One’s calling¹ is his or her vocation, job, career or profession. But more than mere work, one’s calling invokes a passion for work, a drive to accomplish, excel or master something. We usually think that calling applies to artists and clergy, who are called to their life work. The rest of us just go to work. The difference is working passionately vs. working dutifully.
In a purposeless universe nothing matters. End of discussion.
But in a purposeful universe people are called to fulfill the purpose for which they have been given a particular character. The means of such fulfillment is work. Like an engine or motor, human beings have been designed to work, to accomplish particular tasks and jobs.
There are two important issues regarding one’s calling: the source of the call, and the subject of the call. The source of such a call can only be God, and is best understood as the historic, Christian Protestant Work Ethic. Is there such a thing? The secular father of Sociology, Max Weber, documented it in his classic book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In other words, the value of the Protestant Work Ethic is recognized by Christians and non-Christians alike.
We believe that it is important to acknowledge the source of one’s calling in order to make one’s self fully available to the means by which such calling is to be accomplished. While hearing the call is essential, answering the call is everything. How it works is the subject of teaching, reading, mentoring and consultation.
The subject of the call is both the person called and nature of the calling. We find that people who answer or respond to their calling are also equipped to fulfill it, though the process of equipping often involves the development of character and the understanding of purpose.
There is no work more satisfying — or more difficult — than the fulfillment of one’s calling. Whereas work done apart from one’s calling is boring, frustrating and unfruitful, working in one’s calling yields tremendous satisfaction in spite of the discipline required and the difficulties encountered.
The key issue regarding one’s calling is the hearing of the call. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15).
1Calling: To summon to the discharge of a particular duty; to designate for an office, or employment.