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How to Trust God (and Not Just Your Feelings) When Switching Careers

Written by Bryan Wong, Singapore


I recently read a news report about how work-life balance is one of the top reasons why people make a career change. Another article featured people who are increasingly recognising that life is too short to continue an unhappy career simply to please their parents or meet societal expectations.

I can certainly relate to these emotions. I have changed careers not just once, but twice. Both times, it wasn’t because I was seeking better pay or career advancement. It was solely because I was dissatisfied with certain aspects of my job at the time.


Working until worn out

After graduating from university with a degree in IT, I worked in corporate for almost 9 years before stress and fatigue wore me down, and I began questioning whether I was really happy where I was.

I tried my best to push on, but over time, I started to dread even going into the office. One day, I just sat at my desk, not even wanting to turn on my laptop. After seeking wise counsel, I left the company without first securing another job.

After a 10-month break, I made a career change by joining a non-profit organisation, where I learnt to work with social media and got involved in other aspects of IT that were new to me. 

After another 8 years, however, I started to feel that I could no longer perform my assigned role well. Although I had learnt much and was doing my best to meet the requirements of my job, I began to feel that I would prefer to work in a place where I could interact more with people. 

After much deliberation and prayer, I left the job and made the decision to switch careers again.


Is how we feel a good reason to leave?

I sometimes wish I had a clear mandate from God, like how He had directed Abraham in no uncertain terms on where to go: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1–5). If only I could be as sure as Abraham, that I was going where God had planned for me to be!

But I never got clear answers to my prayers. Instead, in both cases, I made a decision based on what I knew and believed at that point, and asked God to see me through it. 

A large part of the decision was tied to how I felt about my job and where I hoped to be in future. One thing I knew was my inability to constantly keep up with new technologies; I found it hard to master them, and eventually I realised I had no desire to continue this pursuit.

This decision did not come about hastily, and I did take some time to reflect and explore the options available to me. In the end, it became clear to me that I had always wanted to use my gifts of empathy and being relational with others. These, I felt, were gifts that God had given me from young, and I wanted to be able to use them better. I’d found much joy in the past from journeying with a group of young adults in my church and hoped that my next job would be as fulfilling as that.

Perhaps some might say that making such a significant decision based on my feelings was immature.

But I do believe that our feelings are a major part of who we are, and God understands this. After all, He created us to be creatures with feelings and instincts—and our feelings help us know when something ought to be done because we’re struggling and unhappy, or when a decision is the right way forward because it makes us happy and fulfilled doing it. It is therefore natural for us to factor in how we feel in our decision-making.

Of course, we have to be careful not to take this idea to the extreme, doing whatever we feel like or being too emotional that we cannot be reasoned with. One way I prevented myself from letting feelings completely take over was to talk to my friends and loved ones about what made me unhappy in my job. Often their perspectives have helped ground my feelings and given me clarity on what I should do next.

Even though I didn’t get a specific answer from God on what to do, the verse in Romans 8:28 encouraged me to move forward. For I know that no matter the choice I make, God is sovereign over my life and whatever comes of my decision, He will ultimately mould me for His purposes.


Struggling with doubts 

I would be lying if I said I had no doubts about changing career both times. In fact, I’ve had many, ranging from whether I could actually find a job, to how prepared I was for an entirely different role, and whether I could pick up new skills as quickly and perform well at my age. 

It was even more difficult when I compared myself with my peers, many of whom had stuck with one career, climbed their respective corporate ladders, and were now managers or directors, and they could rest easy with their many years of industry experience to fall back on. 

Whenever these thoughts crept into my head, I would begin to ask myself: Should I not have changed careers? Where would I be now if I had remained in the IT industry? Did I make the right decision?

But as I asked these questions, I also realised that I was in effect questioning the time I had spent working in the non-profit organisation. Would I say that I had wasted my time there? Definitely not!

I’m repeatedly brought back to Ephesians 2:10, which talks about how God had prepared my life in advance for good works. Looking at the time I was working in the non-profit organisation, I remember clearly how God had revealed Himself to me there and had given me much joy in my service to Him. I would not have traded that for anything.


The certainty we have in God and His family

One thing that my experience with career changes has taught me is this: it is okay to have doubts, but don’t let them overwhelm you. 

If we let our doubts linger and overtake us, we might be tossed back and forth by indecision and let ourselves be overcome by the fear that we won’t make it or are unable to live out what we hope to achieve. Once paralysed by fear, we may become bitter about our situation.

I have found that one way to counter doubt is to remember God’s track record. Just like how He brought me through my first career change, I am holding on to this hope, this certainty, that He would continue to do the same as I venture into my latest endeavour.

I am encouraged by the story of how God walked with many people in the Bible—like Gideon, whose doubts were answered by God (Judges 6:1-39). Gideon’s experience shows us that when we are facing fears and uncertainty, we can surrender our doubts to God and trust Him to be with us as we move forward.

What has also helped greatly in my decision-making is knowing that I’m part of God’s people. In His wisdom, God has given us a family in Christ—a family who can help and support us when we have doubts or are struggling to make a decision. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

If we share our struggles with someone who is spiritually mature and whom we can trust, they may have the wisdom to shed light on our situation, the sources of our unhappiness, and the nature of our doubts. Through meaningful conversations and prayers, they can give us much comfort as a body of Christ. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s a prayer for you: 

Father, fill me with Your Spirit, that I may learn to surrender my doubts to You and put my trust in You, especially in times where I am unsure about the decisions I’ve to make or am moving into something new and unknown. Help me, Father. In Christ I pray, amen.

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