Careers: God’s Will or Your Way? (Genesis 12:10-20)
See the Marriage Series Description for more information on this lesson.
Much is said these days about career management.
What Color Is Your Parachute, a book on career management that comes out in revised form every year, is one of the top selling perennials in America. There are talk radio shows, seminars and work shops, week-long conferences, newsletters full of tidbits and bite-size insights, all devoted to career management.
Everywhere you turn you see and hear claims to help you in every possible situation from getting started to getting downsized and everything in between. I know career advisors that specialize in such specific niches as the banking industry or in executives making over six figures or engineers or computer whizzes. Corporations have whole human resources divisions devoted solely to helping people with career management.
With all the attention given to this, there is one major assumption that lies at the foundation of all that goes on, and that assumption concerns the career manager.
The assumption is this: You are your career manager. No one else is going to look out for you. Either you look out for yourself or just look out! #1 is all that matters.
Know yourself and make yourself known. You make your own breaks. Put your eyes on the prize or you will pay the price.
You can say it in any number of ways, but it all comes down to he same thing:
Control your career or your career will control you!
Now seen from a certain perspective all of this makes great sense. It is true that we are responsible for ourselves. It is true that we often make our own breaks, but, probably even more often, someone else acted to give us the break we got. It’s just that in our independence we want to take credit for far more than we deserve.
But I believe we should take another look at the career manager.
Are we really our best career managers.
You know the old saying that a lawyer who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a lawyer? I wonder if the person who has himself or herself for a career manager has a fool for a career manager.
Is there someone else who could manager our careers more effectively than we can?
Who might that be?
Well, I’ll tell you, that someone is one who demands absolute and utter control, someone who says, Trust Me and do what I tell you no matter what! Obviously, I’m talking about making God our career manager.
But the problem with God is you can’t really trust Him.
Everywhere I turn I see the evidence that many in today’s times believe this. I see so many who want God’s will for the morality of our country; I see so many who want God’s will for the economy of our country. I see so many who want God’s will for the families of our country. I see so many who want God’s will for the schools of our country.
But when it comes to careers I see an entirely different picture.
When it comes to careers I see men and women both saying, Thank you God, but I’ll take over here, and this is where it all breaks down. Our faith demands a radical commitment of everything to God and total trust in Him for all that we seek and desire. And this kind of radical commitment is too much for us when it comes to the most central realities of life such as our careers because our careers are our identities. As a result, so many of us don’t make a radical commitment of our careers, and this affects everything else that matters the most to us, including our families.
In the vast majority of cases, our careers mean much more to us than our families. This is the only thing that makes sense when we see men and, now, women, sacrificing their families for their careers.
So it is this morning that we come to principle #2 in our study of MARRIAGE GOD’S WAY. This morning I am raising and seeking to answer the question,
Careers: God’s Will or Your Way?
PRINCIPLE #1 WAS: Obey god’s word at all costs.
Obey god’s word at home no matter how tough it gets.
Now we see principle #2.
Trust God Alone for Career and Financial Success
Today we come to a major event in Abraham’s life that shows us that even for men and women of faith, career and financial success are more important than trusting God. Come to Genesis 12:10 where we shall make four observations that show what happens when we reject this principle.
Our first observation shows that
If We Want Our Way We Act Rather than Trust When Trouble Comes Our Way - 12:10.
A. Abraham Acts when Trouble Comes His Way (Genesis 12:10).
1. God’s will is rarely easy and virtually never trouble free.
a. Sometimes, often, doing God’s will seems to be more trouble than it’s worth
b. Just let me be in trouble; I certainly can do a better job than God can.
c. It’s just so much easier to take over for ourselves and make sure things get done right.
d. God leads us into famine and expects us to trust Him, and this after we’ve trusted Him by giving up everything we have ever known.
2. Abraham takes God’s will into his own hands.
a. Abraham acts rather than trusts.
b. We all know he acted out of need for the good of his family, but his action did not come out of faith.
c. He raised no prayers.
d. He built no altar.
e. He reviewed no promises.
f. He just kept on going because when it came to his finances he was still in control.
g. He had not yet learned what kind of a mess he could make.
h. He only considered his need and what he could do about it.
B. We Act when Trouble Comes Our Way.
1. Now not all of us do this.
a. Some of us are ahead of Abraham at this point in our lives.
b. We’ve learned what happens when we pursue our careers under our own control.
c. We’ve learned we can be successful everywhere but at home.
d. We’ve learned we can make money and move forward out there, but we’ve also learned that success and money are not enough to build a family.
e. There’s no doubt that success and money benefit a family greatly, but more is needed than that.
2. Some of us are learning this.
a. Like Abraham, we’ve gone our own way and gained what we could--and found out how much this costs.
b. Some wives are learning this.
c. Wives can send mixed signals, signals for success in the world and security at home, but you can’t have both.
d. Like husbands, wives will have to make choices.
3. Some of us are still pursuing our own way because we have not yet learned Abraham’s lesson.
So we act when we should trust.
Next we see that
If We Want Our Way We Deceive Rather than Depend to Deliver Ourselves – (Genesis 12:11-12)
A. ABRAHAM DECEIVES RATHER THAN DEPENDS.
1. Once Abraham decided to act rather than trust, he was on his own - dependent on his own devices.
2. Life was up to him, and he would have to act accordingly.
3. So he uses the world’s means, the means of the half truth which is really a deceptive lie.
4. And so, too often, must we when we make this same decision.
a. We must mislead and deceive when we choose to control our careers rather than trusting God and His goodness toward us.
b. Our sales presentations, our reports to superiors, our contracts, our promises, everything we do will be marked when we act rather than trust God to act.
c. If it’s all up to us, we’ll do whatever we can to make it.
5. It doesn’t have to be by any means, but it was for Abraham, and it is for so many others.
B. Sarah Supports Rather than Resists - (Genesis 20:13).
1. I used to think that Sarah was simply used by Abraham.
2. As things turn out, that was the case, but there’s more to it than this.
3. As I thought about our time today, it struck me that Sarah was fully capable of resisting Abraham when she wanted to.
a. She was fully capable of getting him to do what she wanted when she wanted a son by Hagar.
b. She was fully capable of screaming a curse on him when things with Hagar did not turn out as she wanted them to.
c. She was fully capable of forcing Abraham to send his own son, Ishmael, away from their home when she felt threatened by his actions toward Isaac.
d. Sarah was not some weak, powerless, helpless woman, who could not speak up nor influence her husband.
4. Sarah could speak her mind and get her way when she so desired.
5. Apparently, Abraham and Sarah had entered into an arrangement whereby she would be his sister when they felt they were in danger (Genesis 20:13).
6. Perhaps they saw this together as a negotiating chip, not so much to make money as to meet their needs until the famine was over.
7. Wives must make decisions as much as husbands when it comes to career management.
a. Wives must decide which they most want; success and security or godliness and His gifts.
b. You may end up with both in God’s hand--but, then again, you may not.
c. But it is not right for you to encourage your husband to go in one direction, then discover how much it costs, and blame him for a decision that is as much yours as it is his.
C. ALTHOUGH ABRAHAM DECEIVED, HE DID NOT INTEND TO DISOBEY GOD - (Genesis 12:10).
1. Abraham had no intention of settling permanently in Egypt.
a. He did not go there to settle there, but to sojourn there. (Genesis 12:10)..
b. His plan was to return to Canaan when the famine was over.
c. He never intended to disobey God in what he did.
d. He just didn’t see how he could trust God and make it.
2. Many of us make similar decisions.
a. We really do want to obey God.
b. We just haven’t yet learned how to trust Him when famine comes.
c. We’ve always acted before.
d. We’re only doing what we think we should be doing.
e. Like Abraham, we need to learn how to depend and never deceive.
Look what happens.
If We Want Our Way We End Up Controlled Rather Than In Control Because We Can’t Control All Events – (Genesis 12:14-17).
A. Abraham’s Approach Didn’t Work - (Genesis 12:14-15).
1. Abraham met someone who was bigger than he was.
2. Abraham met someone who didn’t have to negotiate.
3. Abraham met someone who simply had more power than he had.
4. Abraham never expected this to happen.
B. Abraham Found Himself without Control.
1. Again and again and again, you see the same reality: control is the key to life.
2. We are driven to be in control.
3. God is determined to move us out of control.
4. The interesting thing is that the way God gets us out of control is to let us be in control.
a. That’s fascinating to me.
b. God lets us have our head, go our way, do what we want, and make a mess of it all.
c. That’s when we pray and cry out to Him.
C. God Asserted His Control on Behalf of Abraham - (Genesis 12:17).
1. God made a promise to Abraham, and He had to act in order to keep it.
2. God had every intention of keeping His promise to Abraham, even when Abraham disobeyed Him.
3. We cannot presume that God will intervene for us.
a. God hasn’t made the same kind of promises to us.
b. God has made promises to meet our needs, to provide for us, to care for us.
c. But those promises don’t include the guaranteed blessing He gave to Abraham.
d. He has not promised to bless us in the same way He promised to bless Abraham.
e. He has not promised to make a nation out of us.
f. He has not promised a place on earth, a place in time and eternity.
g. He has not promised to protect us and our descendants in exactly the same way He did Abraham.
4. We can be certain God will not desert us.
a. But we have no claim on a house or a lifestyle or a position or power.
b. We can turn out to be quite ordinary rather than the very special person we think ourselves to be.
c. Many of us have had to deal with this in our lives.
d. We may be more of a legend in our own minds than a legend in our own times.
5. So we have no guarantee that God will intervene for us, but we can be certain God will care for us.
There is one more observation.
If We Want Our Way We Are Ashamed Rather than Successful Because Our Actions Bring a Valid Accusation - (Genesis 12:18-20).
A. ABRAHAM’S ACTIONS BRING HIM SHAME.
B. PHARAOH’S WORDS BRING ABRAHAM REBUKE (Genesis 12:19-20).
1. When we contrast the two speeches in this passage, we find that the pagan tells more truth than the believer.
2. What a shameful position in which to put ourselves.
3. How often unbelievers reject believers because they find us too much like themselves.
How much better it is to live according to our principle for this morning, principle #2:
Trust God Alone for Career
and Financial Success.