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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Career Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Career Regrets

Robert Jeffress - Say Goodbye To Career Regrets
TOPICS: Say Goodbye To Regret, Career, Regrets

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Every day, millions of Americans wake up, get in their cars, and commute to their nine-to-five job, then after a long day's work, members of the workforce return home feeling tired, and in many cases, empty. Is it possible to turn the daily grind into a source of purpose and satisfaction? My message is titled, "Say Goodbye to Career Regrets," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Most people hate their jobs. Maybe hate's a little too strong of a word. Most people are dissatisfied with their jobs. And that's not my opinion, it's a fact. One major university did a survey of 250,000 workers in every field of work imaginable, and found that 80% of them said they were dissatisfied with their jobs. Which is tragic when you consider that most people spend 60% of their waking hours at their job. Which means that our jobs are fertile fields of regret. And today, as we continue our series, "Say goodbye to regrets," we're going to talk about how to say goodbye to regrets about our jobs, our careers. Now, you have to ask the question, and it's a legitimate question, does God even care about this topic? Does God care about what we do? Does God care about how we feel about our jobs?

You know, it's interesting, some people, Christians, have such a warped idea of work, an unbiblical idea. Some Christians view work as a curse from God. They say, "Boy, if Adam hadn't sinned in the garden, we could just be, you know, relaxing and eating bonbons forever, you know? But old Adam fell, and so we got to work as a curse". That's not biblical. God's plan for work began before the fall. God put Adam and Eve in the garden to keep it and to what? To work, to cultivate it. Some people are wrong to view work as a curse. Other people say, "Well, okay, my job has value to the extent it gives me the opportunity to share the gospel. If it gives me a platform, if only once every month, I have a chance to share with a coworker, that makes my work valuable. But what about all the other time? Those opportunities are few and far between".

No, I believe the Bible says our work, our vocation, whatever it is, is a calling from God. It's not just pastors, evangelists, and missionaries who are called by God, we all have a call from God, and we're going to talk about that today. But before we talk about how to minimize regrets about work, let's talk about some reasons people are dissatisfied with their job. What is it that causes regrets? First of all, the wrong choice of a career. The wrong choice of a career. In another survey, 693 workers were polled, and over half of them said they had chosen the wrong job. Now, there are a lot of reasons people end up choosing the wrong job or think they have. A major reason is they have felt pressured into a job by somebody they respect. A well-meaning parent, teacher, counselor, pastor, might say to us at some point, "You know, I can really see you doing such and such," and people wanting to please their authority figure end up going into a line of work they're really not called to do.

You know, I wanna be real clear about this. As parents, we do have a responsibility to help our children discover their gifts and the best use of that gift. In Proverbs 22:6, remember Solomon's words. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it". Most people misinterpret that verse. That phrase, "In the way he should go," is not talking about his moral or spiritual direction, if you teach children the right thing, they'll do the right thing, that's not what that verse is talking about. That Hebrew phrase, "In the way he should go," literally means train up a child according to his individual bent, his interest, his giftedness, because ultimately, that's the way he will end up going. Practically speaking, if you have a child who's interested in dance, let her give up her piano lessons if she hates the piano and pursue ballet.

If you've got somebody, a child who is mesmerized by a computer, sits in front of a computer for hours at a time, don't tell him he has to go be on a football team if he has no interest in that. Help him maximize his technological pursuits. That's what the Bible is saying. As parents, we ought to train our children according to their giftedness, but we shouldn't pressure them into a job. You know, one of the things I appreciate about my parents is they did not pressure me to become a pastor. For the first 15 years of my life, almost out of the womb, I knew what I was going to do or thought I was going to do. I was going in a particular direction, and when I got where I could read, I would read every journal, every book on the topic I could read about, but when I was 15, God had a different plan for me he told me. He called me to be a pastor, completely different from anything I had planned to do.

And I remember telling my dad first, and telling my mom, not knowing how they would respond at all to that, and they both independently said the same thing when I told them. They said, "Robert, we knew from the day you were born this was God's plan for your life, but we never said anything to you about it because we wanted to make sure it was the Holy Spirit calling you and not us". So, there's a balance there, parents, but a lot of people choose the wrong careers because they have been pressured into it, and that can cause regrets about their job. A second cause of regrets is the lack of perceived success. If somebody isn't experiencing much success in their career, they start to regret it. And sometimes that lack of success is because of the wrong definition of success, but it can also be because of a lack of diligence in the job that they're doing, and we'll talk about that more in just a moment.

A third reason for regrets about work is excessive time spent at work. Now, I'm gonna say this several times in the next 25 minutes so nobody misunderstands it. It's possible to spend too much time at your job, but it's also possible to spend too little time at your job. Fourth, some people regret their jobs and their careers because of a failure to take a risk. They never went that next step. They never took that exam that would qualify them for a higher position in their job, or they never made that cold sales call on a prospective customer, or they never took an opportunity to start their own business. They thought, you know, I could fail, and therefore I would regret it so I won't try at all.

There are some ways to minimize the regrets about our work, which is such an important part of our life, and let me share a few of those ways straight from God's word. First of all, and star this three times on your outline, discover your life work. The greatest important thing you can do about your job is to make sure you've discovered what your life work is. I first got acquainted with this term "Life Work" from my friend, Bob Beal, who is such a help to our church, and Bob says and defines life work as that work which is the best use of the rest of your life. Bob goes on to point out when people first start working in their 20's they're worried about one thing, and that is survival. They're just trying to survive when they start out, but when they get into their 30's they move beyond survival to success. They want to be successful, and so they try to start climbing the ladder to success.

But somewhere in their mid 40's to early 50's, people move beyond survival or even success, to significance. They want to do something that matters, that makes a difference, that provides them with satisfaction, and that's what our life work is all about. How do you discover your life work? Let me share with you four principles to discovering your life work. First of all, your life work, whatever it is, should utilize both your gifts and your interests. It ought to be utilizing your gifts and your interests. Listen to me, God will never call you to do something for which he's not given you a passion, first of all to do, and second of all, he hasn't given you the gifts to do it. God will never do that.

You say, where do you find that in the Bible? Philippians 2:13, this is a good verse to memorize. Paul said, "For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose". How do you find God's purpose? First of all, it's what he's given you the will to do. You could use the word "Passion" there. For it is God who is at work within you giving you the passion, but he also will not just give you the passion, he'll give you the power and the gifts to achieve God's purpose for you. And so, your life work should be the intersection of where your passion and your giftedness cross. You know, I remember when I was a little boy, my grandfather, who had such an influence on my life, decided that I needed to be a doctor. And he told me that he would send me to the finest medical school in the country if I would become a doctor.

Now, there are just two problems with that. First of all, when I was very young, I had a science bypass operation. I had no interest in biology or science whatsoever. When everybody in high school biology would be looking into the microscope trying to see something, I would be dazing out the window. I didn't care what was under the microscope. And not only that, I didn't have the gifts needed to be a successful doctor. I mean, can you imagine me with my hyperkinetic personality trying to be still enough to perform a delicate operation? I'd be in a malpractice suit before I could blink. I mean, I'm not gifted to be a doctor. What is my single greatest strength? Maybe it's organization, maybe it's leadership, maybe it's communication, but the intersection of your passion and your giftedness is your life calling, your life work.

Secondly, your life work ought to be something you enjoy doing. It ought to be something you love doing, but let's be honest, everybody has parts of their job they don't like. I mean, for a teacher it might be faculty meetings. For the doctor, it might be dealing with insurance companies. For a pastor, it might be going to the hospital, that's understandable, but none of those functions is the major component of those professions. But if you have a teacher who says, you know, I just love teaching, it's the students I can't stand. You know, or you have a pastor who says, oh, I just love being a pastor, but I hate preaching. You know, or you have a doctor who faints at the sight of blood. They probably need to reconsider their life work. Your life work ought to be something you love doing.

Thirdly, your life work ought to be something that provides you with an adequate income to take care of yourself and your family. It ought to provide something that gives you an adequate income. That means you have to separate your life work from your hobbies. I mean, we all have things we're interested in, but just because you're interested in it doesn't mean you can make a living at it. You all know I grew up playing the accordion, that was a hobby of mine, and in high school and college, I earned all my spending money by playing for bar mitzvahs, and polka festivals, and weddings, and funerals, but I would hate today to try to make a living out of playing the accordion. The interest in polka music isn't what it used to be. So, I can do that as a hobby, but that's not gonna be my life career. Some of you are saying amen to that. It ought to be something you can make a living at.

You say, "Well, where do you find that in the Bible?" Again, listen to 1 Timothy 5:8. "If anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever". God has given us the responsibility to provide financially for ourselves and those who depend upon us, that's his will. How does God provide that income? It's through the jobs he calls us to do. Our job, our work, is the means by which God provides our needs. And number four, your life work should be confirmed by other people. If you're really in your life work, you're gonna have some positive affirmation from people. People are gonna say things like, "Man, you were born to do that," or, "You make that look so easy," or, "You look like you really are enjoying what you're doing". You'll have that confirmation from others.

So, how do you prevent regrets? First of all, discover your life work so you're in the right field. Secondly, refuse to be stuck in your profession. By that I mean if God does call you to change careers, vocation, if your life work changes, don't feel like you're stuck where you are, you're not. A lot of times people feel stuck because they feel like, well, if I change careers, it means everything I've done in the past has been wasted, or it means I didn't hear God's voice correctly that led me in this field to begin with. And I would just say a couple of things to help you get past the trauma of trying to change your career or life work.

Secondly, first of all, remember that your present job and all your past jobs have value. God doesn't waste experiences upon anybody. All of our work has value. Your work, unless it's immoral or illegal, has values to God, value to God. You know, the only people who are called are not evangelists and missionaries, everyone is called by God. And so, don't feel like that your past jobs have not had value. Secondly, view your job as a stepping stone, not as a plateau. To be open to God's moving you to something else. See your job as a stepping stone, not a plateau.

Now, have you been ever interviewed by an employer who said, "No, we don't want anybody who's gonna use this job as a stepping stone". Well, we understand what they mean. They don't want somebody who's always thinking about the next job instead of the current job they have, but the truth is, everything we do is a stepping stone to something else. Thirdly, if you're going to avoid regrets about your work, and this is so important, understand the importance of diligence in your job. The only thing worse than coming to the end of your life and realizing that you were in the wrong job is having regrets about missed opportunities with the job you had. To realize you really could have been more successful if you'd only been more diligent in your work.

When I think about that, I think about Gordon McDonald in his book, "Ordering your private world". He cites the example of the famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He's an example of somebody who failed to understand the importance of diligence. Look what he says about Coleridge. "Coleridge is the supreme tragedy of indiscipline. Never did so great a mind produce so little. Coleridge left Cambridge university to join the army. He left the army because he couldn't rub down a horse. He returned to Oxford and left without a degree. He began a newspaper called 'the watchman,' which lived for ten issues and then died. It's been said of Coleridge, 'he lost himself to visions of work to be done that always remained to be done'. Coleridge has every poetic gift but one, the gift of sustained and concentrated effort".

Kemmons Wilson, the founder of holiday inn, said let me tell you the secret of success. Work just half a day, every day. Just half a day, doesn't matter which half, it can be the first 12 hours or the last 12 hours, but work half a day. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said virtually the same thing. Listen to what he says about diligence. You can find a lot of verses in Proverbs about diligence, here are three. Proverbs 10:4, "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich". Or, Proverbs 12 verse 24, "The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor". Or, Proverbs 13:4, "The soul of the sluggard, the lazy person, craves and he gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat".

Now, you may say, well, I don't have any desire to be rich, powerful, or fat, so why do I care? Listen, what Solomon is saying is if you're not diligent in your work, you're going to fall into poverty, servitude, and discontent. What's the antidote to slothfulness, laziness in our job? It's that passage we read together just a few minutes ago, Colossians 3:23. It would be a great passage to memorize. Paul said, whatever you do, whatever you do, farmer, trucker, supermarket clerk, "Whatever you do, do your work diligently, enthusiastically, as unto the Lord. For it is the Lord God whom you serve". Finally, how do you remove regrets about your work? Don't overestimate the importance of your work. Don't overestimate the importance of your work.

Some people underestimate it, but don't overestimate it either. Your work is an important part of your life that God cares about very much, but it needs to be kept in balance with other areas of your life as well. Let me illustrate that for you. Years ago, my granddad, before he died, gave Amy and me a beautiful bronze Remington sculpture. You've seen those sculptures, they're very, very heavy, and he gave us a pedestal to put it on. So, in our home we had that sculpture on the pedestal. But as our girls began to get older, we realized they could accidentally shake that pedestal, and if that heavy bronze came crashing down, it could kill them or at least destroy the furniture.

So, we voluntarily took that sculpture off the pedestal and put it at a lower level, where if it fell it wouldn't do that much damage. We need to be careful that we don't elevate our careers above where they belong, because if they come crashing down, when they come crashing down, either through health, through termination, or just our retirement, it does a lot less damage if we haven't over-elevated our work. So, make sure you have it in balance with every other area of your life. In closing today, let me suggest three important questions I hope you're able to answer. Number one, have you discovered your life work? Second question, at the end of most days, not every day, but most days, are you able to come to the end of the day and said I gave my job my very best efforts today? And number three, is your work really in balance with every other area of your life? Not spending too much, not spending too little time, but keeping it in balance. Your ability to answer yes to those questions will determine your ability to work without regret.
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