How many times have you associated your calling with your career? That's okay, we all have. We are conditioned to. Our society focuses so heavily on the "what do you do," question rather than trying to understand who we are. So, naturally most of us don't know who we are.
Your calling should be independent of your career.
If you think of your calling as your life's purpose then it encompasses all of your life. You no longer need to feel like your family life, is separate from your work life, is separate from your volunteer life, etc. All of those aspects of your life are just vehicles and opportunities for you to fulfil your purpose. The beauty of that is if you lose a piece of your life, or something changes, you don't lose you.
I have often called Stable Moments my calling. To serve foster children and help end the foster care crisis was what I thought was my calling. But, here's a few reasons why that way of thinking limited my true purpose.
It was separate from my family life. I felt like time spent with my family or working on my home was directly taking away from my purpose, therefore breeding resentment, and the thought that if I was a faithful servant I should give up time with my family to serve God.
It was separate from my day job. Although I work for a nonprofit, it serves a different population than foster youth. I always felt that this work wasn't directly aligned with my life's purpose, therefore I wasn't giving myself fully to it.
It closed me off from other opportunities. If it wasn't related to serving foster youth, or Stable Moments, then I quickly decided it doesn't fit with my calling. I also felt guilty when I got excited about opportunities outside of my calling. Was my calling changing? Am I losing sight? Am I just chasing the new thing that's coming my way? There were lots of identity crises and conflicts that locked up and limited how I moved forward and what I chose each day.
So, while listening to Greg Groeshel's interview with Paula Faris who was promoting her new book Called Out about this concept of calling vs. career, I had an aha moment! I needed to get CLEAR on my purpose and understand all aspects of my life are vehicles for that purpose.
With that, I did some soul searching and now believe my purpose is "to help others, serve others." What is so beautiful about this new clarity is not only does it help align all the things in my life to be working towards that purpose, but it also gives me a criteria in which to choose how I spend my day. Now everything fits, and the things that don't can come off the plate.
Raising my family to serve others means leading by example and serving them. Now all quality time with my family fits!
I help the organization, in which I work for, serve others, so time invested in my job fits.
As new opportunities arise I can ask myself, does this fit within my purpose of helping others, serve others? If it does, I can accept it without guilt or conflict, as it may just be another vehicle to live out an even bigger purpose.
So, what is your purpose and how does your role as a nonprofit director, or mentor, or volunteer, or parent fit in? What is currently taking up your time that isn't serving your purpose? If everything in your life is intentionally incorporated to fulfil this purpose then you never lose yourself, and you can be fully engaged in all aspects of your life. What an amazing concept to model for those we serve!