When Career Suicide Serves God

When Career Suicide Serves God by Dr. Scott Yorkovich

Photo by Adam Gaston. Available at Flickr.com.

What does it mean to be missional? What does it look like to have a seamless integration of your work and spirituality? Many of our LeadStrategic readers are serious about their faith. Most of us, though, aren’t so serious about consistently living that faith at work. Earlier this week, I had an email exchange with someone who exemplifies missional living in the office. I’d like to share part of that dialogue with you.

I do have permission from “Jack” to share this with you, but I have changed some of the information to mask his identity as well as the company’s. You should know that Jack is the president of a company that manufactures a consumable product. These products are in homes and businesses worldwide. It is a company whose name all my readers would recognize. Recently, Jack got the news that the parent company will be closing down his operation. I’ve known Jack for several years and he’s been through some rough times in his career. This might be the most challenging of all, so I was anxious to hear how this man of faith was dealing with the situation.

Here is what Jack said:

Our consumables business is extremely profitable: over 80% profit margins and millions in earnings. I’m responsible for 100% of the consumables business globally. However, the widgets that require our consumable are sold at a significant loss. They are also poorly designed and take too long to get to market, among other problems. That said, the parent company has decided to divest itself of the entire consumables business. We’ll continue to produce the consumables for a few more years, perhaps earlier or later based on global demand. Closing a plant is hard. Managing a successful ramp-down is harder.

I was given a choice to move to the global headquarters in the US, to Europe, or to stay here. I’ve decided to stay here as long as possible. Our performance metrics in the last year are at an all-time high. People like me. And I don’t want to turn the campus over to someone else. The employees don’t really need me, but they need the Jesus in me.

I do try to live as servant leader, an authentic leader, a sermon-on-the-mount leader. I’m certainly not perfect at it, but God is good and sometimes a bit of Jesus flows out. It’s amazing what that can do transformationally for the organization.

I have a sense of peace and purpose. I don’t think God is through with my ministry here, so, as always, I yield to him!

Jack’s entire business is being closed down. Wouldn’t the savvy, strategic leader take the new assignment at the headquarters, or spend a few years exploring Europe, working for a part of the company that actually has a future? Why did Jack choose to stick with the operation he knows will be eliminated in the near future? Career-wise, it’s a suicide mission!

Jack made the best choice, though, because he doesn’t see his career as his own tool for financial or personal gain. Jack’s career is God’s tool for changing people’s lives. He has thousands of employees whose future, earthly speaking, has a little less hope now. They know their jobs are dead end. They go to work today knowing they will bring home a paycheck to feed kids, pay bills, and perhaps save something to enjoy. But not in a soon-coming tomorrow. They have deep questions about what the future holds.

That’s where Jesus, living in and working through Jack, comes in. Jack has put his future aside to allow Jesus to change the future for Jack’s employees. Jesus, through Jack, can offer hope for the future in a way that no job or other person can. That’s the transformational power of Jesus.

What about you and your career? Are you letting God use it for his gain or do you strategize your career for your gain?

2 thoughts on “When Career Suicide Serves God

  1. I agree with what you say, but could you personally make the same choice that Jack made knowing your wife & kids depend on you bringing home a paycheck? Would you be at peace with the foreclosure of your home because you couldn’t pay the mortgage? I’m not sure that I can give a resounding yes to those questions.

    Like Jack, I do love the Lord; I DO want people to see Jesus through me. But I have to admit that a lack of employment & associated income would definitely make life feel dubious in the day-to-day. Of course, dependence upon Him is what it’s about and what I’m still learning that lifelong lesson!

    • That’s a challenging question Amy. Not having been in Jack’s position, I can’t say for sure what I would do. Jack says he is being obedient to the Lord. You are essentially asking would I say, “Yes Lord” if told to do something that would put my family at risk financially. I haven’t walked in Jack’s specific shoes, but several years ago, I followed a call from the Lord to go back to school to earn a MA and a doctorate. This facilitated a career change and in the process I left behind a fairly well-paying business and simultaneously generated many tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

      What’s the result? Today, I still have those monstrous student loans and I don’t make as much money as I used to (but who is compared to several years ago?). However, at the same time, my kingdom influence is many times larger than it was before. I am happier and closer to my wife and children. I am doing what God called me to do.

      I’m not sure I can ask for much more.

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