Love My Title More Than My Work? – Dr Annetta Tsang

Navigating career transitions as evolving professionals


From Luke’s Journal Jan 2023  |  Vol.28 No.1  |  Evolving Professionals

Art by TaTa

Research tells us that having fifteen different jobs and changing seven careers in a lifetime is the work-life norm, now and in the future.1,2 Working in one job for a lifetime is becoming a rarity. Some may think of it as ‘almost ludicrous’.3  

In health, particularly medicine, leaving the ranks and changing jobs (let alone careers), is not so easy. The time and finance invested into becoming a medical practitioner, the pride and social status of being a doctor, the world’s need for doctors, and even well-intended comments from friends, colleagues and family, can make a desired career shift seem beyond reach.4 For a Christian medical professional who views medicine as a calling or a vocation, the struggle and guilt of simply contemplating a change and the fear of seemingly ‘letting God down’, may be significantly overwhelming. After all, if we think of our work as a vocation or a specific calling from God, is it ok to want to stop working or to desire a change in career?

Work is god’s idea

Let’s remember that work is God’s idea. God Himself is an exemplary worker. God created the world and everything in it, including human beings! The Bible began with the first examples of work and working hard in Genesis. Adam was put to work as soon as he was created (Genesis 1:27-28; Genesis 2:15-20). In the New Testament, Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 TNIV, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat”, and in Ephesians 6: 7-9 TNIV, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

Work is from God, the ability to do work is from God, and most importantly, we work for God.”

If we read the same verses in The Message version of the Bible, it further elaborates that we are to “work heartily, as Christ’s servants, doing what God wants [us] to do. And work with a smile on the face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, [we’re] really serving God”. In the Biblical context, work does not refer to just paid work. Work refers to all kinds of work, paid and unpaid, within the home and outside the home, within the church and outside the church. Also, what is perceived as leisure to one person, may be work for another, and vice versa.

Art by TaTa

As Christians, it is important to acknowledge that work is from God, the ability to do work is from God, and most importantly, we work for God. Therefore, since work is God’s idea and He created us to work, we generally tend to be happier or more content if we work in some form and capacity, whether at home, at church, as a volunteer, or as part of the paid workforce.

How we do our work is more important than what we do

Of course, God can and does call some people to a very specific vocation or role. For example, in Exodus 31: 1-5 TNIV, we read how God chose Bezalel, and “filled Him with the Spirit of God” and gave him “wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts”. God called and equipped Bezalel to be a master craftsman for the Tabernacle. God also called Noah to build the ark, Moses to lead the Israelites, and David to be king. Then, in the New Testament, Paul was called to teach and serve as a missionary, and Jesus called the 12 disciples. In modern days, pastors often describe themselves as being called by God into full-time church ministry.

Whatever your do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

However, the Bible does not say that God specifically mandates each of us to any one career or job or vocation. He is more likely to guide our hearts and thoughts and desires, to bring our attention to certain needs, impart discernment, and give us the relevant skills and abilities. In developed countries, we often consider what we do for work as part of our identity. For example, we get asked from a young age, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” And when we have grown up, we get asked, “What type of work do you do?” or “Where do you work?”. In contrast, God does not emphasise the importance of one career or work over another. To God, it is not important whether someone is a king or a servant. God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Furthermore, God prioritises love, obedience, and faithfulness. How we do our work is more important to God than what job we do, what title we hold, or how much our job earns. Colossians 3:23 TNIV says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for human masters”.

Art by TaTa

Confusion about vocation, calling… and pride

Interestingly, vocation comes from the Latin vocatio, meaning ‘a call’ or ‘summons’. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines vocation as “a summon or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action”.5 Over time, various meanings have been conferred to vocation, including “a type of work that you feel you are suited to doing and to which you should give all your time and energy6, and as a synonym of “occupation, calling, employment, profession, trade”.5 The Christian vocation or calling is more related to loving God and loving others (Ephesians 6:5), sharing God’s love, honouring God and serving others. Vocation then, is not primarily abouta career or a job. Vocation is more about spiritual service. At the very root of the Christian vocation or calling is God’s call for us to follow Him (Romans 1:6, Romans 8:28), to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5: 17-20) and to fulfill His Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20).3 From this perspective, answering God’s calling or fulfilling our Christian vocation is not limited by our career choice, the position we work in, the workplace we work from, or how many times we have changed our jobs or careers.7

Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center?”– Os Guiness, The Call

God does lead us and guide us, but He has also given us freedom of choice. The onus is on us to choose what is right in the eyes of the Lord, whether we are deciding what career path to choose, which job or position to accept, whether to do paid work versus unpaid work, part-time or full-time hours. For example, as Christians, we would aim to avoid working in jobs that conflict with the Christian faith, such as work that involves adultery or theft. Making the most of every opportunity to use our uniqueness to magnify God and “make a big deal about God8 for His purpose, is more important than making what we or others might otherwise perceive as being the right choice or choices about our work.

Art by TaTa

One potential factor in being unwilling to give up work, or transition into different work opportunities or positions is pride. This may be the case particularly if we view the potential change in our work as “lesser” (less prestigious, less pay, less impact, etc.). Our career can also become our idol. As Christians, we must ask ourselves, “Am I holding onto my position and my job, because I am convinced it is God’s calling for me? Or am I holding onto my position and my job because it feeds my pride?” Os Guinness, in The Call, wrote, “Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center? Do we put our emphasis on service, usefulness, or being productive in working for God – at His expense? Do we strive to prove our own significance? To make a difference in the world? To carve our names in marble on the monuments of time? The call of God blocks the path of all such deeply human tendencies. We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. We are not called to special work, but to God. The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God Himself”. Micah 6: 8 TNIV reminds us, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. The Message version of the latter part of the same Bible verse puts it as, “And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously”.9

God’s sovereignty

God is sovereign over all parts of our life.10 This means our career, where we are working and what we are doing, is all known and permitted by God. In that sense, it is a holy ‘calling’ from God. God can and does direct His children to particular circumstances for particular purposes at particular times for particular seasons. Likewise, He can remove His children from any of those particularities to an entirely different calling and equip and enable his children to fulfill that different calling. What’s more? Even if we make a suboptimal choice, our God is bigger than any of our ‘wrong decisions’. Instead of worrying about a wrong choice, pray. Believe that our God oversees EVERYTHING. Have faith in God. Trust Him. Remember Proverbs 16: 9 TNIV, “In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.

Finally, work is but one aspect of life. God’s calling is not limited to work. God calls us to be Christ-like in any and every aspect of living life on earth.

So, if you’ve ever wondered about your career choice or contemplated a career shift, whether you are a medical professional or not, be confident that God is MUCH BIGGER than any wrong choices, uncertain decisions, or detours that you make (or you think you make). Be happy doing what you have chosen to put your energy, time, and dedication into.

It is fine to want to change our careers.

It is fine to do paid work or unpaid work.

It is fine to work full-time or part-time.

It is also fine to have multiple different jobs, work as a locum or a freelancer.

Career transitions are part of our unique life on earth. This may be different for each of us. There is no set formula or single trajectory, no ‘one size fits all’. Rather, we can be confident that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 TNIV). Guidance from God is possible through prayer, the Bible, and our Christian community and what’s more, our Heavenly Father also cares about our true desires. Psalm 37:4 TNIV reminds us that we are to, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”


Bible passages were taken from Today’s New International Version (TNIV)/The Message REMIX Parallel Bible. USA: Zondervan, 2005.

Dr Annetta Tsang
Dr Annetta Tsang is a member of the Luke’s Journal editorial team and is involved in children’s ministry at her church. She is a paediatric dentist and an academic editor. Annetta is also a sessional staff at Bond University. Spending time with her family, art, books, desserts and coffee are some of her favourite things.


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