Debunking 3 Myths About Calling

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09/02/2023

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09/02/2023

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Finding your calling can be a complex and confusing journey, and there are many myths that might derail you from discovering who and where God is truly calling you to be and do. The thing is, many of these misconceptions are so ingrained in us that we may not realize it! In this blog post, we’re going to bust three common myths about calling that might be holding you back from discovering your true purpose. By debunking these myths, we hope to provide a clearer understanding of what a calling really means and how to find it.

Myth #1. Your calling = your ideal job or career

The Myth:

Many people believe that our calling is their ideal job or career, and that it is the perfect match between our skills, interests, and passions. (Yes, I may have inadvertently given the wrong impression by suggesting the 4 A’s framework. But that was in the context of our secondary calling. More on that later).

The Reality:

While a fulfilling career can certainly be a part of our calling, it is not the only aspect. A calling is much more than just a job or career, and it encompasses all aspects of life, not just work.

As Christians, our primary calling is to God, not to a particular job or career. God calls us first to Himself, to know Him and experience a personal relationship with Him. He also made each of us with a unique design that we bring into the world. Our secondary calling (or callings) is the particular role that we are called to fulfill at a particular time and place.

Why It Matters:

When we make our secondary calling (that job or career we have in mind) our primary calling, we risk making it our idol. An idol is any object of worship that takes the place of God. By viewing our job or career as our main calling, we are attempting to derive our sense of significance and fulfillment from it that only God can provide.

This myth may even lead us to worship the gods of careerism, and its close cousin, workaholism. Careerism is when you are so devoted to making your career a success that you neglect other aspects of your life (such as your personal life, ethics etc.). Workaholism is “the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly”. (coined in 1971 by minister and psychologist Wayne Oates). And by the way, workaholism is one of the key contributors to burnout.

confused businessman checking time on wristwatch
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that your calling has to be your dream job or ideal career, but this is simply not true. Your secondary calling(s) is to be and do whatever God intends you to in the here and now. The job you now hold, the course of study you are pursuing, the family you are building, the church you are serving… this is your current place of calling.

“We ask, at this time and in this place, who and what are we called to be and do?”

Paul Stevens, Your Calling Here and Now: Making Sense of Vocation

If God wants to bring you to a new place of calling, He will make it clear to you. (That’ll be a topic for another day.)

So, if you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated because you haven’t found your dream job or ideal career, remember that your calling is much more than just a job or career. Keep your eyes open to what God is calling you to be and do where you are right now.

Myth #2. Your calling = what you are most passionate about

The Myth:

Have you received career advice like, “Follow Your Passion”? Many people believe that our calling is what we are most passionate about, that it is the thing that we are naturally gifted at and that brings us the most joy.

man using brown and black electric guitar while singing
Photo by Thibault Trillet on Pexels.com

The Reality:

This myth is at best a half-truth. While our passions and gifts can be a part of our calling, it’s not always the case. Just because you are passionate about something, doesn’t mean it’s your calling. Similarly, just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean it’s your calling either.

It’s important to distinguish between your passions and your calling. Your passions are things that you enjoy doing and that bring you happiness, but your calling is a deeper sense of purpose that encompasses all aspects of life (see above). Your passions may play a role in your calling, but they are not the only aspect. Your calling may also involve hard work, sacrifice, and serving others, even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.

Why It Matters:

Pursuing passion as our calling – even if it’s our secondary calling – is bad career advice. It is also narcissistic, as it puts the focus on ourselves (“what interest me most?”) rather than on what the world needs from us (“where can I make the greatest impact or contribution?”).

By only looking inward to discern our calling, we fall into the trap of making our calling all about ourselves. This is another form of idolatry of work.

So, if you’re feeling unsure about whether your passions are your calling, take a step back and evaluate what truly brings you fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Is it just the act of doing something you enjoy, or is it the impact that it has on others and the world?

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

– Frederick Buechner

Myth #3. You have only one calling throughout your life

The Myth:

Many people believe that we have only one calling throughout our entire life, and that once we find it, we must stick with it forever. This belief can be limiting and prevent us from exploring new opportunities and experiences. It also assumes that our calling is ‘out there’, and if we miss it, we will be unfulfilled for life.

The Reality:

In reality, our calling is a journey that evolves and develops over time, and it’s possible to have multiple callings throughout our lives. Our calling is not just a static destination, but rather a dynamic and ever-evolving journey. As we grow, change, and experience new things, our perspectives, skills, and passions also change. Our calling may evolve and change with us, and it’s important to be open to new opportunities and experiences that may bring new insights and perspectives.

woman standing on cliff
Photo by Nina Uhlikova on Pexels.com

Throughout the Bible, we see men and women of faith who are first called to know God, and then to follow Him into a particular calling at a particular time and place. Consider Abraham: he was first called to leave his country and go to a land God will show him (Genesis 12:1-3). God’s specific calling for him unfolded over the decades as Abraham progressed in his faith and experience of God. Or David: before he was called to be king, he was first a shepherd, then a warrior in Saul’s army. Even as king David experienced different phases of his calling, from unifying his kingdom to bringing back the ark, from quelling the civil war with his son Absalom to leaving a legacy for his heir, Solomon.

In all their lives we may see a big overarching theme, but the specifics of our calling are played out year by year, day by day, moment by moment.

Why It Matters:

Brian Saunders, in his book, The 6 Seasons of Calling: Discovering Your Purpose in Each Stage of Life, proposed that our calling is something ongoing and dynamic. Because our calling is rooted in our relationship with God and our perception of His voice, it isn’t a static or one-time experience.

Brian Saunders, The 6 Seasons of Calling: Discovering Your Purpose in Each Stage of Life
Brian Saunders, The 6 Seasons of Calling: Discovering Your Purpose in Each Stage of Life. Front cover.
Brian Saunders, The 6 Seasons of Calling: Discovering Your Purpose in Each Stage of Life
Back cover.

While our calling doesn’t constantly shift and change, we can trace 6 basic seasons as our life unfolds:

  • Childhood – the season of bonding
  • Adolescence – the season of learning
  • Early Career – the season of serving
  • Mid-Career – the season of creating
  • Late Career – the season of giving
  • Transition – the season of leaving

I find this concept very interesting and liberating. For one, it helps me to see that my season of calling now could be very different from the previous one. In my mid-career (typically 36-48 years old), I express that season of creating by making something of significance to who I am called to be. Whether it is building the church youth ministry, or building a healthy teacher culture at work, or even in building this website, the core theme of this season is creating.

Yet someday, I will transition into doing something entirely different, to give and empower and mentor others to do something they could not have imagined for themselves.

By understanding that calling comes in seasons, we do not get fixated on getting that one calling right, or feeling frustrated that we are not at the center of our calling.

Remember, it’s possible to have multiple callings throughout your life. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore new opportunities and experiences.

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding your calling is a unique and personal journey that requires self-reflection, exploration, and a willingness to challenge societal norms. By debunking the myths about your calling being your ideal job, solely based on passion, or limited to one thing, you can open up to new possibilities and opportunities for God to show you who and where He is truly calling you to be and do.

Remember that your calling is an ongoing process and it is never too late to start searching for it. Keep an open mind, embrace change, and always continue to pursue self-discovery. With a positive outlook and a growth-oriented mindset, you can find your calling and lead a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.

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