Hey there! Welcome to the second part of our Vocational Fit series, where we explore how to align your work with your calling. In the first post, we talked about how to measure the degree of alignment between your work and your calling. While every job gives you an opportunity to represent God in the workplace, it’s important to be a good steward of your gifts and potential by assessing where you are in terms of vocational fit and where you want to be. In this post, we’ll dive into the 5 levels of vocational fit and share some tips to help you progress through each level. Our aim is to help you find more meaning and purpose in your career while using your gifts and talents to their fullest potential.
- Why is it Important to Move to a Better Vocational Fit?
- Moving from Level 1 “It’s just a Job” to Level 2
- Moving from Level 2 “Somewhat Interesting Work” to Level 3
- Moving from Level 3 “Enjoyable and Satisfying Work” to Level 4
- Moving from Level 4 “Meaningful Work” to Level 5
- Finding Your Level 5 Zone
- More on Calling and Work
Why is it Important to Move to a Better Vocational Fit?
It is faithful stewardship
Being a good steward of our gifts means considering where we are in terms of vocational fit and where we need to be. Moving up the levels requires effort, discipline, persistence, risk, and often sacrifice. But by doing so, we can use our gifts and potential to their fullest, and in turn, honor God with our lives.
We have more opportunities to do God’s work within the context of our work
As we move up the levels of vocational fit, we typically have more opportunities to do God’s work within the context of our work. When we use our gifts to their fullest potential, others take notice, and we can influence and inspire them to do the same. This, in turn, can lead to even more opportunities to make a positive impact in the workplace and beyond.
In their book, Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck shared how Mel Gibson’s critically acclaimed movie, The Passion of the Christ (2004), led to much media attention and renewed curiosity about the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death.
Of course, we do not need to be famous in order to make an impact. When we are faithful in the station God has placed us in, He will multiply our influence for His glory (Matthew 5:16).
We gain greater influence for God’s purposes
Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.”
As we gain a reputation for excellence in our work, we can use our influence for God’s purposes and make a difference in the lives of those around us. By leveling up our vocational fit, we can achieve greater influence and make an even greater impact for God’s kingdom.
“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.”— Proverbs 22:29
Moving from Level 1 “It’s just a Job” to Level 2
Level 1 of vocational fit is all about meeting your basic needs. At this stage, you’re focused on finding any job that will help you make ends meet. While survival jobs can be necessary and provide temporary relief, they’re not sustainable in the long term. To move beyond Level 1, you need to start thinking about how your job can align with your gifts and values.
Why it’s important to move beyond Level 1:
Survival jobs can be stressful, unfulfilling, and prevent you from reaching your full potential. If you’re stuck in a survival job, you may feel like you’re just going through the motions and not making a meaningful contribution. By moving beyond Level 1, you can start to explore career paths that align with your strengths and interests, which can lead to greater job satisfaction, fulfillment, and career success.
Strategies for leveling up at Level 1:
Identify your transferable skills:
Start by identifying the skills you’ve developed in your current job. Even if your job isn’t aligned with your calling, you’ve likely developed skills that can be applied to other roles. For example, if you’re a cashier, you’ve developed customer service skills that could be applied to roles in sales or customer support.
Seek out additional education or training:
Consider investing in your education or training to develop new skills that could open up new career opportunities. Look for low-cost or free options, such as online courses, community college programs, or apprenticeships. For Singaporeans, the MySkillsFuture Portal is a good place to start!
Apply job crafting:
Job crafting is the process of reshaping your job to better fit your skills, interests, and values.
Here are some steps you can take to apply job crafting in your own current job:
- Identify areas for improvement
Take some time to reflect on your current job and identify areas that you would like to improve. This could include tasks you dislike, skills you would like to develop, or aspects of your job that don’t align with your values.
- Brainstorm potential changes
Once you have identified areas for improvement, brainstorm potential changes that you could make to your job. For example, you might consider asking for more challenging assignments, seeking out training opportunities to develop new skills, or finding ways to incorporate your values into your work.
- Prioritize changes
After brainstorming potential changes, prioritize them based on their feasibility and potential impact. Start with changes that are relatively easy to implement and that will have a significant impact on your job satisfaction and performance.
- Take action
Once you have identified and prioritized potential changes, take action to implement them. This might involve having a conversation with your manager about your career goals, seeking out training or mentorship opportunities, or taking on new responsibilities or projects.
- Evaluate and adjust
After implementing changes, take some time to evaluate their effectiveness and adjust your approach as needed. This could involve seeking feedback from your manager or colleagues, reflecting on your own performance, and making changes to your job crafting plan based on what you learn.
To learn more about Job Crafting, check out this post:
By implementing these strategies, you can start to move beyond survival mode and begin to explore new career paths that align with your gifts and values.
Moving from Level 2 “Somewhat Interesting Work” to Level 3
Level 2 is often described as doing “OK work that is of some interest.” While it may be more enjoyable than Level 1 work, many people still feel somewhat discontented at this level. However, because they are making a good salary or have other benefits, they may not feel motivated to make a change.
The difference between Level 2 and 3 is mastery. Mastery or competence in a job is crucial to job satisfaction because it enables individuals to perform their tasks with greater ease and efficiency, leading to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
When we feel competent in our work, we are more likely to experience a flow state, a mental state of complete absorption in the task at hand. This flow state is associated with increased levels of creativity, productivity, and job satisfaction.
Furthermore, competence and mastery allow us to take on greater challenges and responsibilities, which can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in our work. As we become more proficient in our tasks, we may be given more autonomy and decision-making power, leading to a greater sense of control over our work and a deeper investment in the outcomes.
In addition, mastery and competence can lead to recognition and respect from colleagues, superiors, and clients, which can further enhance job satisfaction. Being recognized for our abilities and contributions can be a powerful motivator and can reinforce a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our work.
Strategies for leveling up at Level 2:
One of the best strategies to grow in competency in our current job is to seek out opportunities for professional development. This can include attending workshops and conferences, pursuing additional education or certifications, or seeking mentorship or coaching from more experienced colleagues.
Again – for Singaporeans – if your organization does not provide professional development, look up the MySkillsFuture Portal and find a course that fit your learning needs at this time.
Expand your skillset
In addition to seeking out formal opportunities, we can also take initiative in our daily work to expand our skillset and improve our performance. This can include setting goals for ourselves, seeking feedback from our supervisors and colleagues, and actively seeking out new challenges and responsibilities.
Cultivate a growth mindset
Another important strategy is to cultivate a growth mindset, which involves embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, and viewing failures as opportunities for learning and growth. By adopting a growth mindset, we can shift our focus from simply completing tasks to actively seeking out opportunities to learn and improve.
Ultimately, growing in competency requires a commitment to ongoing learning and development. By seeking out new opportunities, taking initiative in our daily work, and cultivating a growth mindset, we can build our skills and expertise, and experience greater satisfaction and fulfillment in our jobs.
Moving from Level 3 “Enjoyable and Satisfying Work” to Level 4
Moving up from Level 3 requires a deeper introspection of one’s values and desires. It’s not enough to be competent in enjoyable work; we need to find work that aligns with our values and provides a sense of purpose.
The difference between Level 3 and Level 4 is meaning. The key to finding meaning in our work is to connect it to a higher purpose. We need to realize that we are serving a cause that is larger than ourselves.
At Level 3, we may find ourselves in enjoyable work that is satisfying for many years. But there may come a point when we feel a need for something more meaningful, something that connects us more deeply to God’s purposes.
As Christians, we are called to be agents of redemption and restoration in the world. Our work is one way in which we can fulfill that calling.
Strategies for leveling up at Level 3:
Connecting our work with God’s work
God is at work in all things, and that includes our work. As we seek to grow in our competency and skill, we should also seek to connect our work with God’s work of redemption in the world. We can start by asking ourselves:
- How might we use our work to serve others?
- How might we bring healing and wholeness to broken systems and structures in our workplace?
- How might we bring glory to God?
- How might we use the gifts and talents that God has given us to make a difference in the world?
To understand how we can connect our work with God’s work, we need to grow in our theology of work. For those living in Singapore, BGST provides theological training for laity at an affordable rate and much flexibility. You can check out their signature course on ‘Vocation, Work and Ministry’ here.
Seek out opportunities to apply our skills and knowledge to a cause or mission that resonates with our calling
For example, a graphic designer who enjoys creating designs for a fashion company may seek out opportunities to work with non-profit organizations that focus on environmental causes or social justice issues.
Seek out growth opportunities within our current job or industry
This may involve taking on new responsibilities, learning new skills, or pursuing advanced education. By continually challenging ourselves and growing in our careers, we can find greater satisfaction and a deeper sense of purpose in our work.
As a teacher, I made a switch in my career track back in 2020. I was the Head of the Mother Tongue Languages Department for five years, which was under the leadership track. Even though it provided me with growth opportunities and a degree of influence in my school, I found that my personality and skillset are better suited to serve as a Senior Teacher, which is under the teaching track. I made the decision to hand over my portfolio to my colleague, who is a more capable middle manager than I am. My new role involves more pedagogical leadership and mentoring, which aligns better with my strengths and inclination. I found that my level of influence did not wane as a result. Instead, it takes a different form as I play a deeper role in the lives of my colleagues and students.
It’s important to note that leveling up from Level 3 may require taking some risks and stepping outside of our comfort zones. It may mean leaving a comfortable job or taking a pay cut to pursue a more fulfilling career path. However, the rewards of finding work that aligns with our values and provides a sense of purpose are worth the effort and sacrifice.
Moving from Level 4 “Meaningful Work” to Level 5
Moving from Level 4 to Level 5 requires a deep commitment to personal growth and a willingness to take risks. At Level 4, people may feel content with their work and the impact they are making, but they may also have a sense that there is still more they can do to make a difference. To level up to Level 5, people need to be willing to challenge themselves to step outside of their comfort zones and to explore new opportunities that align with their purpose and passions.
Strategies for leveling up at Level 4:
Seek out leadership roles or opportunities to mentor others.
By sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, people at this level can make an even greater impact on their organization or community. They can also consider pursuing additional education or training to deepen their skills and broaden their perspectives.
Explore new avenues for making a difference beyond the confines of their current job or organization.
This could involve volunteering for a nonprofit organization or pursuing a side hustle that aligns with their purpose and passions. By taking on new challenges and exploring new opportunities, people at level four can continue to grow and develop in their vocational fit journey.
Finding Your Level 5 Zone
Reaching Level 5 of vocational fit, or vocational integration, is the pinnacle of vocational fulfillment. At this level, work is not just a means to earn a living, but it’s an expression of who you are. Your work becomes a natural extension of your identity, and you feel a deep sense of alignment with your calling. This alignment brings joy, fulfillment, and a deep sense of purpose to your life. People at this level often feel as though they are doing exactly what they were put on earth to do.
To find your Level 5 zone, you need to look within yourself and identify your deepest passions, values, and strengths.
- What brings you the most joy and fulfillment in life?
- What do you care about deeply?
- What are you naturally good at?
I love to quote Frederick Buechner on this point, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Knowing your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger is the key to finding your Level 5 zone.
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Once you have identified these key elements, you can start to explore ways to integrate them into your work. This may require thinking outside the box and considering non-traditional career paths or creating your own business or organization. It may also require taking risks, being open to learning and growing, and being patient as you navigate the journey toward vocational integration.
Remember, reaching Level 5 is not just about finding the perfect job or career path but about aligning your work with your deepest passions, values, and strengths. It is about living your life in the way that God intends for you. So, take the time to explore, experiment and pray, and don’t be afraid to take bold steps toward vocational integration.
In conclusion, growing through our vocational fit is a lifelong journey that requires self-awareness, intentional decision-making, and ongoing evaluation. It is not always easy, but it is essential to ensure that we are good stewards of our gifts and potential, and to find fulfillment in our work. Progressing through the levels of vocational fit requires effort, discipline, persistence, risk-taking, and often sacrifice. Yet, the rewards are significant, including greater opportunities to do God’s work within the context of our work, gaining greater influence for God’s purposes, and achieving a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Ultimately, finding our Level 5 zone, where our work is an expression of who we are, is the ultimate goal. It is where we find the greatest alignment between our calling, gifts, and work, and where we can make the most significant impact in the world. May we all have the courage and perseverance to strive towards this level, trusting in God’s guidance and provision along the way.
More on Calling and Work
This article is part of a series of posts about calling and work. Check out the other articles that explore how we can live out our calling in the world of work:
- How to Find Your Calling
- How Job Crafting Transform Your Work into Calling
- Why Do We Work – Job, Career, or Calling?
Here are some helpful reviews and resources:
- ‘Love Your Work’ by Robert Dickie
- ‘Mere Christians’ Podcast by Jordan Raynor
- ‘Master of One’ by Jordan Raynor
- Theology of Work Project
Thoughts or feedback? Feel free to drop in your comment below!