If you’re new to these parts, you should know that I love talking about calling and direction. What is a calling? According to the googs, it’s, “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” In the spiritual context, we would typically think of a calling as something given to us by God—personally and corporately.
When I think of the word, I typically think in terms of my work. I’m sitting here writing these words to you because of a calling. Shortly after moving to the city (its own story of calling), I started writing. It wasn’t a conscious decision so much as a compulsion. There were too many thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head and my spirit. I needed to make sense of it all. So I started putting those words on paper in a formalized way. I started sharing those words, first with friends, then for anyone on the internet who stumbled across them. And now here I am.
My work is very important to me. Mayhaps that’s relatable to you. Or, mayhaps your work is more a matter of necessity than passion. Part of being a human person is navigating both what we want to do and what we must do. The process of discerning when to do which is perhaps a lifelong endeavor.
We’re living in a time when burnout is very common. You might even be in the midst of it yourself. As a person with a tendency to over-identify with my work, I’ve experienced it more times than I can count. Now that a lot of my work happens in my brain, it’s made the line between “work” and “not work” time hazy at best. If you’re still living that work-from-home life, you probably feel this, too.
Even outside the realm of work, “calling” can feel like work. Through my imagination filter, it always involves activity. Where am I called to serve? Who am I called to reach out to? What kind of person am I called to be and how can I work toward it?
So, in a time when everyone and their mother is burnt out, why talk about calling?
Calling happens to be the theme of the entire seventh season of my podcast. So, I’ve been thinking and talking about it a lot these past couple of months. The conversations have been refreshing, encouraging, and gently challenging.
Sometimes when I think about my calling, I am prone to think that it’s up to me to do all the work and make everything happen. Throughout the interviews, I was consistently reminded that God is our partner in our calling. And God’s metrics aren’t necessarily the same as mine.
To attach the word “calling” to something can add divine weight to a thing. It’s not just a thing I’m doing, it’s a thing I’m doing for THE LORD. What I forget is that God didn’t ask me to control things I can’t control. He didn’t ask me to work myself into the ground. In fact, there are plenty of times when God has called me to do less, to slow down, to stop. Perhaps burnout, as unfortunate as it is, is a God-given way for our bodies to accept what our minds will not—something is wrong and we cannot continue as we are. Perhaps, in that sense, there is a bit of grace in it. Perhaps there is an invitation in it.
It’s been helpful for me to be reminded of the fact that calling isn’t necessarily a big, grand thing that’s “out there” or waiting somewhere down the road. It’s an ongoing opportunity to invite God into what’s already going on both in and around me.
What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!