Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. ESV 1 Corinthians 7:21
How should Christians view the opportunities that come our way? Should we seek promotions, raises, and better jobs at work? How does our Spiritual formation impact our career path? Paul offers some practical advice to slaves that can also guide our career decisions.
While we generally don’t have slaves today, we have somewhat similar situations. Most of the slaves Paul addressed were common laborers, similar to many working minimum wage jobs. In Paul’s day, slaves often had the opportunity to buy their freedom, similar to how in our culture, those working minimum wage jobs can always apply for better jobs, get education or training, or seek promotion. Similar to the slaves of Paul’s day, this can be a challenging process (as anyone knows who is simultaneously supporting a family, working two jobs, and trying to go to school for a better job). Paul teaches that if we have the opportunity to gain our freedom (which would include jobs with more flexibility, better compensation, better fits for our gifts), then we should do so. However, if these opportunities fail to present themselves, we needn’t worry. God can provide for us in a low-wage, low-freedom environment.
God created us in His image, and called us to rule the earth. As believers, we have a mandate to take the gospel to everyone. Since we are called to work, we should generally seek as many opportunities to expand our influence as possible. This means seeking greater compensation (that allows us to invest more in the kingdom). This means seeking greater responsibility (that gives us greater influence to share the gospel). This means seeking greater freedoms (better work schedules, shorter commutes, etc. to free more time and resources for kingdom living). While these should be our aim, and we can trust God to provide as we move in these directions, we should never assume God can only use us if we get promoted, make more money, or attain that next rung on the career ladder. Ultimately, God can use us greatly as we flip burgers while making minimum wage. Hence, while seeking greater opportunities we should be content at whatever job God calls us to, allowing Him to be glorified in that position. Work hard this week!