Commitment to Your Lifework

Week of Prayer for Monday

One of the first questions many of us ask, when meeting someone new, is, “What do you do?” The response often details the job where the person is working or a career path he or she is pursuing. As small talk, this is simply a time filler, yet the question begs a more comprehensive, in-depth answer. The larger answer includes what we do and who we are before God, ourselves, and others. These are listed in order of priority and importance. When they are shifted out of order, they tend to cause confusion and problems in the life. For a term to describe this, we will use the word lifework. This word quite readily brings to mind a great work, accomplishment, fame, or fortune that many may not ever experience in their lifetimes. However, let us look at what it is from God’s perspective and what we are called to as a lifework.

God’s Purpose

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine.” “[Even] every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:1, 7. These verses remind us that we are precious; we are called by God. He knows our names and uses them, and He has a purpose for each one of us for His glory.

God’s call on the life includes the entrusting of abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, gifts, and talents. “The specific place appointed us in life is determined by our capabilities. Not all reach the same development or do with equal efficiency the same work. God does not expect the hyssop to attain the proportions of the cedar, or the olive the height of the stately palm. But each should aim just as high as the union of human with divine power makes it possible for him to reach.” Education, 267.

God gives as He requires. He does not ask us to do something for which He has not fitted us or given us the opportunity to learn or to become. However, to follow Him requires the sacrifice of our wills, our plans, and our desires for His glory and, ultimately, for our good. “Many do not become what they might, because they do not put forth the power that is in them. They do not, as they might, lay hold on divine strength. Many are diverted from the line in which they might reach the truest success. Seeking greater honor or a more pleasing task, they attempt something for which they are not fitted. Many a man whose talents are adapted for some other calling, is ambitious to enter a profession; and he who might have been successful as a farmer, an artisan, or a nurse, fills inadequately the position of a minister, a lawyer, or a physician. There are others, again, who might have filled a responsible calling, but who, for want of energy, application, or perseverance, content themselves with an easier place.” Ibid.

Deciding on a lifework may be easy for some and more challenging for others. I have met many people who will quickly say, “I do not have any talents, not like someone else has.” The greatest obstacle in putting to use the special gifts God has given is not accepting them as the blessings they are and not using them as He has planned for our lives. Each and every one of us has received at least one gift, as shown in the parable of the talents. The one who had the least of all still had a talent that he was expected to use. (Matthew 25:14–29.)

The Bible says that each man is given a measure of faith and grace. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:7. These two gifts will help you on your way to accepting the fact that God has given you talents and has a plan for how you may use them. So recognize, be grateful, and give thanks to the Giver of the finest gifts. Above all, use them for His glory.

When choosing a career or direction for lifework, Ellen White gives four simple directions to follow: “We need to follow more closely God’s plan of life. To do our best in the work that lies nearest, to commit our ways to God, and to watch for the indications of His providence—these are rules that ensure safe guidance in the choice of an occupation.” Ibid. [Emphasis supplied.] As we follow, God, who has led His people in the past, will continue to lead His people today.

Remain Focused

The second part of our original answer pertains to what we do and who we are before ourselves. The qualifier here is that “in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 11 Corinthians 5:17. The old man wants to use the abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, gifts, and talents for his own use, honor, and glory. Truly this means the old man must die and the new man, under the authority and leadership of God, uses each of these things for God’s glory. When this occurs, the life is radically refocused, but the abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, gifts, and talents do not change.

Before his conversion, Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, was zealous for God’s glory in his preaching and teaching. He was very persuasive, as he was able to obtain letters to search out and destroy the sect called the Way. (See Acts 9.) After meeting Christ on the road to Damascus, he was still zealous for God’s glory, teaching and preaching—although the heresy he began to try to destroy was pulling down the strongholds so men and women could be free to follow the Christ that he knew. He refocused his abilities and God-given talents.

Paul was an example of being true to self both before and after his conversion by following his convictions. We must do the same before God and ourselves, to know and to follow our own personal convictions. If we do not, confusion will darken our paths and our ways will be difficult. Being true to one’s self in Christ helps us to remain focused and able to perform that to which He calls us.

Hired Servants

Today, we serve not as slaves but as hired servants. We study and learn in a variety of settings—at home, school, college, and university—and then enter the world of work. As hired servants, we serve for financial remuneration and gain. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 11 Thessalonians 3:10. Paul encouraged people to be financially responsible for themselves and then to set aside extra to help those who could not do for themselves: “Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by [your] letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.” 1 Corinthians 16:2, 3. He also spoke to employees about how to serve: “Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22–24.

In Ministry

Another place we are to serve is in the area of ministry, using our special gifts. Sometimes God has a wonderful sense of humor, as He places us in connection with those who may give us of their gifts and bring out our unique gifts.

Several years ago, I was involved in a health class ministry with three women who had very different gifts and abilities. One had taught home economics, enjoyed quilting, and was a secretary. Another, also a secretary, was very skilled in organization. The third woman had worked with her husband as a fence builder but was retired and liked to quilt. I also had studied home economics but had finished my degree in nursing and was working as a surgical nurse. Each of us had a common desire to share information about the gift of health with others, yet, as you may imagine, we approached our mutual goal in a variety of ways.

My organized friend regularly requested that the recipes to be presented be tried and tested before each class. She also wanted the written recipes in plenty of time to have them typed and neatly arranged. This was a challenge for me, because I would get too busy and then forget what I had promised to have ready for her. The other two ladies always took care of things on time. Who needed to change? When I realized that my organized friend was only trying to make this experience easier on all of us by being prepared and having handouts and talks ready for our programs, I became a better part of the team. It worked like a charm! It required discipline to do it, but I was able to grow and then work on my organizational skills in other areas, because of her example and friendship.

We all enjoyed many years of friendship and growing in grace as we ministered together. Each of us remained true to our own purposes and passions, yet we had the opportunity to try out and practice new skills. Both my organized friend and fence builder friend learned to present information and give talks before the class attendees, instead of staying behind the scenes. My other friend encouraged us to upgrade our presentations with the purchase of a demonstration mirror, which the fence builder friend mounted to a cabinet on wheels. The two friends who quilted also encouraged me to try my hand at quilting. God certainly blessed our friendships and expanded our talents in ways I had not expected.


The third part of the question about what we do and who we are is addressed by our relationships to others. We enter this world as a son or a daughter, as a brother or a sister, grow, have friends, attend school, get a job, and perhaps marry. Each of our lives continually interacts with others. Some interactions may be positive and encouraging; others may be negative and discouraging, but when we keep in mind our call to God and stay true to self, we can seek help and healing when we need it.

Gifts and talents given by God are often recognized early in life and hopefully encouraged. If encouraged, the child and the gift will grow strong and courageous, exercising and stretching so the gift becomes a blessing to the child and to others. When discouragement is given, the gift may be hidden behind a curtain of pain, and it may take years, if ever, to resurface. Sadly, when the call of God or lifework is put on hold, the individual is not the only one who loses out on God’s blessing. Jesus was ever the encourager of children, saying, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14. The gifts He gives to His children, both young and old, He desires to see grow and flourish.

First Home

Our first home is the earliest place in which we have opportunity to grow in grace and advance our gifts. God thought of this when He gave us His Law. The first commandment with promise is the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12. In our first home, we learn responsibility and service under the teaching and watchful eyes of our parents.

“Honor, the foundation from which all other elements of Christian character arise, refers primarily to a condition of the heart and mind, an inner attitude that inevitably manifests itself in outer words, action and demeanor. Honor expresses the genuine and deep veneration within the child’s heart (or anyone’s heart) toward those to whom honor is due. It recognizes our indebtedness, our obligation, to those whom we honor. It expresses the value we place upon them, since if we value them, we will pay attention to them and spend time for them.” Blair Adams, Building Christian Character, Truth Forum, Austin, Texas, 1988, 13. Parents who train children to be upright are blessed and bless others.

Variety of Gifts

As we grow up and mature, we should recognize more ways to serve others as we see a wider variety of gifts. Many and varied are the gifts that He gives. We are to recognize each one and be thankful for it. These include the gifts of the Holy Spirit: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6–8. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:8–11. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11, 12.

In her book, Christ’s Object Lessons, 325–365, Ellen White lists these gifts and more, which include mental faculties, speech, influence, time, health, strength, money, kindly impulses, and affections. Have we not all been given some portion of each of these gifts? We are responsible before God as to how we use, share, increase, or abuse these talents that He has given.

“The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable [of the talents]. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow men.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 328.

Paul, writing to a young man named Timothy, said, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” [1 Timothy 4:14.] In other words, “I remind you to stir up—rekindle, as a fire—the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” In the home, a most wonderful opportunity is available to parents in the practice of praying for, laying hands on, and blessing the children. (See Genesis 49.)

Recognize the Giver

Service to our fellowman by using our abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, gifts, and talents is harmonized with a desire to share with others the recognition of the Giver of the gifts. “Love and loyalty to Christ are the spring of all true service. In the heart touched by His love, there is begotten a desire to work for Him. Let this desire be encouraged and rightly guided. Whether in the home, the neighborhood, or the school, the presence of the poor, the afflicted, the ignorant, or the unfortunate should be regarded, not as a misfortune, but as affording precious opportunity for service.

“In this work, as in every other, skill is gained in the work itself. It is by training in the common duties of life and in ministry to the needy and suffering, that efficiency is assured.” Education, 268.

“In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied; and, more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the field, from the vineyard, and from the workshop, and sent forth by the Master to give His message. Many of these have had little opportunity for education; but Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to fulfill His purpose. If they put their hearts into the work, and continue to be learners, He will fit them to labor for Him.” Ibid., 269, 270.

Full Circle

As men and women labor for the Master, they will seek souls for the kingdom of God. “By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 326.

This brings us full circle. The lifework for which we are responsible is to live for God, to be true to ourselves, and to live in service for others, pointing the way to salvation and heaven. Lifework is more than what we do; it is truly who we are and the legacy we leave behind for Christ. It includes our careers, abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, gifts, and talents, and how we use each of these in developing a Christlike character.

Listen for the voice that calls your name and bids, “Come up higher, and follow Me.” Follow on to the place of peace with Him, and you will find quietness in being true to yourself and the most exciting adventure in serving others and seeking to bring them to the kingdom.

Paula Currey is a surgical nurse, working in a Wichita, Kansas, hospital.

What About Discouragement?

It is not unusual for those who have chosen to follow the Lamb whithersoever He leadeth to experience discouragement from time to time. Often, when that occurs, the discouraged one can be tempted to question the sincerity of his commitment. He is prone to ask himself, “Am I failing in my Christian walk because I occasionally experience times of discouragement?” But didn’t some of our patriarchs go through times of discouragement?

Adam was undoubtedly a bit discouraged when he and Eve were banned from the Garden of Eden. More discouragement must have followed when Cain slew Abel.

Was Noah jubilant when the whole world rejected the message that God had told him to share? For 120 years, he delivered the message of warning to the world, to have only seven others accept it and join him on the ark.

How about Moses? The murmuring and complaining of the children of Israel during their wilderness journey surely discouraged him from time to time. There were certainly times when, although he was following specific directions from God, he was less than totally happy—the golden calf, the complaints about their diet, the blame heaped upon him because of the length of the journey, the lack of water!

Scripture tells us specifically that the Israelites themselves were discouraged. “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” Numbers 21:4.

Consider Job. When he lost all that he had––home, livestock, and children––and his own wife told him to curse God and die, how happy do you think he was? When even his three best friends tried to convince him that he was responsible for his afflictions, there were probably at least a few fleeting thoughts of discouragement from time to time.

Elijah fled in discouragement when Jezebel threatened his life, even though he had just seen fire come down from heaven as a testament to his faith in God.

Perhaps the most striking and memorable example of discouragement we have is that of the disciples after Christ’s crucifixion.

“After the death of Christ the disciples were well-nigh overcome by discouragement. Their Master had been rejected, condemned, and crucified. The priests and rulers had declared scornfully, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.’ Matthew 27:42. The sun of the disciples’ hope had set, and night settled down upon their hearts. Often they repeated the words, ‘We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.’ Luke 24:21.” The Acts of the Apostles, 25.

In each of these cases, however, let us not lose sight of the fact that faith eventually prevailed.

What if Elijah had given up in discouragement after praying six times? By faith he prayed the seventh, and rain came (I Kings 18:42–45).

Because of Job’s love for his persecutors and his unfailing faith in the resurrection, God restored to him two-fold his losses. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10.

The disciple Mark was so discouraged at one point that he gave up his evangelistic efforts and returned to Jerusalem. Mark had been a publican and was undoubtedly wealthy. His home was probably large and well-maintained, staffed with servants to do his bidding. For a brief time, he was overcome by culture-shock and abandoned the call to return to the comforts that he had known so well. We can read about that in The Acts of the Apostles, 169, 170:

“As faithful shepherds in search of the lost sheep, they [the disciples] gave no thought to their own ease and convenience. Forgetful of self, they faltered not when weary, hungry, and cold. They had in view but one object—the salvation of those who had wandered far from the fold.

“It was here that Mark, overwhelmed with fear and discouragement, wavered for a time in his purpose to give himself wholeheartedly to the Lord’s work. Unused to hardships, he was disheartened by the perils and privations of the way. He had labored with success under favorable circumstances; but now, amidst the opposition and perils that so often beset the pioneer worker, he failed to endure hardness as a good soldier of the cross. He had yet to learn to face danger and persecution and adversity with a brave heart. As the apostles advanced, and still greater difficulties were apprehended, Mark was intimidated and, losing all courage, refused to go farther and returned to Jerusalem.”

By faith he stepped into the field again and eventually wrote an inspiring account of Christ’s work. (See Ibid., 170.)

When the faithful in Corinth were experiencing discouragement, Paul wrote to them to remind them of the experiences of the children of Israel. Because of their sin and rebellion, the judgments of God had come upon them. The apostle instructed the Corinthian believers to heed the lesson contained in Israel’s experiences. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” I Corinthians 10:6.

Paul showed how love of ease and pleasure had prepared the way for sins that had brought the vengeance of God upon the Israelites.

Yet Paul would not have them yield to despondency or discouragement. He gave them the assurance: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13.

Well, how is it with us today? Do we sometimes allow ourselves to be led into discouragement and despair by failing to grasp the sure promises of God? It is only by faith that we can grasp those promises, and it is only by faith that we can meet the condition on which those promises are given: obedience. When we turn from the path of righteousness and for one reason or another disobey the counsels, precepts, and commandments in God’s word, He must then breach His promises. (See Numbers 14:34.) And it is then, overcome with discouragement and depression, that we are most susceptible to falling under Satan’s shadow.

In The Acts of the Apostles, 363, we read the following:

“Satan’s craft is most successfully used against those who are depressed. When discouragement threatens to overwhelm … spread out before God [your] necessities. It was when the heavens were as brass over Paul that he trusted most fully in God. More than most men, he knew the meaning of affliction; but listen to his triumphant cry as, beset by temptation and conflict, his feet press heavenward: ‘Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.’ II Corinthians 4:17, 18. Paul’s eyes were ever fastened on the unseen and eternal. Realizing that he was fighting against supernatural powers, he placed this dependence on God, and in this lay his strength. It is by seeing Him who is invisible that strength and vigor of soul are gained and the power of earth over mind and character is broken.”

“Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement––days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God. … Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God’s providences we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills, and new faith, new life, would spring into being. …

“For the disheartened there is a sure remedy––faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. … In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. … And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. …

“Did God forsake Elijah in his hour of trial? Oh, no! He loved His servant no less when Elijah felt himself forsaken of God and man than when, in answer to his prayer, fire flashed from heaven and illuminated the mountaintop.” Conflict and Courage, 213.

There is no spiritual strength for us in constantly brooding over our weaknesses and backslidings and bemoaning the power of Satan. The great truth of the worth of the offering made for us must be established as a living principle in our minds and hearts—that God can and does save to the uttermost all who come unto Him, complying with the conditions specified in His word.

I would like to suggest that that is the great failing of a great number of churches today. Little if any emphasis is placed on complying with the conditions specified in God’s word. We must confess our sins to Jesus as He pleads our cause in the Most Holy Place. That confession must be accompanied by repentance––turning from our sins and following the Lamb.

“Our work is to place our will on the side of God’s will. Then, through the blood of the atonement, we become partakers of the divine nature; through Christ we are children of God, and we have the assurance that God loves us even as He loved His Son. We are one with Jesus. We walk where Christ leads the way; He has power to dispel the dark shadows which Satan casts across our path; and, in place of darkness and discouragement, the sunlight of His glory shines into our hearts.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 741.

“Then let us not gather together all the unpleasant pictures—the iniquities and corruptions and disappointments, the evidences of Satan’s power—to hang in the halls of our memory, to talk over and mourn over until our souls are filled with discouragement. A discouraged soul is a body of darkness, not only failing himself to receive the light of God, but shutting it away from others. Satan loves to see the effect of the pictures of his triumphs, making human beings faithless and disheartened.” Ibid., 744, 745.

It is by beholding that we become changed (II Corinthians 3:18). By dwelling upon the love of God and our Saviour, by contemplating the perfection of the divine character and claiming the righteousness of Christ as ours by faith, we can be transformed into the same image and dispel the doubt and discouragement that Satan so ruthlessly longs to cast over us.

John Pearson is currently the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, he moved to Wichita to join the Steps to Life team and may be contacted by email at:

Keys to the Storehouse – Satan, Job and You

Our Lord allowed Satan the opportunity to test Job. Read again the first and second chapters of Job so that you may refresh your mind with what happened to Job, because each of us will be tested, as Job was by Satan, as allowed by the Searcher of hearts. Are you ready for the test?

“Of Job, the patriarch of Uz, the testimony of the Searcher of hearts was, ‘There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.’

“Against this man, Satan brought scornful charge: ‘Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? … Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath;’ ‘touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.’

“The Lord said unto Satan, ‘All that he hath is in thy power.’ ‘Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.’

“Thus permitted, Satan swept away all that Job possessed—flocks and herds, menservants and maidens, sons and daughters; and he ‘smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown’ (Job 1:8–12; 2:5–7).” Education, 155.

Think of Job’s experience as you read the following end time prophecy:

“As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God.” The Great Controversy, 618.

Do not think that you or any other professed Christian will escape the testing time. No.

  • Satan will accuse us
  • Our Lord will permit Satan to try us to the uttermost
  • Our confidence in God and our faith and firmness will be severely tested

Oh my brothers and sisters, now is the time to build up our faith in Jesus as our Saviour and Redeemer. The testing time coming for each of us will “require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger—a faith that will not faint though severely tried.” Conflict and Courage, 369.

Are you ready? This is the game of eternal life. Satan wants to win the game against you and cause you to lose eternal life, eternal happiness because he has lost the battle. Don’t let him! Stand for God now no matter what earthly comforts you may lose. Now is the day of preparation. Job lost all, but God restored much more than he had lost. Will you let go of this world and stand for God at the loss of all earthly things?

Heavenly Father, Give me the strength now to do what is right, no matter what the cost. I want You to be able to say of me as you said about Job: “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” This is the desire of my heart. You have promised: “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). I claim that promise. I choose eternal life with You rather than eternal death with the devil. Help me Lord! Amen.