Are You Character-Driven or Career-Driven?

I entered college to a receive a degree. I wanted the degree so I could fast-track my way into a luxurious career, where I would find myself swimming in the money of my success (think Duck Tales). In my mind, college was nothing more than a needed stepping-stone for my long awaited dream of immense career success.

Within 2 months after getting my degree and making my way toward this career of overwhelming riches, I quit my job. I couldn’t handle it. The job wasn’t a good fit. All of my co-workers spent over 55 hours a week in the office, every week, just to avoid going home. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my marriage or my future family for a career.

It was more than quitting my job though, because in reality, I quit my career-driven desires.

One moment stands out in my decision to live character-driven, instead of career-driven. I walked my boss down to the conference room and spent 45 minutes telling him that all the money I thought I wanted felt empty. He and I then walked up to the President’s office. The President of the company was known to be a cutthroat, cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. I told him I was done. He shook his head, pointed at the door, and told me to leave. “We wasted two months of our time on you,” he said. I thought, “you’re wasting your life trying to build a career.”

Living with a career-driven mindset is great until the career crumbles around you. A career provides for your family and gives you a sense of purpose, but it’s not a stable foundation for your future.

In the process of starting and ending my tenured career of a few flips on an monthly calendar, I did, however, learn a valuable lesson I want to share with you:

You cannot build character through a career, but you can find a career by having character. (tweet this?)

In my short time sales job I was taught that my actions would change as my lifestyle changed. “Just wait ’till you taste the lifestyle,” all my co-workers would say. Somehow the lie of a career building character had festered in their minds.

I think this is why so many high-profile pastors, athletes, and executives end up tarnishing their legacy—they take short-cuts to build a career, instead of building character.

Consider even the way we encourage today’s children to set goals. “Get an A in European History.” “Make the varsity baseball team.” I’ve yet to meet anyone who sets a goal such as, “I want to become a more patient person.” Or, “I want to develop the habit of spending one hour with my children everyday.”

God is far less concerned about the size of your paycheck or the amount of people you oversee than he is concerned about how much you are willing to let Him live through you.

No one will pat you on the back for developing your character because there’s little tangible evidence you’re making any significant impact or change. But don’t let the lack of “results” fool you, it is the character-driven people who end up leading truly successful careers. The goal isn’t a sale or a move up the company ladder, the goal is to honor and glorify Christ in your living.

For some this shift from career-driven to character-driven will involve a monumental shift, for others it will be more subtle, but don’t wait.

Each moment presents an opportunity to make the shift.

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