From counseling and teaching to nursing and emergency medical response, helping professions require strength, compassion, and resiliency. They’re personally and professionally rewarding, character-forming careers that can fulfill your desire to make a difference.
Yet, these professions also pose challenges, from compassion burnout to ethical dilemmas. To remain spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy while serving others with Christ-like love, those who enter any field focused on giving must be grounded in their Christian faith.
If you want to use your God-given gifts to help others, there are plenty of career options. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for helping professions is bright. Employment of healthcare occupations alone is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.
If you love serving others and want to take ownership of the helping skills God has given you, here are four professions to consider.
Perhaps more than any other profession, a career in nursing allows you to serve as the “hands and feet” of Jesus in a tangible way. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is described as the Great Physician: Matthew 20:28 reads, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Healthcare professionals are called to treat every patient— regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, or social class — with the same respect and care Jesus showed His patients. Nurses must present Christ to others through quality, compassionate care.
Yet, healthcare providers have higher stress levels and complaints than employees of any industry, including the professional, business service, and retail sectors, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. In total, 69% of healthcare workers reported feeling stressed, and 17% reported feeling highly stressed.
Integrating faith into medical care allows for compassion in today’s fast-paced medical environments. Throughout Scripture, God promises He will provide His children with a peace that surpasses all understanding. And because we are comforted by the Great Comforter, we are able to comfort others in crisis. Viewing patients as dearly loved by God allows caregivers to go beyond the basic requirements of their job description and extend not only excellent service but also kindness and hope to those in their care.
As a teacher, you’ll make a lasting impact on the hearts and lives of your students. In addition to instilling a love for education in your students, you will hopefully help them grow in character, wisdom, and integrity. Whether you teach in a Christian, public, or private school, education is one of the most rewarding and character-building careers available.
The U.S. is experiencing a teacher shortage, according to statistics. Amid this ongoing crisis, the development of highly trained, capable teachers is paramount to student success. Ethical, Christ-minded teachers can influence an entire culture by equipping their students to thrive in an academic setting — and in life.
But there’s no denying that teachers have a difficult job; in addition to teaching a curriculum, educators also must address the various needs that arise in their students and their students’ families. If God calls you to become a teacher, rely on Him for wisdom and strength as you strive to love your students and teach them with excellence. Spend time reading His Word, praying, and thinking about how to implement His truths into your classroom.
If you want to help others work through difficult situations and empower them to live healthy, fulfilled lives, a career in counseling may be right for you. Christians in this field must strive to bring clinical competency and spiritual commitment together, promoting the mental health and holistic wellness of clients.
Dr. Laurel Shaler, author of Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events, says, “If we’re going to treat whole people, we have to treat them holistically. That includes conducting a spiritual assessment and finding out what their belief system is...But beforehand, you pray so that the Holy Spirit will guide you in what to say and do, because your faith will still be integrated even if you never explicitly say a word about Jesus.”
Like nursing, counseling can be a challenging career. Mental health professionals help clients talk through difficult and often traumatic events and can consequently suffer from compassion fatigue. Surprisingly, researchers found in a 2012 study for Administration and Policy in Mental Health Journal that mental health professionals are overlooked when it comes to protecting staff from burnout.
Because Christians counselors will inevitably face challenges in their workplaces, the need for self-care strategies such as rest, exercise, nutrition, healthy relationships, and spiritual renewal are of the utmost importance.
Ccounseling uniquely allows you to make a positive difference in society by sitting with the broken. Therapists have the opportunity to offer hope, redemption, and holistic healing to those who are hurting.
On a surface level, criminal justice may not seem like a “helping profession” — but that’s exactly what it is. By protecting the community from harm, ensuring justice, and working towards the rehabilitation of criminals, you’ll make a tremendous difference in society. Whether you want to be a police officer, crime scene investigator, forensic accountant, or prison psychologist, the criminal justice field has plenty of opportunities to use your skills to glorify God.
Yet, those with criminal justice degrees are not limited to working directly for law enforcement agencies; graduates with a degree in criminal justice may enter the field of social work, law, or even forensic science.
Whether you enter nursing, counseling, teaching, criminal justice, or any other field, take ownership of the talents God has given you. Whatever your chosen profession, ask God to teach you and give you wisdom while using your skills to glorify Him. 1 Peter 4:10-11 reads, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”