Summary: Our career and our families are two potential idols in our lives. But faith helps keep them in proper perspective and enables you to find a balance.
Last week we started our series on Canadian Idols. We explained that idols are anything in our lives that take the place of God. God alone deserves and belongs in the place of priority in our lives, and when anything or anyone pushes Him aside, that becomes an idol for us. Historically, people have worshipped images carved out of stone or wood or formed out of precious metals. In our society, idols take the form of careers, recognition, achievement, money, relationships, power, comfort, self.
We went on last week to talk about how idols do not satisfy us and cannot meet our deepest needs. Only God our Creator can do that, and therefore we put Him first. He meets our needs, He gives meaning to our lives, He comforts and consoles us, He challenges and stretches us, He loves us beyond all measure, and He completely satisfies.
Today we’re going to talk about two specific things which can become idols in our lives: career and family. Neither one is evil in and of itself… in fact, they’re both good things. God wants us to enjoy strong and healthy family relationships. It’s part of His design for us. It’s a blessing He has given us. And he’s all for us succeeding in our careers. He wants us to be devoted to doing a good job and advancing in our work.
Both of these are good and important parts of our lives. But neither one should consume us and be our reason for living. If we start to think that focusing on our family is the be all and end all of life, and we direct all that we are into our family, we’re going to be left disappointed, disillusioned, and we will not enjoy the full and exciting life that God promises us in His Word.
On the other hand, if all our energies are focused into our work and career advancement becomes our god, then when all is said and done… whether we’ve had success or not… we’ll be left empty, small-minded, one dimensional shells of who God intended us to be. Only when these very good things are kept in balance with our faith, and God is kept in the place of priority in our lives, can we experience life the way we were meant to experience it.
So what we’re going to do this morning is this: we’re going to talk about each of these potential idols individually, and then we’ll bring them together and see how they fit with our faith. Okay? Let’s go.
First of all, let’s talk about our careers.
The Idol of Career
The people who make an idol out of their career are driven by how people view them, or even how they view themselves. Their identity becomes tied to what they do for a living. “Who they are” becomes replaced by “What they are”. What titles do they have, how successful have they been in their area of business, what are their qualifications and credentials, how much profit did they make last year… If their business is a success, then they are a success. If their business is a failure, then they are a failure.
And I’ve got to be honest with you. This is a big one for me. My identity can be very much tied to who I am as a pastor. I’ve spent the past few days at Beulah Camp in New Brunswick. It’s our annual family camp for the Atlantic District of the Wesleyan Church, and I’ll be heading back there again for the rest of this week. But over the past few days a lot of people have come up to me and asked, “How are you doing.” And my immediate response is to start telling them how the church is doing. I’ll tell them that we have a solid group of good quality people involved in the church and we have a hunger for growth and we’re making a difference in the community and we’re strategizing to make an even bigger difference… And then I’ll realize that I’m not telling them how I’m doing… I’m telling them how the church is doing. But when I start to think about how I’m doing, I find it very difficult to separate that from how Sunrise is doing. So it can be very easy for my career to become my idol.
I’m going to say something that may sound sexist, but I don’t think it is. I believe men struggle with this more than women do. I’m not exactly sure why, it’s just the way we’re wired. By nature we tend to focus more on what we do than what we are. And we allow our career to become an idol.
John Dos Passos said,
“People don’t choose their careers; they are engulfed by them.”