Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Is Your Calling?

For the past three days, I've been interviewing candidates for the ordained ministry. One of the things I carefully listened for is a sense of being called to the ordained ministry. I heard a variety of "call" stories, ranging from those who heard an audible voice to those who felt a gravitational pull to ministry.

From a spiritual viewpoint, there is a belief that our life-work can choose us. This work-that-chooses-us is captured in the concept of vocation. The Latin root of vocation is vocare, which means “to call.” A vocation is a calling, a calling not to a job but to one’s life-work. The “voices” that call us to our life-work can come from outside of us and from inside as well.

What are these “voices”? There are the voices of our parents who let us know, subtly or overtly, what they think we should do with our lives. There is the internal voice of reason that enables us to evaluate our strengths and match them with a likely career. There is the voice of emotion that lets us know whether the work we are doing brings us joy and gladness. There is also the voice of our society telling us, “Choose a career in which you’ll make the most money.”

Deciding which voice we listen to and obey makes a huge difference in finding the right vocation. In his sermon, “The Calling of Voices,” Frederick Buechner writes,

"The world is full of people who seem to have listened to the wrong voice and are now engaged in life-work in which they find no pleasure or purpose and who run the risk of suddenly realizing someday that they have spent the only years that they are ever going to get in this world doing something which could not matter less to themselves or to anyone else."

Among the many voices that beckon us to one vocation or another is the voice of our soul. This inner voice comes from our deepest self and is, perhaps, the most important voice to listen to when it comes to our life-work. How do we listen to this voice? I'll try to answer in tomorrow's blog.

1 comment:

  1. Inner voices are indeed tricky to interpret. The buddha would likely say that "all forms of voices heard are illusion, products of mind."

    None the less, we still respond to the one we feel most aligned with, or drawn to.

    The lesson of the Buddha being that through understanding ourselves we can be more aware of to what we are reacting to.