Vocation: calling, life’s work, mission, purpose, craft, career. Deeper than a job, what “occupies” us, what we clock in and out for, vocation is something welling up and spilling out. Vocation is what you daydream about when you’re a kid or pursue in your free time with passion. And sometimes it’s at odds with gainful employment. Bummer.
I find myself in the precarious predicament of choosing what is expedient and financially viable or pursuing instead my vocation. Summer is coming, and I have a choice: accept a lucrative, short-term, even meaningful job (Door #1), or throw myself with gusto into writing, foregoing any immediate financial gain (Door #2). Kind of a bird-in-the-hand versus imaginary-bush scenario. Am I brave enough?
Heard a coach in college once say,
“Nothing great can ever be accomplished by those who are only casually involved.”
So true. But he didn’t mention that the cost of that passionate involvement is usually real and deep and immediate while the pay-off is far off and uncertain. That’s why they call it your life’s work, folks. It takes a lifetime. Ask my husband, the church planter. It’s slow, this soul work. It’s exhausting, and often disappointing. But to settle for a day job — tedium, frustration, the sense that the boat has cast off from the pier and left you stranded — well, that carries its own cost.
What were you made for? What makes you sing? What would you give to come home tired and happy and satisfied day after day? You can do any job with excellence and good humor and shine there. But you are the only one who can do your particular life’s work.
Maybe it will never pay you a dime. Maybe you have to put food on the table through a 9-to-5 and it’s only in the pre-dawn hours that you paint the Mona Lisa in your garage. Or maybe it’s risky, taking a leap when you’re not quite sure of that soft landing.
My book’s coming out in September. There’s just the one summer before that happens. This is it, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make the most of it. Come to think of it, this is it — the one life we all get, thirty thousand days and then we’re out. How will I spend my days?
I gotta say, this is one of the reasons I love Jesus so much. Not the miserly, pinched God our culture expects to see, instead he offers abundance, joy, freedom, and purpose. While there is always a cost — a steep cost, to be sure — there is also promise. Give up monotony and futility in exchange for challenge, hope, beauty, long-lasting significance, rest and the occasional water-walking miracle. Not bad for a day’s work. Not bad for a lifetime of days.