In the modern world a man or woman with a career is a somebody. It is the same in modern churches. Some of the Pentecostals are up front about this – they will tell you 2007 can be the year of your spiritual victory and this will be proved NOT by being found worthy to suffer shame for Christ (Acts 5:41) but by being found worthy to be honoured by promotion.
In other churches career idolatry may be more subtle but is still there. Who really believes this saying:
You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. [Luke 16:15]
There is a fascinating article in the London Review of Books on the legacy of Hannah Arendt which is packed with interesting observations and points out how careerism inspired Adolf Eichmann and so many other energetic servants of evil. Whenever a career is seen as good in itself then the careerist becomes a danger to himself and other people. He ceases to walk with God and walks in the light of his own good image. He is pursuing promotion instead of virtue.
Please note, I am not saying that the mark of a faithful disciple is a failed career! Self-control and conscientiousness are a sign of spiritual fruit and a repentant believer may be a model employee. In some organisations these are highly prized qualities which are rewarded with higher status and pay. But the character is what matters and not the recognition.
May the good Lord save us from the career bureaucrats, the career politicians and, above all, the career Pastors.