“It was never an ambition. It was a calling.” When I heard my colleague speak those words about herself and her career, they immediately resonated with me and everything I believe about finding purpose in our work, in our ministry and in every role in life. I think of some of the most successful, influential leaders I have ever known, including this colleague, and I suspect most every one of them would say the same thing – they followed a calling.
So many people wrestle with these questions: What is my calling? How will it be revealed to me? When will I know I am living my calling? In some cases, we may follow several callings in our lives.
My own story began born of a calling. As a young girl, I always wanted to be a writer. Majoring in journalism in college, I quickly realized that I, personally, lacked the life experiences to begin a writing career right out of college. So, I transferred those talents to the advertising field. While I really liked my work and It seemed to satisfy my journalistic calling, I did not like the environment of an advertising firm. I stumbled into my second calling when I began to try to find an in-house advertising position. When I finished the long selection process at Chick-fil-A, I found myself in human resources, rather than advertising. Soon, I realized that I had been called to help others find their calling, and I did so for 30 years.
In It’s My Pleasure, I wrote that a calling not only resonates in your heart, but it sizzles in your soul. A calling chases after you until you begin to recognize it, embrace it and live into it. When we live outside our calling, we are restless, even anxious, but when we discover the calling and live into it, we find peace and certainty about our purpose. Where our unique talents, dreams and desires intersect with the needs of the world is the place of our calling.
Fulfilling a calling is the outward expression of our purpose. Once we discover our purpose, we find there are many different ways to fulfill it and most often we do so through our calling.
When I retired from my corporate career, I realized that my purpose did not. Early in my career, one of my mentors often quoted Zig Ziglar, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will eventually get what you want.” As I fulfilled my own calling, I learned that it was important to me, even my purpose to help others get what they want. In this chapter of my life as a business owner, author, speaker, consultant and coach, the calling and the purpose remains the same, only the path to get there has changed: Help others to find their calling and Inspire them to live their purpose.
What about you? Whether you are early career, mid-career, seeking career change, or like me, experiencing an exciting new life chapter, what are you being called to do? Most people will answer, “That is a good question.” If that’s your answer, then try asking yourself these questions and journal the answers:
- What was I created to do? What is the one thing that I have known in my spirit all of my life I was meant to do?
- What are my greatest gifts and talents? (If you don’t know, ask people to tell you.)
- Fill in the blank: __________________ gives me the greatest joy.
- If money, time and responsibilities were no object, I would spend my time doing _________________________________________________________________.
- Regardless of my vocation, I want to serve others by _________________________________________________________________.
- Regardless of my vocation, I want to share this talent with the world _________________________________________________________________.
- The experience in life that has most shaped my perspective is _________________________________________________________________.
- One of the wrongs in the world I would like to make right is _________________________________________________________________.
- If I could influence my community, I would improve or change _________________________________________________________________.
- In quiet, still moments, I dream about _________________________________________________________________.
The answers to these questions, along with wise counsel from trusted friends and colleagues can help guide you to the calling that gives your days meaning and purpose in every season of life. I encourage you to explore and see what you discover. Your path is only unknown to you. You were created as part of a plan and with a purpose. You will find it when you seek it. I would love for you to share your discovery here with me!