November 1, 1998
 Breaking the Inertia
When It's Time for a
Bold Step of Faith
Archive | Subscribe to Nehemiah Notes | Blaine Smith's Books | Support NM | Home

On a retreat that I led I met two men who impressed me greatly. Each had taken a courageous step in finding his career niche. And each had increased the benefits in his professional life by, well, reducing them.

Alfred founded a printing business in his late teens, and it prospered. By age thirty-two he was financially secure and en route to becoming wealthy. Yet he felt that his most significant gifts were not being invested for Christ.

He carefully examined the options and concluded that his strongest talents and aspirations lay in health care. Yet he did not have the stamina for a vocation in general medicine or surgery. Nursing proved to be the viable alternative. Now, at age thirty-six, he had just graduated from nursing college and had begun serving in his first hospital position.

I was profoundly impressed with Alfred's enthusiasm for his work and the heartfelt dedication to his patients which he displayed. But what I admired most was his willingness to leave a high-paying profession and take four years off from life to prepare to take a new job at half his former salary. I must say I was impressed, too, with his willingness to enter a career which hasn't traditionally been considered a male one. He had taken bold steps to realize his potential for Christ.

The other man was Ray, a retiree who had spent most of his life working for the same large corporation. Yet at age forty he decided to leave a high salaried, glamorous job for a less prestigious and far lower-paying position in the same company. He made the move for a simple reason: the new job better fit the skills and creative interests which he felt that God had given him. It was now nearly thirty years later, and he had no regrets, but was certain the move was one of the most important of his life.

The Courage to Be Who We Are

These men stand out in my mind as inspiring exceptions to a pattern which plagues Americans today. Far too frequently our vocational choices are not really choices at all. We fall into vocations--more often from social convention than from an honest appraisal of our gifts and areas of motivation. And typically inertia or the desire for "upward mobility" keeps us locked into them.

When we look at the lives of great men and women of faith in Scripture, we see an almost consistent pattern of movement. Most of them came into the important adventures which God had for them only after they took certain bold strokes to break the inertia in their lives. For some the moves were geographical. Abraham left his homeland of Haran; Joseph, after being deported to Egypt, stayed there and did not attempt to return to Canaan; Naomi, when bereft of her husband and sons, left Moab for Bethlehem.

In other cases the moves were occupational. Moses, Saul, David, and others left the shepherding profession for positions of political and spiritual leadership. Some of Jesus' disciples left fishing vocations; at least one left a lucrative career in tax collecting; Joanna left a prestigious position in Herod's palace.

If these examples have anything to suggest to us today, they say that living the life of faith will at times some decisive moves to break out of stagnant patterns which have socked us in.

Types of Inertia That We Face

The most insidious inertia factor we have to contend with today is the lure of a fat paycheck. The problem is termed "golden handcuffs" in modern corporate life. This term refers to the squelching effect that promotions and salary raises can have on our personal potential. A man or woman is pulled out of a position for which they are qualified and motivated, and "upgraded" to a higher-paying, more prestigious position which doesn't tap their talents or interests nearly as well. With the benefit of a larger salary, though, they grow accustomed to a more extravagant lifestyle, and it becomes difficult to think of moving backward. They remain stuck in a job with good perks but minimal creative satisfaction.

I'm certainly not suggesting that we should have no concern with the financial rewards of our work. Scripture commands us to be involved in employment which provides our basic economic needs (2 Thess 3:6-10). Yet if we allow financial motives to be primary in choosing a profession, we're likely to doom ourselves to a life of wealthy mediocrity. The abundant life which Christ offers can never be fully realized until we're willing to adjust our lifestyle for the sake of better utilizing the gifts he's given us.

Geographical inertia is also a factor that hinders us today, in spite of the ease of transportation available to us. Nancy, a woman who came to me for vocational counseling, is a typical example. As a recent college graduate with a drama major, she was eager to find an opportunity to employ her acting skills in a Christian context. She asked if I knew of any professional drama ministries to which she might apply.

At the time, the only one I knew about was in Berkeley, California. I suggested that she fly there and audition. She quickly protested that she knew that God didn't want her going to Berkeley. It would be too far from family and friends. Finally she admitted that even if God clearly commanded her to move there, she wouldn't go. She was open to his will--as long as it was within a half-hour radius of Washington, D.C.!

Many of us will find the best opportunities for employing our gifts only when we're willing to forge beyond our geographical comfort zone. I might add that doing so may also be a necessary step toward finding a life mate. If making such a move sounds like forcing the hand of God, I can only say that I think God expects us to take the same level of responsibility in seeking marriage as we do in looking for the best career opportunities. Ruth is a biblical example of someone who took such initiative.

Taking Inventory of Our Life

Of course, we can be too quick to change situations, or to jump from opportunity to opportunity. There are times when God wants us to settle in for the long haul to one geographical area, career or job. His purpose differs for us at different times. The critical matter is that we be open to his will, and to his best for us, and be certain that we're not holding back from making a change simply because of fear.

The good news is that we usually find his best by understanding the unique way he has made us individually. From time to time we should take inventory of our life. If we find that a situation is working strongly against our making use of the gifts and interests God has put within us, it may be time to take a bold step of faith to change this situation.

The bottom line is that living the life of faith requires some movement. You and I need to be willing to break the inertia patterns that rob us of Christ's abundant life. The life of faith is meant to be a moving experience.

  *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    * 
Back to top of this article.

This article is adapted from chapter twenty-one of Blaine's The Optimism Factor: Outrageous Faith Against the Odds (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994).

Nehemiah Notes is now available twice-monthly by e-mail!

Do you have comments about Nehemiah Notes, or would you like to receive it monthly by ground mail? E-mail us or use the comments box on our guestbook page. If you wish to receive Nehemiah Notes by mail, be sure to provide us an address, and note that you want us to send it to you.

Copyright 1998 M. Blaine Smith.
Please see our
copyright page for permission to reprint.

Back to Top | Nehemiah Notes Archive | About Nehemiah Notes | Home
Books by Blaine Smith | About Nehemiah Ministries and Blaine Smith
Copyright 1998 Nehemiah Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 448, Damascus, MD 20872
E-mail Blaine Smith or Nehemiah Ministries
louis vuitton outlet sport blue 6s kate spade outlet Sport blue 14s Louis Vuitton Outlet louis vuitton outlet michael kors outlet louis vuitton outlet sport blue 3s louis vuitton outlet Cheap louis vuitton michael kors outlet Louis Vuitton Outlet louis vuitton outlet kate spade outlet retro jordans for sale sport blue 6s michael kors outlet sport blue 6s coach factory outlet