Dear 100 Hour Board,
I know that the Church gives little guidance on what jobs to have, but which jobs do y'all think are the most in line with the gospel? I've thought that some might be FBI (their core values, justice, service), medical professions (healing, helping people), diplomacy (seeking peaceful solutions, bridging differences), psychology (healing minds, service), etc. What are some more and any thoughts on my list?
As I see it, science and religion are both looking for and applying truth, so I would definitely add any of the sciences to your list.
As far as which job is most in line with the gospel?
See the answers below.
I really don't like this question, but I think it's more about frustration with myself than you, so I'm going to address this answer accordingly. (Disclaimer: Because this is written mostly to me, it might not make a lot of sense to others. But I'd rather do that than get mad at someone I don't know for my own shortcomings.)
Dear Auto from a while ago,
I know you chose sociology because you're "able to understand truth from it," but that doesn't mean it's the only truth, or even the best truth (because I'm pretty sure that's not a thing). And yes, there's that one scripture that gives you some cool backing for studying socialites, but there are lots of other scriptures that back other forms of knowledge (like D&C 88:79). You're going to learn soon that truth does not exist in a box. You'll also learn that when little direction is given, it might mean that all options are good.
But first, let's review what you already know. Remember that answer where you got to talk about Geology 101 working for part of temple prep? That's a great place to start. You first talk about being a bit prideful in your major, which is maybe because you don't feel like other people appreciate it. And maybe this makes you nervous; like, what if they're right? I can't remember exactly what you're feeling, but eventually you'll start to better understand what your course of study is and that will be great. Until then, being frantic about defending it won't do much good, so I'm glad you've started to move on from that.
Next you talk about science vs religion, a war that perhaps isn't a war at all. Let's use that as a step to look at a pairing of actual opposites: light and dark, good and evil, "the church of the Lamb... or the church of the devil." I think this goes back to Whys. You've been obsessed with this ever since you heard that TED talk that states over and over, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it." This is a real thing, and you should keep studying it. And I think God works the same way; He care much less about what you're doing compared to who you're becoming. He let His son, a true King, be born in a barn and work as a lowly carpenter. Clearly He's okay with humble work. He's okay with repetitive work, as you'll see in the scriptures and in the temple; He's more than okay with the meek, so if a career keeps you there it probably isn't too bad.
There was a Relief Society lesson freshman year where the teacher, who had just gotten her mission call, read "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go," and then cried, "It doesn't matter if you go on a mission." Remember that? Maybe that goes beyond missions. Maybe that deals with careers and classes and everything in life. Maybe you won't get to stand on a doctorate degree or live outside of Utah as much as you want, but that doesn't matter as much as seeking Christ in all the things you do, no matter where you are.
Along those lines, you'll see it's entirely possibly to have an ideal career in terms of core values or overall mission, but still be a wrecker. God's good influence doesn't stop existing in any realm, except when we shut him out. So don't limit your potential for good to a position, and don't think a good position is immune to wrongdoing or perniciousness.
Finally, there will be that time when you're on a date and you ask him what his biggest goal in life is, and it's going to be really hard to not be able to match the desire to be a good spouse and parent. Really hard. But a few things:
- You're going through a lot right now that is opening your eyes to the huge influence parents have over their children, particularly the potential for negative influence. It's okay to be nervous about that.
- You still have the desire, because your seeming lack of commitment to it bothers you. Which is to say that deep down you're trying to get there. Remember to be patient, because it will come.
- When you answer and talk about doing other things—teaching, serving, developing, designing, creating—know that you can do all that in your family. I know right now it feels like it will tie you down, but I think that may be one of those bonds that set us free and make us more than we could be without it.
Following is a list of majors offered at BYU (slightly edited for clarity--for example, I lumped all teaching majors under "education," and all foreign languages under "foreign languages"), and how they're in line with the gospel. Majors often translate to jobs, and I firmly believe that every job can be perfectly in line with the gospel, as long as it's not something like running an organized crime syndicate or being an assassin.
Also, remember that literally an job can be used to serve others, and service is very much in line with the gospel, so I think it's less about the job itself and more about what we choose to do with it that makes them in line with the gospel.
Plus any and all intelligence is of God, so anybody who does something that helps them gain intelligence brings them closer to God, something that seems very in line with gospel principles.
Plus if people are doing things that make them happy, that's part of the Gospel plan, too--we are that we might have joy, after all.
But, without further ado, my list:
- Accounting: Helping people/businesses keep their finances honest and above-board.
- Acting: Providing wholesome entertainment, which, according to "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," we should be seeking.
- Actuarial science: Making sense of something that seems chaotic--bringing order and sense to a tumultuous world.
- American studies: If we believe 1 Nephi 13, God cares deeply about the finding, founding, and fate of America, so shouldn't we?
- Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible): Okay, this one is literally about studying the Bible and understanding it better.
- Animation: Satan cares a lot about the media we consume, and uses it to help distract and deviate people from the gospel path. Therefore, having more people who want to create media that can be wholesome and uplifting is so important.
- Anthropology: Learning more about all of God's children, developing greater empathy and love for them.
- Art: Creating beauty. And if there's one thing I get from looking at the world, it's that God values beauty.
- Art history and curatorial studies: Preserving beauty. What good are the works of beauty that others make if nobody has access to them?
- Asian studies: Okay, we just established that God cares a lot about America. But we also know He's no respecter of persons and loves all his children equally. Thus, if we want to become like God it follows that we need to love everyone equally. And how can you love someone if you don't understand their culture?
- Athletic training: Helping people reach their full potential. Helping people take care of their bodies. And, y'know, our bodies are what separate us from Satan, and according to the Word of Wisdom God cares about us taking care of them.
- Biochemistry: Understanding better how living organisms work, giving us greater appreciation for God's work and preparing us to create worlds of our own one day.
- Biodiversity and conservation: Helping to preserve the world that God made.
- Bioinformatics: This one has huge implications for research that can help lead to important medicines, as well as allowing us to understand more about the human race.
- Biology: Learning about God's creations and understanding better how they work, preparing us to one day be gods.
- Biophysics: Directly applying laws that govern creation to the living world helps us see the hand of God.
- Chemical engineering: From what I understand about chemical engineering, it has very real, very pertinent, applications for helping the entire human race (medicine and oil are two things that I can think of that chemical engineering has a direct hand in, and both of those help us a lot).
- Chemistry: Giving people the knowledge necessary to create incredibly useful things like new medicines or drugs.
- Civil engineering: Creating public spaces that make people's lives easier, creating an environment in which people can feel the Spirit.
- Classical studies: Helping us understand our own culture, which is the context in which we live the gospel.
- Communication disorders: Helping people be heard, helping people change their lives.
- Communications: We live in a social world. Without the ability to communicate effectively (on a personal level, but also on a more widespread, corporate level), society would fall apart.
- Comparative literature: Understanding the world and human nature better through the use of literature.
- Computer engineering: Creating computers that can benefit the entire world.
- Computer science: Using technology to help others, creating things that allow pretty much every other field to function, helping the Church advance its technological goals.
- Construction and facilities management: Organizing important projects that need to be done for the good of society.
- Dance: Creating beauty, providing a creative and therapeutic outlet.
- Design: Creating beauty, helping us make the most of what we have.
- Dietetics: Taking care of our bodies.
- Economics: Helping people allocate resources. Very few other jobs would be of any good to us as a society if we didn't have economics because we wouldn't be able to efficiently access them.
- Education: Helping mold the younger generation, providing role models/cheerleaders for people who may be struggling, disseminating intelligence (which is the glory of God [D&C 93:36]).
- Electrical engineering: Using technology to help others, creating things that have immediate benefits for others.
- English: Communicating more effectively with others.
- Environmental science: Taking care of God's creations.
- European studies: Understanding God's children and their cultures better.
- Exercise and wellness: Taking care of our God-given bodies, helping us reach our full physical potential.
- Exercise science: Again, helping people take care of their bodies, as well as understanding how they work, thus allowing us to get closer to God.
- Family history: This one seems obvious, given the emphasis the Church places on family history.
- Family life: Families are central to God's plan. Isn't this one obvious, too?
- Finance: Learning management skills that prepare us to become like God, learning to budget and be self-reliant in order to be in a better position to help others.
- Food science: Using food in creative new ways so that more people have access to proper nutrition.
- Foreign languages: Developing a greater ability to communicate with and understand God's children, learning how to cross cultural barriers, preparing for a mission.
- French studies: Understanding more of God's children through better understanding their culture.
- Genetics, Genomics & Biotechnology: Helping others with medical problems in a myriad of ways.
- Geography: Gaining a greater appreciation for the earth and its peoples, learning how to connect better with others because you understand their culture better.
- Geology: Understanding how the earth works, which better prepares us to be gods one day.
- German studies: Getting to know God's children and their cultures better.
- Graphic design: Creating beauty, using it to promote good things.
- History: Understanding where we come from so we know better how to move forward and improve in our quest to become gods. And as we learn from Helaman 5, remembering is one of the most important things we can do in the gospel.
- Illustration: Expressing creative feelings (and creating is one of the defining hallmarks of God).
- Industrial design: Creating useful products that improve people's standard of living.
- Information systems: Disseminating information to help other people and make their jobs easier.
- Information technology: Assisting people who need help, improving the way things are done.
- Interdisciplinary humanities: Becoming well-rounded in a variety of subjects, thus preparing oneself to become more like God. Understanding people better so that you're more able to help them.
- International relations: Helping smooth relationships between countries, doing things that will help lead to peace and prosperity across the globe.
- Italian studies: Understanding a different culture better so we can better understand ourselves and other children of God.
- Landscape management: Helping public spaces look beautiful, utilizing resources well (thus teaching resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have).
- Latin American studies: Understanding more of God's children and their cultures, which is in and of itself a worthy pursuit.
- Law (grad program): Pursuing justice, upholding public values, helping people achieve their legal goals.
- Linguistics: Understanding languages to better understand scriptures, and also to better understand other children of God.
- Management: Developing leadership skills (essential for gods-in-training), learning how to help and motivate others.
- Manufacturing engineering technology: Creating products that others need, learning cooperation across a variety of disciplines (which helps people learn to cooperate in real life, something that we desperately need in order to have peace and harmony in the world).
- Mathematics: Giving us the building blocks of creation, developing clarity of thinking and establishing truth, learning the language of the building blocks of the universe.
- Mechanical engineering: Creating products to fill important needs. Helping people develop the skill of seeing a need and filling it. Developing a sense of independently developed work.
- Media arts studies: Developing analytical skills, working to create beauty.
- Medical laboratory science: Researching to help improve and develop new medicines for the benefit of mankind.
- Microbiology: Learning about God's creations and how they work, gaining a greater appreciation for the world around us.
- Molecular biology: Understanding the building blocks of creation to help prepare us to be gods.
- Music: Creating beauty, learning to understand and appreciate the genius of others, being able to greater appreciate our God-given senses.
- Music dance theater: Bringing happiness to others, developing talents, providing wholesome entertainment.
- Neuroscience: Advancing our understanding of the human brain--this leads to greater understanding of ourselves, helping us understand better who we are and how we work, greater understanding of others, and also the ability to help heal brains.
- Nursing: Taking care of sick people, helping heal others.
- Nutritional science: Helping us take care of our bodies.
- Philosophy: Increasing our humility, curiosity, and awe, as well as allowing us to learn more about ways to approach God/ethics/life. This allows us to cling to the good in our Church, while celebrating truth and goodness wherever else we find it.
- Photography: Helping people document important moments in their lives, capturing beautiful moments in God's creations, developing a sense of creativity and an appreciation for beauty in all its forms.
- Physics: Searching for truth (God is all about truth), helping us understand the laws governing all of creation.
- Physiology and developmental biology: Understanding how our bodies function, giving us greater appreciation for God's work and also allowing us to develop better remedies and cures for specific maladies.
- Political science: Understanding the government better so we can be better citizens.
- Portuguese studies: Understanding God's children and their cultures better.
- Psychology: Healing people's brains, helping them find peace.
- Public health: Helping take care of the public, healing.
- Recreation management: Providing wholesome recreational activities, helping bring people together and bond over recreational activities.
- Sociology: Understanding what makes people and cultures tick so that we can be more empathetic and loving of others and where they come from.
- Spanish studies: Understanding God's children and their cultures better.
- Statistics: Interpreting seemingly chaotic numbers to help make sense of the world in a new way.
- Theatre arts studies: Learning to appreciate the talents of others and find and appreciate beauty wherever it may be.
- Wildlife and wildlands conservation: Um, hello, preserving God's creations.
While there are jobs at different levels spiritually when looking at extremes (for example, running a porn magazine is just never going to be good), I agree with Auto and Alta that for the most part, every job can bring equal opportunities to draw closer to God.
One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The main reason why I love it so much is because it teaches that fundamental truth can be discerned from anything; the flight of birds, the sound of the wind, selling china, herding sheep, and even a smile. Personally, I believe that each of God's creations can serve as a channel back to that Creator. Thus either studying or interacting with the creations of God (in ways God intended) is in alignment with the gospel.
If examined closely, I think you'll find that most every job matches this criteria.
I'd now like to make a slightly tangential point to all of this. I sincerely believe that when looked at objectively/collectively there isn't any one job that would qualify as more "spiritual" than others. However, I also think that this doesn't necessarily hold true from an individual's perspective. To elaborate, I think that one person might naturally have a deeper connection with one subject over another. Perhaps someone who is a doctor, and derives joy from helping other people physically would have a harder time coming to know God through studying the marvels of the universe through physics. And vice versa, the physicist might not be able to see God in an operating room.
In closing, I think that how spiritual any job is ultimately depends on the person who holds it, and how hard they try to connect with God.
Unless you're making the world a worse place, you're probably fine.
One of my favorite quotes is from Howard Thurman: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
I think that our personal gifts and talents, which are given to us by God, play a huge factor in determining how we can best build up His kingdom.