A Question about Vocation
May 20, 2023, 7:00 AM

Question: Hello, Recently, I’ve been pondering: what does God think about the machines of men? By this I mean helicopters, trucks, trains, boats etc. For some context on why this is important to me: I’ve been thinking of joining the Air Force to pursue a career in aviation, as I’ve had an interest in it since I was a child. Yet, my conscience will not allow it, not because it’s sin or worthless (I’d be pursuing rescue aviation), but because I believe I can’t glorify God by thanking Him for flight. My conscience believes that since flight is a dream of man, it’s subsequently the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Despite this, every resource I can find on choosing your vocation all say to pursue a lawful God-given interest that you are genuinely good at, which in my case is aviation. I am stuck in vicious doubt, and conscience insists I become a pastor, although it demands becoming a cashier when I say no to the former.

Answer: Brother, thank you for your question. I want to be conscious of your concerns while at the same time help you along the way. I believe your conscience may be over-sensitive. I say this very cautiously because I do not want to violate another man's conscience and the Bible says whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Let me begin by saying that conscience, like everything else in the makeup of man, has been affected by man's fall into sin. Our conscience is essentially a moral alarm system. It warns us when we go against something our mind believes to be immoral. As such, our conscience is only as good as the moral system that informs it. IF that moral system is worldly and not biblical, then our conscience will be worldly. That's why Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:1-2 to have our minds renewed by the word of God. We're warned in the Bible against violating conscience and we're warned about letting our consciences become seared (insensitive). However, there is also such a thing as an over-sensitive conscience. Examples of this are found in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10 and the discussion on Christian liberty and the stronger and weaker brother. The weaker brother is one whose conscience is over-sensitive and prohibits him from doing things which are biblically permissible. The stronger brother is not to hold the weaker brother in contempt and the weaker brother is not to pass judgment on the stronger brother. 

Now when it comes to your issues of conscience, you seem to be laboring under the impression that the machines of men are somehow inherently evil. In particular the flying machines of men, which express a desire for flight (which in your mind is sinful). To be sure, we need to beware of the desires of fallen men. Naturally speaking, we are corrupt to the core. But there is something called Common Grace, which is expressed in God's good will toward all mankind. This is seen in the general blessings of rain and seasons and natural law and laws of nature, etc. It's also seen in God restraining the depravity of man so that he is not as depraved as he can possibly be. Through common grace, mankind is able to make wonderful advances in technology and innovation. Can and have these advancements been used for evil? Absolutely! But they have also been used for good and the advancement of human life. The sin is not in the technological advance, but in man's failure to give God the glory and to abuse technology for violence and evil. Consider, for a moment, the advances made during the period of the Renaissance. Many of those scientists were either Christians or God-fearing men who expressed glory to God as they explored His good creation. It's certainly a far cry from today in which most scientists are atheistic and give no glory to God.

All the same can be said of airplanes and helicopters. Man's achievement of flight was inspired by the ability for flight found in birds. By studying the aerodynamics of birds, men were able to develop technological flight. All of this can, and should be, a reason to glory in God. First, for the creation of flight found in birds and other winged creatures. Second, in man's ingenuity to duplicate that ability through technological advancement, all of which puts God's glory on display as His image-bearers use their God-given talents to innovate. The failure of man to give glory to God does not tarnish the technological advancement. The sin is our failure to give God thanks and glory.

All this to say, there is much we can thank God for in our technological advances without having to glorify the ambitions of the men who made those advances. We can thank God for flight, for poetry, for art, for technology, for science, etc. At the same time, I would say there is nothing sinful or unbiblical in pursuing a career in aviation. This would be so whether or not you pursue a career in aviation rescue or as a flight mechanic for American Airlines. You glorify God in your job by doing the best possible job you can do and give Him the thanks. 

Switching gears to your desire to be a pastor. As odd as this may sound, I would also caution against being a pastor. Not that being a pastor isn't a noble, worthwhile profession, nor that there isn't a need for pastors in God's field. But the Bible cautions against "becoming teachers" because a teacher (pastor, elder) is judged with greater strictness (James 3:1). I've heard it said by pastors I've known, if you can imagine yourself doing anything else than being a pastor, DO IT! Again, it sounds odd saying this, but there is a great weight of responsibility in becoming a pastor. If the Lord has called you to the ministry, then that settles it; there is nothing that can stop that call. But that feeling we feel inside ourselves also needs to be confirmed outside of ourselves. In my circles, we call it the internal and the external call to ministry. You may feel called to ministry, but if no one else confirms that call, then are you really called? Similarly, many in the church may say you should become a pastor, but if you don't feel called yourself, are you really called? If you feel called to the ministry and others have confirmed this call in you, then go for it. If this is a calling from the Lord, He will open the doors for you. If you do not feel called to ministry, do not see your only other option to be a cashier. Pursue that desire for aviation. You can glorify God in any vocation that does not involve sin (as dictated by the Bible, not conscience).

I truly hope this helps.

~ Pastor Carl

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