A Job or A Calling?

I used to think there wasn’t much of a difference between a job, a career, and a calling. I bet you didn’t know that my first job was in an orange juice factory, but I got canned. I just couldn’t concentrate. Then I went up north and worked as a lumberjack, but honestly I couldn’t cut it so they gave me the axe. Finally I tried an inside job and was trained as a tailor, but it soon became obvious that I wasn’t suited for it. (You know I’m kidding, don’t you?) I did have other “real” jobs like working at Burger King, being a lifeguard at the ocean, and on the maintenance crew at a hospital. None of these had my heart, but they paid the bills while I was in seminary.

Unfortunately, it does sound like a familiar scenario for many who go from job to job trying to find something that suits (oops) them. This is very confusing to many men in our culture (and a growing number of women) who tend to define themselves by their occupation. We need to cut through this confusion and first establish our “calling.”

Dr. Timothy Butler of the Harvard Business School acknowledges this: “There are three words that tend to be used interchangeably- and shouldn’t be. They are “vocation,” “career,” and “job.” Vocation is the most profound of the three because it has to do with your calling. It is what you are doing in life that makes a difference for you, that builds meaning for you, that you can look back on in your later years to see the impact you’ve made on the world. A calling is something you have to listen for.”

I would define a job as something you do to pay the bills. I think that a career is also working for the paycheck, but there are usually more opportunities for advancement and training in your field that bring a longer term vision for a professional future.

A calling, however, is where your skill, passion, and gift-mix are so interconnected that you may feel you could make a difference in this world. One of my friends, Paul Sweas, gave me a quote that I think is terrific: “A job/career is what you are paid for. A calling is what you are made for.” What have you been made for? I think that is more important than asking yourself what you would like to do for a living.

There are some for whom a job (and even a career) not only pays the bills, but enables them to fulfill their calling in another area. Many have called it “tent making,” replicating the Apostle Paul who literally made tents to support himself while doing ministry. For others, their calling also translates into a job and a career, like it has for me after 47 years in pastoral ministry. But what really matters is our calling.

This will be my last semester of having “a job”. I will be stepping down as Chaplain of Wheaton College Graduate School. What will I do in “retirement”?  I have no idea. But there is one thing I know that will not change — my calling, as a Pastor. How that will be played out in the future is my next great adventure. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a chaplain in an orange juice factory– this time I’ll concentrate!

Clever Quips, Quotes, and Smore…

I like to collect clever quips, quotes, and statistics. Here are some for your enjoyment:

“USA Today has come out with a new survey – apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population.” (David Letterman) “The trouble with a rat race is that even when you win, you’re still a rat.” (Lily Tomlin) “Committee – a group of people who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.” (Fred Allen) “When the path ahead of you is uphill, surrounded by rough spots, hazards and obstacles: use a pitching wedge.” (Lee Brachen) “If pro is opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?” (think about that and say Amen!)

“It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalm 46, the 46th word from the first word is “shake”and the 46th word from the last word is spear.” (hmm) “A child can go only so far in life without potty training. It is not mere coincidence that six of the last seven presidents were potty trained, not to mention nearly half of the nation’s state legislators.” (Dave Berry, on how statistics can be used to prove anything)

“I know statistically if you don’t get married, you’re less likely to get divorced.” (Craig Ferguson) “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.” (unknown)Isn’t Disney World just a people trap operated by a mouse?” (anonymous) “If 75% of all accidents happen within 5 miles of home, why not move 10 miles away?” (anonymous)

“I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” (Woody Allen) “I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.” (Groucho Marx) “We need a 12-step group for compulsive talkers. They could call it On Anon Anon. (Paula Poundstone) “What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?” (George Carlin)

Finally some anonymous ones:

“The last thing I want to do is insult you. But it IS on the list.” “Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.” “Treat each day as your last; one day you will be right.” “Help stamp out, eliminate, and abolish redundancy”! “Jesus loves you, it’s everyone else who thinks your an idiot.” “Why did the chicken go to the seance? To get to the other side.” “How do you make a tissue dance? Put a little boogie in it.” “Sometimes I just want to go to IKEA, hide in a wardrobe, and wait for someone to open it and yell ‘Welcome to Narnia!'”

Finally (this time I mean it), in honor of Valentines Day:

“I looked in my wallet and it was empty. I looked in my pockets and they were empty. Then I looked in my heart and found you, and realized that you had taken all my money.” “People say you can’t live without love. But I think oxygen is more important.” “Isn’t it ironic that we have Valentines Day at the height of flu season?”  “Will you be my Valentine? That was a rhetorical question, you have no choice- we’re married.”  “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jesus) “We love because he first loved us.” (St John)