By Emily Heisinger
I am six and a half months from my college graduation. In early May 2018, I will walk across the stage and accept a Journalism diploma from one of my favorite professors, and then I will hold it in my hands with a future ahead of me. It seems that I am chasing endless trails of questions that flood in relentlessly. What will I do? Where will I work? How should I plan for that moment? Where do I feel called?
I am certain that I am not alone in asking these important questions. The answers to these ponderings are life-defining. The most interesting piece of this for me, however, is “calling”. It is the only thing that seems abstract, that feels confusing, that intimidates and excites all at the same time. What is my calling?
I consider the following as my overarching calling: First and foremost God calls me to obey him. He wants me to love others and to conform to his teachings, choosing Him and others above myself each and every day. This calling was placed on my life when I chose to follow him and become a Christian. I also know that if I am “called”, then God is the “caller” and I learn in John 10:27 that He communicates with us:
Besides the overarching calling mentioned above, I consider that I am also given specific callings, so, what is my calling in relation to work? Calling in vocation was defined by Biola Professor Arianna Yeh (nee Molloy) in a chapel presentation as the “overarching sense of meaning in one’s work”. Jonathan Haidt described calling as something that is intrinsically fulfilling, something that you might pursue even if you were not being paid to do it (Haidt, 2006).
It’s amazing how individuality, preference, and passions among people differ drastically. If two individuals are sitting next to each other, it is possible that one person would find a topic so absolutely fascinating that they could spend hours reading about it, enjoying it, even doing it! The other person might find that topic to be the most boring thing they have ever encountered. You might have even experienced this in your own friendships. I believe that calling is intrinsically tied to our unique interests and passions. There is this really exciting individualization within calling that provides a comfort that we are not all required to do and pursue the same things.
So, I’ve learned that when work and passions intersect, it becomes this sweet spot and place of calling. The average human being spends over one-third of their adult life working. This means that if you live for 90 years, which is on the higher end, and start working in a job of some sort at age 18, you would spend, on average, 24 of those years working. That is insane. When I was thinking about this number, I realized that so much work would require some sort of meaning within it and some passion behind it.
What are some considerations for discovering our calling? We can track what we are passionate about by noticing when we encounter the sensation of that sweet spot. What particular tasks are you engaged in when you encounter this moment? There are some aspects of this you might want to remember about doing things we are passionate about. Additionally, we can model their vocational call after King David:
In the midst of our passion and excitement, we can strive to carry integrity in our hearts. This can relate to the calling put on our lives by God to obey him. The second thing to remember is that a person who thrives in their vocational or work calling has skillful hands. They are really good at what they do, and often it comes from a lot of time and hard work. A good heart full of integrity is essential to going after a calling, but on its own, you may find that it is not that useful within it. It is a good idea to develop the skill you need in order to pursue your passions.
If you’re like me, you might not feel particularly called at this time in life. You might have some idea of what you want to do and a little knowledge about things you love, but no specific direction to take it in. That’s okay. Yeh also talked about calling as a journey, stating “it’s not some big moment, it happens along the way.”