Finding a Job You Can Love.
Authors: Ralph T. Mattson and Arthur F. Miller, Jr.
Publisher: Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1982
View: Wisdom View
James Petty lists this book in his bibliography and recommends it as a very good book on applying the way of wisdom to vocation. Petty's book is critiqued in the appendix of Decision Making and the Will of God. The authors of Finding a Job You Can Love are practitioners not theologians, but they make a cogent and compelling case for their thesis.
Their thesis is that much job dissatisfaction is the result of workers whose gifting is a bad fit for their jobs. Furthermore, finding work that fits the way God created and recreated us is key for obeying God's will and finding job satisfaction.
Their use of the terms "God's will" and "God's calling" may be misunderstood by those who read traditional definitions into them. The authors do not directly refute the traditional view, but seem to assume the wisdom perspective. By God's will they usually mean God's moral will; by God's "calling" they mean the work that fits your gifting and the place where God sovereignly placed you. They do not mean an individual will that God reveals to each person. They argue that Paul with his "visions" is not our normal experience (21).
They contend that people often seek God's will to "identify a specific vocation," but "God's will has more to do with God's being and life, and less to do with making decisions" (25). Their argue against the concept of a "dictator God" and by doing so leave room for man's freedom in decision making (27). God's moral will is pleasure and beauty for the believer. They emphasize the love and passion for God which makes doing His will a joy (28 32). They urge us to discover "a capacity for God-centered passion" (36). All obedience is an expression of love for God. All lawful actions whether religious or ordinary "are potentially useful in demonstrating our love for God" (39). They destroy the division between sacred and secular arguing that all actions done for God are holy obedience whether preaching or painting the bathroom (38-42).
Furthermore, work itself is God's idea and our frustration comes only with the fall. "Creation as God's work is expressive of His being ... God's pleasure was Adam's pleasure, and both pleasures were attained through work" (46).
God has given man gifts to accomplish His work. "The exercise of those gifts makes possible civilizations and kingdoms, earthly or heavenly." (50)
God's work is both church and business, tabernacle and the office building, teaching Bible and teaching medicine.
Fitting the gifted person to the right task is essential. The "vocational disaster" is that "three or four out of every five people are in the wrong jobs (according to a study released by the Marketing & Research Corp. Of Princeton, N.J., in 1976)" (55). The believer "measures success not by how high or low he is in terms of position, but how well he does the work he is gifted to do" (56).
The book gives many specifics on God's gifting. They appear to be going beyond what we call strictly spiritual gifts such as those listed in 1 Corinthians 12. They include also our make-up, talents, aptitudes that we have from God as our creator. They list five parts of our design (60).
- A central motivational thrust, or outcome you are motivated to achieve.
- Certain motivated abilities you are motivated to use.
- Certain subject matter you are motivated to work with or through.
- Certain circumstances within which you are motivated to operate.
- A certain way you are motivated to relate to and operate with others.
They lay out questions that the reader should ask to identify their unique make-up. Their earlier book, The Truth about You, gives more details on the SIMA (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities) method (77). This "motivating pattern" is significant because it is permanent, consistent and controls one's behavior (77). One's motivation is God-given, but can be used selfishly or compulsively. Instead, it should be used under the power and direction of the Spirit (chp. 7). When we misuse our gifting we are trying to play God rather than serve Him (chp. 8).
They teach a biblical view of sanctification in using our gifts. God changes us from the inside. "Scripture teaches that whatsoever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men ... Work or play, cleaning, washing, eating, living, digging, building, talking, teaching, directing, walking, driving, learning-- do all of it as unto the Lord, but a crucified Lord. All of it must be crucified, for there will be no resurrection, no life, no meaning to it all without the cross" (118).
The main emphasis of the book is that God has made us and gifted us. His unique creation of us is a major part of what we should be doing. We should be ordering our life according to our gifting (chp. 10). Their view of spiritual gifts is one that resonates with me. They expect that God will use the gifting He gave us at creation as part of our spiritual gift. The future teacher will be endowed with the ability to think before becoming a believer. But a spiritual gift always adds a spiritual dynamic that enables one to spiritually build up the Body of Christ. He gives examples of biblical characters who had their natural endowment used as part of the spiritual endowment for service: Solomon, Moses, Daniel, Joseph (155). "We have never seen nor can we understand God's giving a supernatural gift of the Spirit that is not at least in harmony with, if not an extension of, a person's natural gifts" (158).
In the later third of the book, the authors use terminology which may reflect a traditional understanding of God's individual will (132, 133, 136, 140, 142 "finding God's will"). The emphasis, however, is so strongly wisdom and gifting that the result is not the one which traditional view would make. Their final emphasis is the role of the Body of Christ in our decision making. "You do not announce your gift to the fellowship and create a place for yourself. As opportunities arise, you demonstrate your gift and allow the fellowship to confirm your gift and to supply increased opportunities for its use" (161).
Most of what I found in this book is in harmony with the way of wisdom taught in Decision Making. This book may help to elucidate one of the perceived weaknesses of our book. Critics often say that the way of wisdom does not recognize the differences of gifting which will result in different guidance from God. I suspect we did not emphasize gifting strongly enough (Decision Making, pp. 345-347) since this criticism has often been raised.
Our view is that role of spiritual gifts fits under the moral will of God. Believers are commanded to use their gifts for the common good (1 Cor. 12). Keeping this command will result in different decisions and different direction in life for those who are gifted differently. When I teach at Multnomah and when one gifted with mercy ministers at a care facility, we are both obeying the same command, but with very different expressions. This book helps to emphasize how God's guidance is very different for different people when they keep the same command -- the command to use their God-given gifts. I recommend this book as good supplement to Decision Making and a good balance where we have understated the role of God's gifting.