As the Capital Fellows Program drew to a close, I began thinking a lot about next steps, particularly in regards to my career path. I’ve been in D.C. now for just over two years, I’m almost 25 and still an intern. I try not to let this fact bother me, but this is a city where status is everything. Whenever I meet someone here, it’s always “Hey Andy, it’s great to meet you. Now what do you do for a living?” Sometimes I’ll answer in generalities, while other times I’ll try to inflate my title or job description just so the other person can know I’m important. But the truth is, most days at work I don’t feel important and my job feels meaningless.
As I read through 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, I began to look at my internship experience differently. In verse 17, Paul talks about the Lord’s call on people’s lives: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” This verse brings comfort to my present situation. The Lord called me to the Fellows program and placed me in this community for a year. I can tell beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is and was the Lord’s plan for me from the moment I moved up to D.C. two years ago. He called me to the program and then assigned me my internship at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.
Paul goes on to explain how you are to understand God’s calling in verse 18 and 19: “Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.” In these verses, Paul speaks directly to the problem of status that we still deal with in today’s society. Status isn’t everything. Paul notes that while we all have been called into God’s plan, we haven’t all been called in the same way or to the same vocation. In this case, Paul was addressing the fact that Jewish people were called to circumcise themselves, in order to show that they were God’s people, while Gentiles were not.
Regardless of your condition when you were called, Paul says our number one priority is obeying Christ’s commands. When we practically apply Paul’s words today, he is simply stating in some ways that Jesus couldn’t care less whether you’re the CEO or an intern. What He’s after is your heart. This is helpful to me, as these words give meaning and power to my current status. I can do the Lord’s work right where I am and that pleases Him greatly.
While up to this point most of what Paul has written is great news for interns, he also wants to make sure that we understand that when we move beyond our internships and into more prestigious positions we remember the lesson he has taught us. “Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.” While interns are by no means the same thing as bondservants, we can see here that Paul is once again letting us know that though you may have menial jobs, you can still live your life fully for Christ. On the flip side– and this is where he cautions us– if you hold a higher rank, that isn’t what’s most important.
Paul wants us to know that status isn’t everything. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we honor and glorify God where He has placed us. We have power in our present position because He has assigned that position to us. Through this deeper understanding of what vocation means, I can see my menial job as meaningful in the long run.
Andy Pitts is a graduate of the 2015-2016 Capitol Fellows Program