Listening & Healing Every Day
Michele Van Fossen is a hairstylist, and she sees her everyday job as a vehicle for healing the people who sit in her chair. Watch this video where Michele tells about her work.
Restoring Homes, Restoring a Community
Kimberly Renner, owner of The Renner Project, explains how she finds God and her calling through the work she does in restoring homes in her community.
Connecting to the Needs of People
Joshua Bingaman, entrepreneur and boot-maker, sees his work as connecting to the deep needs of the community and offering healing to others.
For many of us who work, there exists an exasperating discontinuity between how we see ourselves as persons and how we see ourselves as workers. We need to eliminate that sense of discontinuity and to restore a sense of coherence in our lives. Work should be and can be rewarding, meaningful and maturing, enriching and fulfilling, healing and joyful. Work is one of our greatest privileges. Work can even be poetic. (Max De Pree in Leadership is An Art)
You want your work to reflect your unique make-up, to fulfill you spiritually, and to make a difference in the world. You’re not just looking for a job – you’re looking for a calling.
If you’re wondering “How can I find my true calling?” here are 5 probing questions you can ask yourself. The answers can help you figure out what special work God has for you.
We don't hear the language of calling very often in common speech anymore. When I was growing up, I heard people talk about their calling even outside of church, mostly as a way of describing their careers or professions. The question, "What is your calling?" might be answered with "I'm a doctor" or "I'm a carpenter." You will still hear things like this using the word "vocation," which is derived from the Latin word for "calling." Secular educators, for example, speak of the need for young people to develop a "sense of vocation," which means something like "mission for life."
I would love to see a renaissance in the use of "calling" and "vocation" language, not only because people need to live with some greater purpose, but also because such language makes a crucial assumption. If you take the word "calling" seriously, if you let "vocation" retain its core meaning, then both of these terms assume the existence of a caller, or a Caller, if you will. If you have a "calling" and not just a "purpose" or "mission," then this means someone has called you, someone who deserves a response.
Of course, we know that God is the one who calls us. I doubt this truth has surprised you. Yet, I wonder how your life and my life would be different if we took seriously the fact that we are living in response to the call of God. As I think about this at the beginning of a day, I realize that I would approach this day differently if I paid attention to the fact that I have a calling from a Caller. I would see this day, not just as one more day to be lived in ordinary fashion, and not only as a day in which I will make my own choices about how to live, but also as an opportunity to live in consistent, intentional response to the one who has called and is calling me. Today is a time for me to shape my life by the calling that God has given to all Christians. It is a moment for me to live in light of the unique calling God has given me. And it is a chance for me to be attentive to God's Spirit, who continues to call me into action in God's mission.
No matter what your agenda is for today, no matter where you work or study or serve or play, may you heed the calling of your Caller, living in response to his voice and purpose.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Gracious God, thank you for calling me into relationship with yourself. Thank you for calling me into your mission. Thank you for helping me to hear your voice and respond to your calling. Help me this day, I pray, to live in response to you. May every thought of mine, every choice, every action be a way for me to say "Yes, Lord" to you. Amen.
Hit the pause button, urges Jennifer Haworth, spiritual director and teacher at Loyola University Chicago. Take time to listen carefully to God, to yourself, and to the cries of a hungry, needy world as you discern God's call. Jennifer draws on Frederick Buechner’s definition of calling (vocation) as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC).
Uncovering your God-given desires is key to discovering your calling. For many of us, discovering your passion can seem like an overwhelming task, but there are questions you can answer that will help with your quest. Download the worksheet and spend time reflecting on your calling.
Work is far from foreign to God. Many stories in Scripture use images of God as worker. God the Creator is described as a gardener, potter, metalworker, midwife, artisan, and builder. Jesus labors as a carpenter before he starts his work of preaching, teaching, and healing. The Spirit of God works to renew the face of the earth and breathe new life into God’s people. In this passage from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is at work teaching the crowds when he meets the disciples in their own work of fishing. So God is no stranger to work: its joys, its challenges, and its central place in our lives.
Yet we often overlook the daily details of our work—its activities, responsibilities, conversations and encounters—as being ways that God could encounter us. We may struggle to see the meaning of our work in the eyes of God. What do the meetings and phone calls and emails and deadlines of our day have to do with God?
The story of Jesus calling the fishermen invites us to look with fresh eyes at how everyday work offers opportunities to hear and respond to God’s call. The fact that Jesus meets his future disciples in the activity of their work is no coincidence. As Simon, James, and John were in the middle of an ordinary day of fishing, Jesus used their work to reach out to them and continue his own work of drawing disciples to his ministry. So, too, can God the Worker work through your work.
To begin, think about the times that your work feels most energizing. Maybe when you help someone who needs it, put your skills to use or find a solution to a difficult problem. Noticing where you experience joy in your job can help identify your calling in relation to work, since such moments can be affirmations that you are using your gifts for God’s purposes.
Now reflect on moments when you have felt God’s presence while at work. Maybe you prayed in preparation for a difficult meeting or thanked God for a meaningful conversation with a co-worker. Even if connections between your faith and your work feel few or far-between, chances are that you have experienced ways that God seemed to “show up” during a work day.
How God Calls: In Work Itself
When people think about connecting faith and work, they often think about how they work: the way they treat clients with compassion or show kindness to a co-worker. But God also waits to meet us in what we do. The activity of everyday work—the tasks you do, the people you meet, the projects you create—provide opportunities to hear and respond to encounter God’s call of vocation.
Look back on your answers to the questions above. You may find it easier to recognize God’s presence in different aspects of work, whether moments of intense interaction or personal reflection. Consider the following examples of ways that God can call. Which of these examples apply to your work?
The idea of God calling us in the ordinary activity of our job does not mean that work will always be exciting, easy or interesting. But as we begin to look at our work through the lens of vocation, we may see how the complexity and particularity of our daily labor is part of God’s own complex and unique work. We are called by God—and can respond to God—in our work itself.
Excerpted from Called to Work. Laura Kelly Fanuci. A Program of the Collegeville Institute Seminars. Collegeville Institute, 2016, pages 17-18. (collegevilleinstitute.org/vocation-projects/resources-for-congregations/called-to-work)
Do you wonder what God is calling you to do? Most people don’t hear God speak from the clouds and point them to a particular career. Answering God’s call is bigger than any one job—it’s following Christ into a restored relationship with him and with other people. Discover where God is calling you in your work today.
Use the 4-session reflection devotional from YouVersion to explore "what is God's calling for your work"
The C3 Project is a service of Vibrant Faith funded through a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Called to Lives of Purpose Initiative with the purpose of assisting congregations in developing and testing new ministry models for helping Christians discover and claim their callings.
Vibrant Faith: https://vibrantfaith.org