Perspectives: Why we should treat our work as a calling

OPINION – What’s the difference between a job and a vocation?

We tend to use these words interchangeably, but it’s the difference between asking, “what do you do?” versus, “who are you?” It’s like the distinction between a pile of ingredients and a fresh loaf of bread.

A job is simply a task that we perform for hire. But our vocation is based on a sense of calling, the pursuit of purpose or mission that is ours alone. One is performed for wages; the other includes making a difference through work for which we’re not paid.

Considering how much time most of us spend working each day, it may be wise to question why we do what we do. Is it all about attaining wealth and prestige? Or is there more to fulfillment than upward mobility?

Most would welcome shedding the stress of living paycheck to paycheck in order to enjoy a sense of well-being and contentment. We imagine ourselves traveling the world, enjoying the good life, surrounded by the symbols of affluence with no more financial worries.

It’s a tempting fantasy, yet many of us still choose to live our lives clinging to what we hope is a secure job just to keep those paychecks coming.

Understanding the difference between a job and our vocation might prompt us to do something more with the time we spend working. After all, who wants to look back over their life only to realize that their job never actually produced real abundance?

Robert Novak’s book Business as Calling, bravely offers the idea that each of us are born into this world with a specific calling by which we can make a difference. Each calling is as unique as the person to whom it comes.

Certain innate abilities, gifts or talents are required to attain the calling. This purpose must bring a personal sense of joy and accomplishment to the person doing it. And finally, and perhaps most important, it requires effort, searching and introspection to discover one’s true calling.

Interestingly, both believers and non-believers alike attest to finding a very real sense of purpose and enjoyment when they labor in something that brings them joy and accomplishment. This is true even when the work is sometimes difficult and tedious.

Often it takes a few false starts to discover this path, but once we determine the true direction of our internal compass, we find that the universe aligns with us and our efforts begin to produce exponential results.

One of Novak’s crucial points is that by seeking to achieve in this manner, we become “involved in bringing the Creator’s work to its fulfillment.” This means that we can use our calling for the lasting benefit of others, economically and otherwise.

When we examine the lives of individuals who have achieved true greatness, a common thread is that each became part of something greater than themselves in order to create lasting value within their sphere of influence. Those who consciously partner with their Creator find that their sphere of influence is greatly enlarged because of the synergistic nature of the combined effort.

Prosperity is a worthy goal but loses its luster when the sole reason for becoming so is based on fulfilling selfish desires alone.  Pursuing a calling that allows us to create value while lifting those around us can even be viewed as a modern application of the adage, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

When the work we do is coupled with this personal sense of purpose, we become more than just another teacher, doctor, or builder. We become liberators, healers, and creators.

Our impact on the world is no longer measured by mere financial figures, but by how we’ve found and used our gifts in the service of others.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • SunnyInUtah March 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I often feel as though I am providing a service not just “doing my job” because I go the extra mile and think outside the box. You can make your work experience as fun or boring as you like I prefer to have a little fun in my work and it shows with my clients. Willing to take the time and really understand a client or patron, listen to what they are saying really does make a difference. I find at times when I go to a store and a sales professional asks me if I need assistance,they really dont care if I do or not they are just obligated to ask that question. It shows and speaks in volumes to those that are listening. I even went as far as responding to that question with ” only if you have the time” it was funny to me the response I got. I respected their time and in turn they respected mine. They did end up helping me a lot and I could tell that they felt good about it. Unless you land into a pile of millions of dollars you have to work, why not have a little fun and make it a mission of goodwill?

  • Curtis March 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t disagree with the idealism in Bryan’s column; however, many people do fell obligated to sacrifice their calling for a larger paycheck in order to properly support their families.

    That does not mean they can’t be healers, liberators and creators. They just do it outside the work environment — volunteer in scouting, big brothers/big sisters, at the hospital, soup kitchens, teaching adults to read or a dozen other things.

  • My Evil Twin March 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Now this is great, in theory, and it should be able to be put into practice. And for those people who actually are in some type of job where a bit of initiative is appreciated, it can and should be done. But I’m afraid that way too many of us, work in a job where either the entire company, or at least the immediate supervisor, feels that if someone shows initiative, they become a “threat.” It is sad really, because the employer, or supervisor, can be made to look really good, by the employee. If they will just relax a bit and give them a bit of encouragement. Way too many employers take the attitude of, “I will do the thinking, you just do the work.”

  • SunnyInUtah March 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    MET, you are so right! those employers may be surprised at just how productive an employee can be without that leash around their neck 🙂

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