Sometimes job changes occur out of necessity; one job ends and we need to find a new one to pay the bills.
In other cases, we can find ourselves content with where we are when a new opportunity comes to our attention.
I've recently gone from a position at a seminary to one at a Christian liberal arts college. The theological statements of both organizations are similar, the constituency roughly the same. Each school has a different culture, but both cultures are good.
The job change was a promotion, which made me begin to ask some questions about why I was making the move.
Here are five questions I used to evaluate my recent job change.
1. How is this an opportunity a better use for my skills? Every position has a different set of opportunities. Perhaps a position was perfect as an entry level job, but your skills have grown so that promotion or change may be warranted.
This is a valid reason to move from one position to another, but it's important to ask whether the new position really offers a better opportunity or if it is simply different.
2. Are there unique ways I can impact the kingdom due to the new position? This question may be tied to the job itself or the circumstances around the job.
If it is tied to the job, then the job description often provides the key to making the determination. It may be that increased responsibility or varying challenges allow you to engage vocational skills in the workplace more effectively.
On the other hand, sometimes the benefits lie outside the workplace. Perhaps the ability to telecommute will improve your family dynamic or allow you to have more ministry opportunities within the community. Or it may be that you have an opportunity to do roughly the same job in a different location while participating in a church plant. These can be valid reasons for changing jobs.
3. Will I fit into the culture of the new organization? In addition to finding new opportunities to use your skills, it is important to ask whether the vocational community you are joining will be a good fit.
This can certainly change over time, but if the organization is excessively competitive or too laid-back, these things can lead to conflict that prevent you from using your talents well.
It isn't just the job description; the people you'll be working with matter too.
4. What relationships will I lose when I move? Any time you move from one position to another you will gain some relationships and lose others. E-mail and social media are helpful for keeping in touch, but many working relationships dissolve once you leave the building for good.
Before you change horses, consider which relationships you may lose and the impact of losing them. It may be that your growth in your skills has depended on the mentorship of a peer or supervisor.
Have you been successful because of the people around you, or are you really ready to move on? If your effectiveness is largely because of the team you are on, it may not be time to leave yet.
5. Does this change benefit me more than it profits the kingdom of God? Every major decision deserves a gut check. Is this really about your kingdom service, or is it more about your bank account or title?
We may well benefit from taking promotions or making a lateral move. Asking this question helps prevent making a decision that is only good for you.
Paul reminds us of the attitude we should have in all of life including our career decisions:
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4, ESV).
Our hearts are nearly always bent toward what benefits us most. This question is vital if we are to make decisions for God's glory instead of our own.
There are certainly other questions worth asking. These five questions are a helpful beginning point when considering changing positions in the same field, between organizations that have morally acceptable purposes.
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