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Why Won’t God Give Me a Job Where I Can Use My Talents?

Written by AJ Wo, USA


Growing up, I had always loved numbers. In school, I often got the highest scores on math and science subjects, and my classmates would check their answers against mine after every test.

One time in second grade, we were taught to use a “trial and error” approach for math problems, which I found inefficient, so I unknowingly used the algebraic method (before I had learned what it was) to solve the problems.

But when it came to any subject involving words, I struggled with the lack of “structure” and  definitive solutions and formulas.

I often flunked my essays, as teachers would comment that my writings did not address the prompt. I’d stare blankly at a multiple-choice question on vocabulary and find all the words completely unheard of. One time, after spending an hour just to explain what the word “fuel” meant, my mum thought that English was not something that could be taught to me. 

But God had not given up on me as a hopeless case. 

During my freshman year in college, a church leader gave me a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It was the first book I picked up after over a decade. 

To my surprise, I found it easy to read as the author explained biblical concepts in layman terms and presented helpful analogies for Christianity. I also found the book engaging as it articulated and addressed questions I had about my faith. It was the first book I finished reading, and it warmed me up to the idea that books can be enriching. 

However, as soon as I passed my two mandatory writing classes, I thought that I was finally done with words and could complete the rest of my Statistics degree without having to write anything else. I fantasised about using my aptitude for math and numbers to make lots of money. 


Searching for my dream job—and failing

When I was about to graduate, I applied to various hedge funds and investment firms, where I’d heard people used sophisticated mathematical models to make billions of dollars. To make that goal seem less selfish, I thought I could just give some of the money I make to the poor in my home country, Indonesia.

However, as I kept getting rejections, I began to question why God wouldn’t give me a job where I can make the best use of my talents, even when I had a “noble” purpose in mind. I consoled myself with the thought that the “no” now could just mean “wait”, and I simply had to keep trying.

While God did not grant me a hedge fund job, He did bless me with a business analyst position at a tech company.

I didn’t mind the job since I could use my math skills, but I continued to try and get into the hedge fund industry at every opportunity. I even reached out to a college friend working at a hedge fund to tell him that I was interested in what they were doing. My friend was amused and told me that the people he knew were actually trying to get into my field. Despite this, I was still oblivious to the idea that God might be telling me to stay put. 

A year in, my manager started expanding my responsibilities to write narratives for executives to understand what’s going on with the business, and explain statistical concepts to non-technical audiences to get them on board with product changes. 

I grumbled to God about how I didn’t want to deal with words or people, and reminded Him about my wish to fast-track to more wealth. But since these tasks promised career advancement, and I wasn’t hearing anything from God, I began to spend less and less time crunching numbers and more time writing emails and documents to propose ideas and influence others. 


God working behind the scenes

When my small group started reading the book Screwtape Letters together, for some reason, people started looking to me to help explain what the text meant. All this time, God was gradually nurturing my ability to read and write, gently shepherding me toward a calling that I was not yet ready for. 

At a church retreat a few months ago, we were praying when the guest speaker came and spoke to me. “I have a vision for you, but first, I need to ask, do you happen to do some kind of writing?”

There was something about how the question was phrased that implied that my job isn’t specifically writing, and yet God has been steering me toward this direction and area of ministry. 

Upon hearing that, I felt in that moment that God wanted me to know that He was a personal God and that He cared enough to address me where I was. To make sure that I wasn’t simply going by my feelings, I took time to read the Scripture and consider if the message I’d received was consistent with God’s Word. I also prayed and asked God to show me how He has been moving in and through the different areas of my life. 

Going through this reflection process, I thought back to the question I had asked before: “Why doesn’t God just use the talents and passions that I already have?” As I continually brought my petitions and struggles to God, and as I studied His character through Scripture, with the guidance of mentors in my church, I came to better understand His intentions for me. 


Understanding God’s criteria for good works

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He did not recruit those who were highly educated and very knowledgeable about scriptures to be His disciples. Instead, He chose the uneducated fishermen, the despised tax collector, and the zealot, and these disciples eventually became the founders of the early church, preached the Gospel tirelessly to the ends of the world, and stayed faithful to the end as martyrs. 

We know how God called Moses, who was “not eloquent” and “slow of speech and of tongue”, to confront Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of slavery (Exodus 4:10-12). He called Saul, who was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”, to become His chosen instrument (Acts 9:1-31). I see how this is a theme for how God calls and uses us, that we experience the transformative power of His love and grace and become living testimonies of who He is. 

God desires for us to recognise our utter dependence on Him, and not think that what we have is due to our own merit or hard work. He wants us to feel so blessed by His spiritual gifts, to experience His mighty hand guiding us, and to fully rest in Him. 

I’ve come to see why God didn’t immediately allow me to go into the field I wanted—because I wasn’t ready; because I would’ve been prideful instead of glorifying God (1 Corinthians 13:3). God also showed me how I was vulnerable to pride whenever I was involved in ministries that made me feel accomplished and needed for my talents.

God is not a boss who’s simply looking for skilled workers to work for Him, but a Father who provides us, His children, what we need to accomplish the good works He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

While I remain in the same job that consists mostly of reading and writing, God has humbled me to submit to His plans and let Him lead me to wherever He would like to use or nurture me. Sometimes I feel so humbled that He would equip me and give me the opportunity to share His word in small groups, write devotional materials for my church, and even teach a class on the foundations of Christian faith to newcomers and nonbelievers. 

Being able to walk closely with God this way has been more fulfilling than all that I’ve aspired to do on my own, and is really all that matters.

1 reply
  1. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    This is such an insightful and encouraging piece of writing, it resonates with me a lot right now.
    It gets into those hairline cracks and exposes the reasons of those very frustrating ‘why’s?’ and lets us glimpse into what God is doing and his why’s and not ours.
    It makes a lot of sense and spares us heartache and misery when we look at it His way and accept His bigger picture and working out in our lives. Saves us from being like stunted shrubs in the wilderness.
    Thanks for writing and sharing this meaningful piece – much appreciated.


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