simply means that for all its strengths, you’ve made yourself aware of the weaknesses that come with this work arrangement. On the other hand, wisdom suggests that if most of the answers turn out to be disappointing or frustrating, then the job may not be the best fit for you. While this discovery of “not a fit” may seem like a bummer, it can actually be interpreted as good news. How so? Because by squaring with the costs of the job early on, you are likely saving yourself years of wearisome experiences later.
Dear reader, whatever the work opportunity looks like in front of you, count the cost. The exercise itself always brings reward.