Years ago, I read the book "48 Days To The Work You Love" by Dan Miller. I was reading it to help a friend through a sticky situation. Little did I know I'd walk away from the book with a big lesson learned for myself.
In the 3rd chapter of the book, Dan is discussing creating a life plan. In one of the subsections of that chapter, he asks the question, "Is your job your calling?" What an interesting concept. Could they be different?
Most of us use the words, job, career and calling interchangeably. It might be for simplicity, or we might actually mean they are one and the same. Dan does a good job of unpacking each of these, and explaining how they are so different.
Vocation is the most profound of the three, incorporating calling, purpose, mission, and destiny. This is the big picture many people never identify for themselves. It's what you're doing in life that makes a difference and builds meaning for you, which you can review in your later years to see the impact you've made on the world.
We get the term vocation from the Latin word, vocare, which means "to call." The very word suggests that you are listening for something or someone that is calling out to you. It's more like listening for a voice than pursuing a goal.
Everyone has a calling. Everyone. Down to the plants and animals, everyone has a calling. Vocations flow from the heart of a person who has tapped into the God's wisdom.
Webster defines career as "to run or move at full speed, rush wildly." In other words, you might run really hard at something for a long period of time, and never get anywhere.
A career is a line of work but not the only way to fulfill your calling. You can have different careers at different points in your life. Conversely, two or three different careers can all support your calling.
He gives the example that if you embraced the calling to reduce pain and suffering in the world you could choose many different careers: physician, nurse, counselor, pastor, teacher, scientist, politician, etc. Meaning, if you wanted to change careers at some point in your life, take a look at your "calling" and find a new application.
Job is the most specific and immediate of the three terms. The dictionary defines it as "a lump portion, a task, chore or duty." The job should be an expression of that calling and an integration of your ministry.
Jobs will come and go, but they should never derail you from the fulfillment of your calling.
Before you go jumping into any old job, let's consider a few different things:
1. Your skills and abilities
2. Your personal tendencies
3. Your values, dreams and passions.
Understanding these three elements is the first step in identifying the right job for you.
So today, you might sitting somewhere as an unemployed person. Rest assured, that doesn't mean you are "uncalled" as well. God has created us each perfectly, and wired us all differently.
Let's make sure we seek Him to understand what that is first before we spend the rest of our lives flailing around trying to figure it out.
Do you have any idea what your calling is?
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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