What vocation is it that we are called to do? To what specific tasks, or job, are we created for? The answer lies not merely in activity for activity’s sake, but in discovering how we are designed.
Here is a quotation from Dan Miller’s book “No More Dreaded Mondays” (pg. 32):
“Are you living a life too small? Is it so full of meaningless tasks that there’s no room left for the things that make your heart sing? Does more activity really equal greater accomplishment, or does it at some point tip the scale and begin to diminish the meaning of your life? Are you creating the legacy you want to leave for you loved ones?” (Billy added bold for emphasis)
Within the context of Dan’s book, he is speaking about finding work that is, as he puts it, is “meaningful, fulfilling and profitable.” Primarily, though, Dan desires for us to find that vocation to which God has called us. Dan defines “vocation” for us (pg. 33):
“The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means ‘to call.’ It suggests that you are listening for something that is calling out to you, something that is particular to you. A calling is something you have to listen for–a connection to something larger than yourself.”
Ask yourself this question: “What makes my heart sing?” The premise behind this thinking is that God has designed us and has wired us all in particular ways. God has made us all different, with different passions and skills, and that is on purpose. God can, and does indeed, “call” us to particular tasks, and one of the primary ways that God does this is by our passions, burdens, talents, and gifting. We can discover what makes our heart “sing” by answering a few questions:
- What are you passionate about?
- What are those tasks that you could do, and love doing, even if no one was paying you to do them?
- If you had all the time and all the money in the world, what are those tasks, or what is that job, that you would do?
- What tasks, or job, gives you energy and life as you do it?
- What are those specific subjects that you love talking about?
- What is it that occupies your thoughts and your dreams when you are doing nothing else, or maybe even when you are doing other tasks, like working?
- What motivates you?
- What is it that excites you so much that you can hardly sleep at times thinking about it?
- What do others say you are passionate about?
- Conversely, what are you NOT passionate about?
- What drains you of your energy?
- NOTE: ANY work will be tiring, but if you do not “come alive” as you do it & if you are “drained of life” when you do this particular work, then it’s not the work best suited for your gifts & passions.
- What are those tasks that you scarcely can lift a finger to do?
- Are there particular tasks or activities that you find very difficult to do that, possibly, other people do not find as difficult to do?
- What drains you of your energy?
- What burdens you about the world?
- What is it about the world that bothers you the most?
- What problems about the world do you wish you could solve or play a part in helping to solve?
- What is it about the world that, if you had enough money, would pay to change?
- What keeps you up at night, about the world, that you dream about changing?
- What are those situations or circumstances that “draw out” your compassion to such an extent that you, often, act upon that compassion?
- What are you naturally gifted to do or talented at doing?
- What tasks or skills come rather naturally to you?
- What do others say are “gifts” or talents that you have?
- Are there particular activities that, when you do them, others are especially encouraged and helped by them?
- What are those tasks and activities that you feel as though you are good at doing?
These questions do not cover everything about discovering “what makes your heart sing,” but they are a good start. The other category that Dan, and others, would add here to this list about discovering your vocation would be, “What is it that you can actually make money doing?” We know that life is more than just making money and we know that once we die we cannot take our possessions or our riches with us, but we must be able to provide for ourselves. The apostle Paul even says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially for the members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). We must provide financially for our families. However, we must keep in mind that anything that we love to do, but cannot make money doing it, is merely a hobby, and not a vocation. Generally though, Miller, and others I have been reading, hold to the basic premise that if you can find something you are passionate about, and if you can find something that adds value to others (they are blessed or helped by what you do), then you will be able to find some vocation that is not only fulfilling but can also be monetized as well. Remember, it is possible to find particular tasks that you are talented to do and are passionate about, yet you may not be able to find something that can be monetized. However, the most difficult part is discovering our particular “wiring” and discovering what makes our hearts sing, and I believe the questions above can guide us in that general direction.
While Miller’s book is not written for an explicitly Christian audience (yet he does write from a broadly Christian worldview), I would recommend one particular book that leans towards this idea of “calling is based upon gifting,” and that is Kevin DeYoung’s little book “Just Do Something,” which I have used for years with students and young adults. DeYoung will mention that we oftentimes get caught up in immobility while attempting to “seek out” our “perfect vocation” (which is a valid critique!), but he does have sections that will aid and supplement what I’ve mentioned above.
Here is Dan Miller’s book “No More Dreaded Mondays” that I’ve quoted above. It has been helpful to me, and I recommend it to you:
WHAT DO YOU THINK? (I’d love to hear your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below)
- After pondering on the questions mentioned above, answer this question: What type of vocation do you believe best “fits” with how God has made you and wired you?
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