|The Blessing of a Calling
October 25th, 2005
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your mightÖ (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
On a school field trip this week, Josh told me that he has decided what he wants to be when he grows up. I hope I didnít discourage him; my response was that he was going to be a pretty busy guy. He told me he wants to be a preacher. And an optometrist. And a veterinarian.
He has it all figured out, though. He says heíll preach on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Monday through Friday heíll practice optometry. And then on Saturdays heíll see his veterinary patients. Oh, and their owners will be able to call him during the week if their pets have medical emergencies.
Iím thinking that heís going to need to get some scholarships to pay for all the schooling that will be necessary for his career choices.
Josh has three careers in mind for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that his parents have followed two of those paths. He may change his mind many times between now and adulthood. I suppose I donít much care what he finally decides to do, as long as he feels a sense of calling to whatever career (or careers) he winds up choosing.
Calling. I guess if that word means anything at all to us, we think of it in terms of clergy. Sometimes we talk about a ďcallĒ to ministry. In many traditions churches ďcallĒ a person to be their pastor or minister or priest. When we use the word ďcalling,Ē we usually think in terms of religious vocation. We mean that God has laid hold of a personís life and beckoned him or her into a life specially given to serving him. Preachers have a calling. Optometrists donít. Veterinarians donít.
Well, I wish to protest.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote that ďwhatever your hand finds to do [you should] do it with all your might.Ē The context of that isnít overwhelmingly positive, but he means that whatever we may not be able to know and understand about life, we know what weíve been given to do. Itís there in front of us every day. And so if you want to find meaning in your life, you donít start by trying to crack the mysteries of the universe. You donít begin by trying to discover the secret things of God. To find meaning in your life, start with whatís in front of you. Do whatever it is that God has given you to do with all your heart while youíre above ground. Time will run out on your life one day, after all, and then itíll be too late.
Paul means something along the same lines in Colossians 3:17, when he all but quotes Ecclesiastes directly: ďwhatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Ē Both writers seemed to believe that whatever it is that you do is not to be regarded as just a way to pass the time or pay the bills or gain wealth and status or mark the days until retirement. What you do is a calling: God has given that to you to do, and it is your responsibility to do that with all your heart and in his name Ė ďas working for the Lord.Ē (Colossians 3:23)
It struck me as I thought about Joshís ambitious career choices that our culture sees leisure as evidence of Godís blessing. Youíre blessed, so the world tells us, if you donít have to do anything and can fill your days with pleasure, entertainment, and relaxation. All well and good, but thatís not the way of God. In Godís economy, the evidence that we are blessed is no more difficult to find than the work to which we are called, the responsibilities with which we are entrusted, and the people who depend on us to do that work well. It is a blessing to be given a calling, and whatever your calling might be it is every bit as sacred and holy and spiritual as mine.
I bet I know what some of you are thinking. ďThatís easy for you to say. You work at a job that a lot of people consider important. Youíre surrounded a lot of the time by people who love the Lord and want to please him. Youíre helping people deal with the things of God. But my jobís not like that. Itís pretty mundane. Often uninspiring. Sometimes I doubt that it would make any difference at all if I simply stopped doing what I do.Ē
Or maybe youíre feeling overstressed and underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. The work you do feels less like a calling and more like a prison sentence. Or maybe you happen to work at a job that doesnít pay particularly well, or is not well-respected by the world. When you go to parties you hope no one will ask what you do. Or maybe youíre unemployed at the moment, or unemployable. Maybe youíve chosen to forego the validation of a career for a life of doing laundry, cleaning a house, and chauffeuring kids around.
If youíre feeling like that, then it is especially important that you understand that God has called you to the work you do. You might not understand why, but it is important that you feel a sense of calling to whatever it is that your hand finds to do each day. Donít imagine that you are where you are by accident. Donít imagine that your work doesnít matter. David was a shepherd before he was a king. Moses was too, and it was there that he heard Godís call to lead his people to freedom. Rahab was a prostitute, for goodnessí sake (though I donít recommend that line of work). Paul was a leatherworker. Amos pruned trees. And Jesus Ė Jesus was an unemployed carpenter!
You might not see why God has called you to do what you do, but do it with all your heart anyway. On the days when you canít seem to get motivated, remember that your Boss is the Lord, and not the person to whom you report. I think youíll find the same thing that all those people from the biblical stories found: that when youíre faithful in whatever God is calling you to do right now, he will call you to other things.
When Brother Lawrence first joined the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris, he was in his fifties. A former soldier, he was placed in charge of the kitchen. For four years he regarded this as penance and did his work grudgingly. Finally, however, he came to understand that he could worship God and seek his presence ďas I clean my little pots.Ē Religious leaders came from all over the world to learn from him the secret of living in Godís presence. But all Lawrence did was to take seriously that his work was a calling from God.
So is yours. So do it with all your heart.
Click here to have FaithWeb e-mailed to you.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Todayís New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.
Site-specific content Copyright (c) 2000 FaithSite.com or Used by Permission|
All other content Copyright (c) 2000 FaithSites, Inc. All rights reserved.
If you are offended by anything on this page, click here.