Having a calling is a special thing. For some reason the western lifestyle pushes us to ignore a calling and trade it in to be comfortable. We go from big dreams in our youth to focusing on retirement in our adult life.
As kids we think questions like: * What can I do to change the world? * Where can I go to make an impact? * What profession do I feel like I was made for?
As adults we begin to ask questions like: * Do I make enough money to be comfortable? * Do I enjoy going to work every day? * Do I have a place to live with enough space? * How soon can I retire?
In college I thought a calling was the place my talents collided with a professional work life. I’m not sure I would describe it the same 14 years into my profession. I’m starting to think a calling is the place I don’t have what it takes combined with an opportunity way harder than I imagined. In this place I find myself more dependent on external solutions than internal ones. Maybe this is what makes a calling beautiful? A calling causes me to focus more on others than myself.
This brings us to the question, “How do you focus on a calling over a long period of time?” Or, “How do I keep myself becoming focused on just my life?” I read this book called Flashbang by Mark Steele where Mark describes how his life was turning into a flashbang - something that makes a lot of noise but leaves no permanent indentation. Which is exactly how our calling can become as well. So what can you do to protect your calling?
Practice Solitude - The times that I have surrendered my calling for self preservation have been the seasons I avoided practicing solitude. A daily devotional was absolutely void from my daily routine. Typically, there was some sort of crises I was trying to solve because of external pressure. There wasn’t time to stop, read my bible, reflect, pray, etc… THINGS HAD TO GET DONE. Things that I can’t remember anymore, things that didn’t change anything.
Choose your crowd wisely - When a calling is in crisis don’t give your time and attention to people who are seeking a life focused on themselves, people living without a calling. Are you supposed to live in isolation then? Maybe. I think of these people as “more” people or “next” people. Everything in their life is either focused on more of something or the next phase in life. If they can just get to “this” place then life will be perfect. Investing relationally with “more” or “next” people when you’re trying to hold to a calling is like giving your calling cancer. And like cancer, an aggressive removal of these relationships will give life back to your soul.
Diagnose the right things - One specific time I fought every wrong battle to keep my calling. The war was a financial one, I simply couldn’t afford to continue the calling. There was a devastating revenue issue…or so I thought. Through this challenge I learned a completely new attitude towards finances with less focus on revenue and a very clear strategy on expenses. And this is what happens to us in times of a calling crises, we can focus on the threat instead of focusing on what we can actually control, which is ourselves. As much as it pains me to say this self discipline is often the best solution to a calling crises. (As an extrovert who loves to go with the wind, typing that is like sticking needles in my arms)
Which life do you really want to live though? Sure, there is always the sport of collecting stuff and being comfortable. But on the other side is a life filled with moments that testify to another type of life, a life filled with moments of purpose. This is the power of a calling: The thought you get to have is, “I was made to be here, right at this time, to do this.”
What have you done to protect your calling? Or what have you seen others do that you admire about how they have protected their calling? Please leave a comment below and help others!