Fr Jack Green, who until last year was a priest at Mary, Queen of the Parish, Blacktown, and currently on study leave, understands making decisions around your future can be stressful. Plus, he half jokes, young people right now generally seem more resistant to locking themselves into long-term pathways than generations before.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he says, but if it creates stress and uncertainty or holds up progress, it needs to be addressed.
“It’s scary, but the reality of life is that to get on in your life, you have to make some decisions and stick to them,” he says.
“When it’s a decision that has a long-term impact, like your work, there’s a lot to think about. Having some stress indicates how important the decision is. The good news is that there’s a way to deliberately and intentionally consider your choice. It gives you a sense of control and can help you feel calmer.”
While making decisions usually involves a number of factors, Fr Jack says the key is to be methodical, and to remember God’s wisdom and love is there for us.
“If we are paying attention, God gives us clues to what work is suited to each of us, and what He would like us to do,” he says.
“Something I have learned, is that God is not asking us to play a guessing game,” says Fr Jack. “God is not like that. Instead, He has given us the tools to make good decisions.”
To start with, we need to pay close attention to the desires that we are drawn to, and to what is happening around us, he explains. It’s a way of thinking that has been a part of the Catholic Church since the time of St Augustine, but Fr Jack finds many Catholics aren’t aware of this.
“We need to learn how to listen closely to ourselves and think about what our desires are telling us about what we want,” he says. “This can be a way of God guiding us.”
Sometimes you may still end up with a number of conflicting emotions. This is when Fr Jack recommends tapping into the wisdom we have around us, through people who have more experience, and who can help us rank what’s most important.
The gift of dignity in work
The great news, says Fr Jack, is that we can have confidence that God wants us to have work that enables us to flourish as human beings. And he wants each of us to find what that is.
“God wants us to work,” he says. “Right from Genesis, we are told about His work creating the world, and the work He gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“In this sense, work brings us closer to God. It’s part of the human experience. We find references about working supporting human dignity, documented in the scriptures. Popes have also written about it such Laboris Exercens, released 40 years ago in September last year by Pope St John Paul II.”
He reassures young people making their first real decisions about their future careers, that as time goes by, the decisions made at age 15, 16 or 17 won’t determine their whole life.
“The main thing,” says Fr Jack, “is to trust that God is guiding you. Be open to what he is saying.”
Things to remember
- God is with you, and your work is His gift. When you hand over to God in this way, you might find new joy in an aspect of your work you didn’t like before.
- Sometimes a job you don’t always enjoy might also be preparing you for your next step. Be patient.
- You can be a witness to God in whatever field you work in. How you carry out your job can demonstrate your faith when you act with integrity, kindness and compassion.
- If you really don’t know what you want to do, or what you want seems unattainable, trust that God has given you the ability to work it out. Pray. Then be open to the opportunities you may start to see.
This article appeared in the March edition of Catholic Outlook Magazine. Read the full edition here.