TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected].
Is it sinful to change your place of employment based on pay alone?
This is a great question. As God’s people, we’re called to live with different priorities than the world around us. We’re called to live for God’s kingdom, not our own. We’re called to prioritize faithfulness over success, obedience over wealth.
With that in mind, the decision to change your place of employment based on pay alone may still have acceptable—and even godly—reasons behind it. Here are two important questions a Christian should consider first.
1. How will a job change affect your ability to live for God’s mission?
Consider your work relationships. If you’ve established meaningful connections with your coworkers, a job change will affect those relationships. Where is God moving? Are there people at your workplace he’s calling you to care for and witness to? Of course, there are people to reach wherever you go—but it’s worth considering your current relationships.
I once changed jobs based on pay alone. I provided in-home therapy for a boy with autism and had worked with him three to four days a week for eight years. He was like family, so leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It felt like a betrayal.
But there was an important reason I chose to leave. His school district would no longer fund the type of therapy I provided. They offered to keep me on as an aide, a position that would decrease my pay by 60 percent. I wanted to stay. I deeply loved the boy I worked with and vehemently disagreed (as did the family) with the school district’s decision. But my husband and I were in the midst of paying for an international adoption. He was already working extra hours, and we depended on the income I contributed. I just couldn’t take a 60 percent pay cut when we were already struggling to cover adoption expenses.
As God’s people, we’re called to live with different priorities than the world around us.
I wanted to help ease the transition as best as I could. So I worked at the reduced rate for the summer, before taking a new job that offered much better pay. I anguished over the decision. And unfortunately, I think the family saw it as a betrayal. It looked like my decision was just about money, because in a way it was just about money. We had to make sacrifices to complete our adoption, and the deepest sacrifice I made was leaving a job—and a boy—I loved.
So maybe you should leave, but don’t leave lightly. Consider the people you’re leaving behind.
2. What’s driving your desire for more money?
Money itself isn’t bad. It helps provide for our families, bless our neighbors, feed the hungry, and build the church. We’re not called to take vows of poverty but rather to use whatever we’ve been entrusted with to serve the Lord. God will give some of us opportunities to make more money than others, because he calls us to stewardship in a diversity of ways. Yet we also must remember this warning:
Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Tim. 6:9–10)
This passage should sober us. We must humbly recognize our own weakness. None of us is above the temptation to wander from the faith in pursuit of riches. Just like every other temptation, greed is subtle, stealthy. It’s not going to be obvious at first.
Take time to pray for the Holy Spirit’s help and conviction. Humbly evaluate your motives: Are you excited to grow as a faithful steward, or are you chasing your own comfort? Seek counsel from godly brothers and sisters in Christ. The temptations associated with money are too dangerous to face alone.
Remember, Only Jesus Satisfies
To those who’ve been given the privilege of opportunities and choices, it’s tempting to continually be on the hunt for something more. But exploring “better options” can become a maddening rabbit hole.
Changing jobs for a better salary might yield new challenges. Sure, the money is better. But maybe the boss or the schedule or the workload isn’t. Whether you decide to leave or stay, remember that true contentment and satisfaction and fulfillment will only ever be found in Christ.