Crafting your Career Blueprint: Strategy vs. Planning (Part I)


By Greg Silverthorne

Your Next Triumph SERIES

Doing ‘all things through Christ’ surely includes having a fruitful, triumphant Career.   Is this easy for most?    No.    While God’s hand is unchanging, the same can’t be said about the U.S. workplace.    Navigating the American workplace requires, among other things, a strategically-robust road map I strongly feel.    Abiding Christians, who approach their career like skilled Chess Players, are best positioned to reap the harvest of their experience, contacts, and education.   Too many Christian career professionals have a one-dimensional, unsavvy Career Blueprint – or none at all.   Consequently, they miss many Grand Victories and suffer too many undeserved Defeats.

  • What good does it do to climb a ladder that’s leaning on the Wrong Wall?

Your Ladder, Your Career

In the five years since I launched a career education ministry at my church in the Greensboro NC metro area, I’ve come to believe a Ladder is one of the best ways to see where a Christian is in their career.   Some people put their career on auto-pilot and discover one day that their career is off track.   Why?    In short, they’ve changed, the field they work in has changed, and/or the workplace has changed.    Even if the first two of these haven’t much for a person, clearly the last (the workplace) is constantly changing.   In this post I will describe what your Career Ladder has to do with your having a successful worklife.

  • Consider this: A man has quickly climbed a Ladder, gets to the top, and belatedly discovers it was on the Wrong Wall.   However fast this man made it to the top, what has he accomplished?    Not a whole lot.
  • Energies exerted pursuing a misguided career objective (or stuck in the wrong job) is like climbing a ladder on the wrong wall.   Many career pros can ‘climb a ladder’ well, but are ineffectual.  Why?   Because their energies weren’t well focused.   Does this describe you at certain points in your career?
  • When you have a sound career strategy, you ‘think before you climb’.

Four Career Ladder Scenarios

1. At times, after crafting a well-strategized Career Blueprint, you’ll need to Move the Ladder to a different spot on the same wall (Right Wall, Wrong Spot).
2. At times, however, you’ll need to find a different wall to lean the ladder before climbing (Wrong Wall).
3. At times, ironically, what you are seeking is reachable without any ladder climbing (No Ladder Needed).   Nonetheless, you need to know to ‘reach and not climb’; I’ll describe this in the Part II post.
4. At times, your career ladder is exactly where it needs to be!  (Ideal)   Thank God!  Be it by sound strategy, serendipity, or divine intervention you’re currently in the ideal situation.

  • Scripture tells us that ‘the fervent, effectual prayers of a righteous man availeth much’.   The fervent, effectual actions of a Christian worker, one with a strategically-sound Career Blueprint, availeth much too!   To be such a worker, you need to know a few things, namely:

A) If you even need a Ladder (Why climb when what you really need can already be reached?)
B) Where to place the Ladder (Finding the right spot on the right wall)
C) When to climb the Ladder (Timing in some situations can make or break you!)
D) How to climb (Planning and the implementation of Blueprint action items)

Only after you’ve address the first three issues above, should you put on your Planner’s Hat.   Not before.   Career strategy lies in how much time you spend fully addressing the three Ladder issues above.   That strategy involves, among other things, knowing yourself well (e.g. your strengths and aspirations) and having a keen understanding of the job marketplace.   Ignorance about who you are or what the market currently demands isn’t a strategy for success!

  • After you have a well-considered Career Blueprint, major career moves can be wisely made.   At least twice a year that road map should be reviewed and, if necessary, be revised.   Please don’t let your Career Blueprint become stale.   Like a dusty Bible, a wonderfully-written career plan which is never used isn’t of much use.

Again, what good does it do to climb a ladder that’s leaning on the Wrong Wall?   By now I think the answer to this question should be self evident.    A career plan that reflects a sound strategy avoids you ever ‘climbing a misplaced ladder’ in your career.

In Part II of this post (in a few days) I’ll offer Solutions for each of the four (4) distinct Career Ladder Scenarios covered above.

(to be continued)

Photo credit: Hope Abrams/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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