So last week on Facebook this wandered across my feed:
Initially I posted it because I liked the thought - dig far enough back in my own feed and you will find that "calling" is something that I have struggled with. But the more I thought about it, the deeper and broader my thoughts became.
I came to question if there is such a thing as "calling" at all.
I have not totally abandoned the idea - after all, calling in the ministry is something I continue to recognize (with the caveat that fewer people are called than think they are) - but I am considering the concept that for most, calling is a mire created by modern social thinking.
You may, if you are of a certain age, remember a book called What Color Is My Parachute? This book - updated every year and as far as I know at least in existence for 25 years - uses an assessment of your skills and interests to suggest career fields that you really are made for. This book matches the zeitgeist of our age, that we are all truly unique individuals and therefore need unique life paths suited to our wants and desires (thus, in a passing mention, the explosion of college graduates with degrees that interest them but no work in their fields. I am one of those).
There may some value in considering what sort of work we might better be suited for - if I do not enjoy math, perhaps accounting is not a choice for me or if I lack attention to detail, engineering may not be the way to go. But I submit that the reality is that while these may be indications of certain fields we may do better in, they by no means constitute some sort of "calling" to enter that field.
Work is a great many things, but - as the original post points out - the real point of work is to make a living. To pay our bills. To be a responsible adult human being. Sometimes this may result in a taking and keeping a job that is not our "path" but pays the bills and gives us the most reward for our effort.
A personal example: Over the past 32 years I have (at one time or another) thought I was "called" to be a teacher, a performer, a writer, a real estate agent, a pastor. All of these - if I am truly honest with myself - were not completely disinterested choices: in some way or fashion, they were something I enjoyed doing and figured I was "called" to do.
The reality? My career during the last 20 years, Manufacturing and Quality in the Biopharmaceutical/Medical Device Industry, has paid all the bills. The time I invest in improving myself in it has direct and practical financial rewards, a far higher return on investment than any other single activity I have performed for income (by contrast, all 8 of the books I have written have returned me less than $50.00 all told). If I want to feel like I am "following my path", I write a book or dream big of market gardening or practice the harp harder. If I actually want to make more money, I learn about regulations and better ways to do Quality.
I have to be the first to admit that finally admitting this fact was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. Admitting the fact that this is what I probably do until I retire is even harder. There is no "calling" in this, no suiting of my personal skills or interests in this. At best, I adapt those skills and interests to the job, trying to find ways to use them. But that is a far different cry from feeling like they are manifesting themselves in my work every day.
I do not know that everyone is this way, but it seems to me that most of the people I have met and know are in the same position. Ask them the question - What did you major in during college? How did you end up in your current position? - and the answers you will quite often hear are a long winding road of searching for a job but taking the one that was offered.
Perhaps it makes the world a little dimmer - and I would never say that God does not call people (I think He does). But I think we have done a great disservice to all job seekers by telling them that only the job that matches their skills and interests is the fulfilling one, that all other jobs which do not meet that requirement are little better than forced labor.
It is time - and it would be a helpful thing - if those that make their living on finding people the "work they love" would change their thinking to admit that what we really need to start with is "work that pays". The love - perhaps like the arranged marriages of old time - is something that might come later but if it does not, we shall at least have made a living in the meantime.