"WHAT WILL YOU DO NEXT?" As a college senior, that's a question I'm asked frequently. The truth is, I don't know yet.
Although a job can provide a sense of security, even when you're firmly established in a job you may feel a level of uncertainty about the future. This can either be daunting or liberating. Daunting because it seems as though you have to keep evaluating your skills, interests, and connections—to constantly update resumes, keep social networks alive, and put yourself "out there" in order to stay relevant in the current job market. On the other hand, the uncertainty can be liberating because the journey is wide open, with unforeseen twists and turns.
I've been thinking about employment and next steps a lot. My friends and I have had countless conversations about the future—what steps we should be taking, and how to know which direction we should go. Half of the time it seems that there are unlimited possibilities, and the other half it seems as though those possibilities are out of reach.
The most helpful piece of advice I've received, which has repeatedly come up in conversation since then, is the fact that our real job is to live our purpose. A Christian Science practitioner once told me that everyone has a unique purpose, and there is a unique set of problems and circumstances for each one to solve. We are being graciously prepared by God to meet those challenges.
I realized that Joseph's willingness to listen to God was the ultimate networking tool and career-path builder.
As I was thinking about this idea, I was inspired to read the story of Joseph in the Bible. I grew up listening to the lyrics of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a musical based on Joseph and his coat of many colors. So I thought I knew the story fairly well. But as I read the story in the Bible again, a verse stood out to me as it never had before, "And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Gen. 39:3). I realized that Joseph's willingness to listen to God was the ultimate networking tool and careerpath builder. He repeatedly found himself in awful situations. However, he maintained his devotion to God and was given responsibility everywhere he went. I couldn't believe I had never noticed this aspect of the story!
Joseph didn't have an easy time. He was hated by his brothers, abandoned in a pit and sold into slavery in Egypt, accused of attempted rape, and consequently thrown into jail. Through all this, Joseph didn't lose heart or faith. He didn't become indignant, scared, or depleted by his circumstances. As we examine our own circumstances today—among them an economic recession and a tight job market—Joseph's story offers comfort. After each hardship someone recognized Joseph's goodness and promoted him to a position of responsibility. He was repeatedly given a job. He was made overseer in Potiphar's house, he was put in charge of the prisoners by the prison keeper, and then (the ultimate promotion) Pharaoh placed Joseph over his entire house and set him in charge of organizing the preparations for the prophesied seven years of famine.
Pharaoh chose Joseph because he knew his character and recognized that the spirit of God was in him. The Bible says, "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou" (Gen. 41:39, 40).
One lesson I've drawn from the study of the story of Joseph is that when we put God first, opportunities appear. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path" (p. 254). Joseph saw in a dream that he was made for great things. The fact is, we are all children of God, and like Joseph, we each have a unique purpose.
You may be thinking, "This sounds reassuring, but where's the hard evidence that it's true?" Many times I've seen things fall into place when I've been open to God's timing of events. A small example happened this past spring break. I didn't have a job, a place to stay, or anything else lined up. The break was fast approaching, and I started to feel panicked. I decided to take a moment to pray and review the spiritual ideas I had been working with in my larger career search, and to apply them. That afternoon, I was perfectly positioned to overhear someone who was looking for a dog-and housesitter. I spoke to the owner, and everything happened quickly. My spring-break dates lined up perfectly with the dog owner's plans for a trip, and I got the job.
As I continue to pray about employment after graduation and explore different opportunities, I've been affirming that God is my employer and source of supply. I know that I can rest assured of God's promise to care for me and oversee every aspect of my life. And like Joseph, I won't lose heart when things don't always work out as I've planned.
Joseph couldn't have predicted that he would be Pharaoh's right-hand man. He probably didn't have a ten-year plan, or an intended career path either. But he had the humility to let God reveal to him his real purpose. If we're listening and praying to God with the same humility, our own purpose will become clear. We'll have the job that needs us, as well as the job we need.
Alyson Wright graduated from Principia College this year with a degree in political science. She's from Henniker, New Hampshire.
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