Who Really Controls My Career?
As you follow your dreams and seek to understand God’s calling on your life, there are always setbacks and broken dreams that make us wonder, who really controls my career. In fact, every calling God gives us includes walking into a land we do not know, placing our faith in the God we do not see, and seeing beyond the giants in the land to which we are called. This is true whether you were called to work in the media or the military, or whether you were called to Hollywood or Haiti. No matter the call, your faith will be tested, and you will be forced to rely on God’s strength instead of your own.
Modern Day Giants
Giants struck fear in the hearts of the Israelites, waiting to enter the promised land. The promises of God lost hold in their hearts as the giants gripped them with fear. This struggle described in the Old Testament, is present today, though the giants we face are not physically giant. Giants today are people who have power to influence your career, and bitterness towards God and his people. They may be museum curators, video game production executives, or top celebrities in your field. No matter what industry you seek to work in, there are people who will be opposed to you because they are opposed to God. (Matt 10:22)
The temptation will always be one of two things.
It will either be to:
1) water down your faith, and the spiritual content in your art in order to appease the gatekeepers, or
2) give up and avoid pursuing success at the highest level.
Hollywood has its share of giants, and it is foolish to deny it. Media moguls and Conglomerates possess the power to elevate talented people to the level of celebrity and the power to destroy careers. Such power is intoxicating and blinding to those who hold it, and human nature tells us they will do almost anything to protect their power. Such was the blinded, abusive power wielded by Harvey Weinstein. He made some women stars and blocked the ones who would not bow to his demands. He destroyed careers, and abused women. He was a giant in the land.
These giants are in every industry. How do I know this? Because our human, sinful nature is universal. Even museums, classical music and opera are not free from abuse. From Placido Domingo to James Levine, the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, evil people are always tempted to take advantage of others who have no power. Several museums fired executives and managers in the last two years over issues of abuse. They aren’t all sexual predators. They are all men and women, who have allowed the power they possess to go to their head, and allowed the sinful desires in their heart to inflict pain on those working for them.
When Giants Fall
Giants are not impervious to a downfall. They may thwart the careers of good people, but they will not last forever. This is because the giants are not in control of your career. Here are a few verses to keep in mind with leaders like Harvey Weinstein:
[One] who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict.
Therefore, disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
– Proverbs 6:14-15 (NLT)
When the wicked die, their hopes die with them, for they rely on their own feeble strength.
– Proverbs 11:7 (NLT)
The good news is this: Giants will fall. They are not gods. They are mortals. Giants will come and go, but God will still be sovereign, and Jesus will still be on the throne. No matter what giants threaten or even succeed in doing, your father in Heaven is still in control, and the Holy Spirit is still there with you to give you hope, and peace that passes understanding.
Seeing Beyond the Giants
I remember driving home one night from fellowship with artists in Pasadena a few months back. On that night, something struck me. As we passed the Disney Studios building in Burbank, and Warner Brothers Studios lot, I saw them for what they are – man made institutions that cannot stand forever. They are still filled with talented people, but they are not impervious to winds of change and the challenges of the market. Even the recent pandemic brought the Disney parks to a halt in a way no one could have imagined the year before.
I remember when we first moved to Los Angeles, and I was excited to attend SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) screenings at Disney Studios with my wife, who is a member of SAG. But now, years later, the appeal and the luster had faded. Sure, these studios still have influence and power, but it is simply a business, and businesses will come and go.
The Blockbuster Video stores I rented movies from as a kid are gone. I thought ‘Toys R Us’ would never go out of business because kids will never stop having birthdays and parents will never stop looking for puzzles and toys to give their kids. I was wrong, and we know that now because they are gone. Companies come and go.
Even media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has been tremendously successful in the industry for decades, didn’t have the Midas touch. He failed in launching his media company Quibi. Sure, due to his history, he was able to raise 2 Billion dollars to launch it. Yet even with all that money, and all that knowledge of the industry did not guarantee them any success. There are no guarantees, and no executives, artists or companies that last forever.
Seeing Through New Eyes, With Love
If you only see your industry leaders, celebrities, investors and companies as a fan, you will never find the peace and hope God promised to give you. But when you begin to love your industry not as a fan, but because you see it the way God sees it, the giants lose their power. Your heart begins to focus on eternal goals, instead of your career. And when your career is not the most important thing to you, there is no ambition which the powerful can use to manipulate or threaten in order to tempt you to compromise.
This was part of what gave Jesus so much power. He did not need anything form the Romans, or the Pharisees. They had no leverage in order to control him or to convince him to compromise. Even Satan couldn’t use his own weakness while fasting in the desert to convince Jesus to alter his allegiance and give in to the temptation.
It is through the heart of love that you can sit and talk graciously with an intern or Steven Spielberg, because they are not a steppingstone to your heart’s greatest desire. Now they are people made in God’s image, whom God has placed in your life today so that you would be his hands and feet in that situation. Maybe you will have an opportunity to share your faith, and maybe you won’t have that credibility yet, but your heart can stay fixed on loving your ‘neighbor’, above your desire to have an amazing career.
Hearing the Gospel
The giants in the land need to hear the gospel more than you need to get their approval. Unlike the Old Testament, we are not called to destroy these giants in the land. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ whose desire is to rescue them by breaking them out of the bondage to sin and death that weighs them down. The giants are not our enemies, but even if you see them as your enemy, you are called to love them.
And here is the beautiful power of the gospel: If we truly love our neighbors throughout the art world, the media and the entertainment industry, the fear of these giants is destroyed. We know this to be true because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
When we begin to love them as God loves them, and see their brokenness and their humanity, we see that they are no different than you and I. With a heart that loves like this, our temptation to idolize celebrities and to fear giants will begin to fade away.
There is nothing wrong with gaining the approval, acceptance, and applause of those giants. The problem arises when we want that approval in our industry more than we want the approval of God. As long as we want the applause of women and men more than the approval of God, we will fall into temptation to compromise and lose our ability to be salt and light in the areas of our culture that desperately needs it. Our only hope is to ask God to open the “eyes of heart” (Ephesians 1:18) to understand the gospel more clearly and to see the world the way he sees it.
God Will Take Care of the Giants
If you look back at the story of the Israelites taking the Promised Land, there is a wonderful play on words. Originally, there was a fear that gripped the hearts of most of the Israelite spies when they saw the giants. These giants were the descendants of the Nephilim, and they were physically intimidating. It was understandable why the spies were disheartened, but it was the sin of unbelief. These men failed to believe the same God who rescued them from Pharaoh with the 10 plagues could not defeat these Nephilim. They forgot all God had done for them, and how powerfully God had rescued them. But when Israel finally returned from wandering forty years in the wilderness, here is what God says,
“This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven.
They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”
– Deuteronomy 2:25
There is a point, when God is ready to take his people into the land which He has promised them, and nothing will stop Him. In fact, the roles will be reversed, as the giants find their hearts struck with terror. It is those who mocked you and despised you that will now cower before you because they recognize you are a child of the one true God.
This passage does not tell us when it will happen, but we know that honoring God and remaining faithful to his word will eventually lead us in triumph. It make take a year, or a decade, but God has not forgotten you. We also know this is how it all will end in the book of Revelation. In the end, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
Who Really Controls My Career?
The question you need to answer right now is this: Where is your hope? Maybe you have been focused only on your success as an artist or a creative. Maybe you have been focused on what you can accomplish. This is the road to despair – Whether you make it to the top or not. If you don’t make it you can only blame yourself. If you do make it, you will realize such success does not fill the ache in your soul. If you want hope that doesn’t fade, you must put your hope in God. He is the only one who can take care of the giants in the land, and take care of you.
God is the only one who can give you the peace and joy no matter what trials you face or what giants seem to be in your way. He is the only one who can open doors no man can shut. He is the only one who can blind and distract those who would block your path. God’s plans are never thwarted. He is with you in the trials, and he will be with you to celebrate the victories.
But remember, God is more interested in your sanctification than your career goals. In other words, God’s primary passion is for you to become like Christ, not to be a star or a celebrity. In fact, the quicker you become a celebrity without becoming like Christ, the more likely you are to do something foolish, and bring shame upon yourself and the name of Christ. We cannot put our career ambitions above our spiritual calling to become like Christ.
A Place For You
And no matter what happens, God is preparing a place for you in Heaven, where there will be no more giants. When we get to heaven, our creativity will be unleashed in a whole new way. Then, we will realize how foolish we were to fear these giants. We will realize how the pleasures and accolades of this world are mere morsels compared to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God (Revelation 19:6-9).
Who is in control of your career? God. He has not forgotten you. He will never forsake you. He offers forgiveness for your sins and mercy for your daily work, each and every morning. The biggest mistake you could make today is to forget to approach the throne of God in prayer, to repent and receive his forgiveness, and to ask him to help you see the world through His eyes.
Then, you will not fear the giants, the trials, or the struggles. You will expect them, and remember God’s gift of His Holy Spirit to comfort us in such times. This is the life we were called to live, and are blessed to live. May we always run back to our heavenly father to worship Him and to ask for the grace, mercy and strength to do all that He has called us to do.
Copyright © 2021 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
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