Vocation, Vocation, Vocation?
- Thursday, April 16, 2009
I was recently posed the question, “Do you believe that God impresses upon all of His children a vocational direction or to just a few?”
I found the question to be both intriguing and quite timely in the midst of our current economic downturn. It is an issue I have wrestled with at periods in my own life.
I have known what I wanted to do vocationally since I was 11 years old. Everything I studied focused on a career in the construction industry, which I have been a part of for twenty years. However, more recently God has opened doors for me into areas I would have never dreamed of, considered or desired.
I learned through some recent surveys most people do not work in a profession for which they were originally trained, the median number of years salaried workers stay with their employer is four, and at least half of all workers are dissatisfied with their jobs.
What this says to me is many people have not found the vocation they want to work in nor know what God has created them to do. In any case, continually realigning ourselves with the Lord will help us to discern the path that is His will. But how do we do this?
Know What You Value
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. … (Philippians 3:8).
Our relationship with Christ should be first and foremost in our life. He is our moral and spiritual compass to which we (should) base all that we do. Without living out His foundational truths, everything would be immaterial (and only material).
From there, we need to ask ourselves what is most important in our life. Is it our family, financial security, our health, our home, a relationship, our iPhone?
Contrary to what we are often told and what we want to believe, our decisions will cost us something, ask Adam and Eve. It may be time, money, personal desires, material items, relationships, freedom, etc. Every choice we make has a price.
- If family is most important, a flexible schedule may cost you advancement and higher pay.
- If getting out of debt is most important, a second job may cost you time with family and rest.
- If your health is most important, eating better and exercising may cost you money, time, and sacrifice.
- If a relationship is most important, spending time together may cost you time with others and independence.
We ultimately spend our time on those things we value. What do you put your time and effort into and what do you want to put your time and effort into? What has God placed on your heart? Understanding what we value will lead us to where our heart is.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34).
Know How You View “Work”
You will sweat and work hard for your food (Genesis 3:19).
How we view “work” can determine whether we wake up each morning with the expectations of great things to come or approach it as a sentence for the rest of our lives.
Is work a job? Is the primary reason you get up each morning for the paycheck? Are you strictly motivated by the money you make (or can make)? Are you just trying to survive? If a better paying job came along, would you take it?
Is work a career? Are you on a corporate ladder, working to move into a higher position? Is your motivation the title, status or prospect of long-term employment? Are you in search of advancement?
Is work a calling? Do you genuinely put your heart and soul into the task itself? Are the results of your work just as, if not more, important than the financial or career advancement it provides? Is self-satisfaction what you seek from your job?
No view is right or wrong, nor is each view mutually exclusive of the others. Most of us desire some sort of compensation, recognition, and or purpose for what we do. However, the frustration and discontent we sometimes feel results from our own unrealized expectations.
When we are able to understand the role work plays in our lives, we can learn to accept it for what it is, and not try to make it into something it is not. Furthermore, if we approach our jobs as an opportunity to share Jesus (through our attitude and the excellence of our work), we will not only find satisfaction, but also excel.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23).
Know Who You Are
… to each according to each one’s unique ability (Matthew 25:15).
We have all been blessed with skills and abilities, yet many of us never live up to our potential. Instead, we dream and long for something other than what we were created to do. I am reminded of this every season of American Idol, watching those who think they can sing face the reality of those who know they cannot.
This is not to say with hard work, determination, and practice we can’t achieve our dreams. However there is a big difference between wanting to do something and having the abilities with which to do it.
Those who are most successful in their crafts seem to be those who have discovered their gifts, developed theirs skills and use them for purposes often outside of themselves. Their passion is their work.
Someone once said, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
King Solomon said it in another way:
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
What is your passion? What do you enjoy doing ... working with people or working alone, traveling or staying at home, finding creative solutions or doing repetitive operations, working indoors or out? God created in us a specific code for each of us to succeed. Until we discover what that is, we will never live up to the potential God has for us.
The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:7).
In construction, there are tools for every task imaginable, each one made for a precise purpose. Many times I don’t have the tool I need, and I try to improvise with the one I have. Undoubtedly, it takes me longer to do the job, it doesn’t turn out well, and oftentimes I injure myself in the process.
If I would have taken the time to find (and the money to purchase) the proper tool for the specific task, it would have made my job so much easier.
God created us in a similar way. By His grace, we are able to accomplish a variety of tasks; however there are specific jobs for which we are best suited.
By knowing what you value, how you view work, what your skills are and what you enjoy doing, you can better appreciate how God created you and for what purpose.
For some, it may mean working in “ministry,” while for others it may mean working in order to minister. We may see what we do as the mundane; however we may be overlooking the opportunities for which God brought us to that situation. In order for us to move on, we need to complete the task and fulfill the purposes for which we were placed there.
Do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do (Ephesians 5:17).
We have a specific design with a specific purpose for a specific amount of time. We were created to bring glory to God. It is not so important as to the vocation, rather it is how we are able to utilize what we were given to accomplish that for which we were created.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).
May your journey through life lead you to the vocation the Lord designed you for and may you always bring glory to Him.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.
**This article first published on April 16, 2009.
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