For graduates: Prayerful discernment is key to job search, being worker God needs

As The Catholic Post was putting together the story on “Faithful Careers: Integrating the Catholic Faith and Work” by Dr. Peter Smudde, we asked for his thoughts about why taking a faith-filled approach to finding a job and building one’s career is important to bring college graduates the kind of satisfaction they’re seeking. His response follows.

Graduations are such high marks of achievement. They are much more a beginning than an ending — that’s why the ceremonies are called “commencements.” Celebrating the achievement of graduation is wonderful to do because of all the work, time, growth, and experiences that built toward the fulfillment of earning a certificate, diploma, or degree. When thanking people who helped you along the way, it is very important to thank and praise God.

Dr. Peter Smudde

Beginning, commencing on a job search after graduation is both exciting and daunting. The zeal to apply your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences is energizing and inspires much hope for a quick and successful job search. But the time and the effort that job searches can take before they are successful can vary greatly because of so many factors, most especially the field in which you search and the economic forces on industry and society. A faithful approach to the search is truly essential.

Remember you are not alone in your job search. God is with you. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — oracle of the LORD — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NABRE). For your part, trust in God and pray for guidance, as these actions are vital to discern God’s will for you as a humble worker in His vineyard who must give Him glory through your work.

A job search depends on perseverance, which relies on the combination of the cardinal virtue of courage (i.e., face uncertainty and rejection) and the theological virtue of hope (i.e., trust in the Lord for what is best for whatever period of time to help you in the next step of your career working in His vineyard).

Trust in God and pray for guidance, as these actions are vital to discern God’s will for you as a humble worker in His vineyard who must give Him glory through your work.

Worldly ways, however, can distract or even misdirect you to what matters most. You become desensitized to God, His will, and the faithful guidance you need. “Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:17, NABRE). We must live by right priorities: Keep God as primary and all other things follow. Faithful discernment through prayer is key.

That discernment is the very substance of a job search. You certainly have done a lot of thinking and planning for the kind of job you want after graduation so you can launch your career. That work plays into and is part of your discernment about your job search, career, and opportunities that arise. But remember, too, that getting a job is a job in itself.

STAY OPEN TO GOD’S WILL

Prayers for being open to God’s will for you, given who you have become through His grace, are essential so you can listen for Him and, very important, choose wisely any opportunity related to your job search and career. Use the best and most-credible resources to find the jobs that most suit you and the career path you discerned. Think and pray well about your findings so that you can, again, choose wisely. Realize, too, that on your career path, there may be a new one that emerges, and prayerful discernment is essential to know whether to follow it or not.

Praying for a particular job or for a certain kind of job is good. What is better are prayers of adoration and of thanksgiving to God for being and becoming the kind of worker He needs you to be in His vineyard. And ask others to help you, including your guardian angel and saints whom you admire. Praying for St. Joseph’s intercession, as he is the patron of workers, would be highly appropriate. One example is to pray the Novena to St. Joseph to Find a Job. Also be present before the Blessed Sacrament and pray prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication that relate to your role as a worker in God’s vineyard.

Work was ordained by God, as He gave Adam and Eve the mission to “cultivate and care for” the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15, NABRE), and this mission was well before Adam and Eve’s original sin against God. The work you and everyone does is a collaboration with God in His creation, as he gave us all things interior to us and external to us to take care of it — to give Him glory through who we are and the work we do.

REJOICE AND GIVE THANKS

When you do find a job, rejoice in it, give thanks and praise to God, and be salt and light in the world.

When you do find a job, rejoice in it, give thanks and praise to God, and be salt and light in the world (see Matthew 5:13-16). As Catholics, we all are charged to live the faith in every aspect of our lives every day with everyone in everything you think, say, and do. Naturally, then, our work for ourselves, our families, employers, volunteer organizations, parishes, community groups, and so on are literal demonstrations of our Catholic faith. Whether someone is weak or strong in the faith, the point is that the Catholic faith has already provided us with the divine framework for doing good in all that we do — whatever we do for others, no matter who they are, we do unto God.

As you have learned through your studies that led you to graduation, God has given you special gifts and talents, and He needs you to use them well in His creation. “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace[, for] whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10, NABRE)

Dr. Peter Smudde is professor and associate director of the School of Communication at Illinois State University. Contact him at faithful.careers@gmail.com.

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