Q. Why is it that some people accomplish a great deal in life while others with similar talent and ability waste themselves in dead end jobs, TV viewing, and shopping at the mall? My life falls between these two extremes as I do help out in some community groups and in my church. I wish I had pursued a more interesting career and that I had the courage to do something that would really make a difference in the world.
A. It’s never too late to pursue a dream. It’s never too late to pay attention to our inner self and what we are “called” to do. Our strongest, most persistent wishes or dreams are about God’s plan. Whether you see this as following God’s call for your life or being true to your authentic self it involves using your talents to create or do something of benefit to others. It involves having a vocation – not just a job. The world vocation means God’s call.
What stops us from pursuing our dreams? What keeps us from answering God’s call? Often we don’t want to put in the effort and time pursuing our dream will require. We don’t want to live a less affluent life, we don’t want to sacrifice. Nor do we want to take the risks involved.
Another reason we don’t pursue our dream is because we think we aren’t as capable as others. If you worry about having the talent to accomplish your dream, remind yourself that this is your calling. God calls us and then he equips us. Your talent will grow as you take the risk and exert the energy to accomplish it. If this is a “divinely inspired” project then God will give you what you need to accomplish it as long as you do your part. Your part is being willing and giving God your all.
Following our dreams involves risking. When we don’t take the risk we protect ourselves from both success and failure. Most of us play it safe in the way we live our lives. We bury our talents instead of using them. Or we spend our talent in a job that pays us very well but isn’t our dream vocation. Believe in your vision, work hard and take the risks involved.
Another road block we throw up is concern about what others will think. “You’re giving up a good job and going to college at age 41? Are you crazy?” To launch out in the direction of our dream means ignoring what others think or say and it requires listening to our God inspired desires and hopes. It means knowing God’s call and being true to it.
When you begin your new direction don’t tell others about it at first. Tell only those you must tell. Also, expect to receive negative comments from those you do tell, even from those closest to you. They will think their criticism of your plan is for your own good and because they care about you. But negative comments about God’s call on your life are really designed to keep things the same. Others do not want us to change as it forces a bit of change on them. Remain confident within yourself that this is what you are meant to do.
To understand God’s call further read my adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13 and the Beatitudes to vocation. I wrote these when I was in my twenties!
Vocation and I Corinthians 13
Though I speak the language of secretaries and stenographers, but have not love for my work, I am like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal simply attending to details with no joy in the doing.
And though I have the prophetic powers of a newspaper editor or understand all the mysteries and all the knowledge of a chemistry teacher or though I have the faith to be a minister able to remove mountains of secularism, but have not love for my work, I have not found my true vocation.
Though I give away all I hold dear to become a foreign missionary and though I sacrifice my entire life to live in a foreign land, but have not love for my work, I have not found my true vocation.
One’s true vocation is challenging and creative.
One’s true vocation makes use of talents and abilities to the full.
One’s true vocation helps to meet needs in the world.
One’s true vocation is not necessarily easy or well salaried.
Love for your work should never end; as for your talents and your abilities they should continually grow; as for your training on this you must work. For your abilities are imperfect and our training is imperfect but when one loves one’s work the imperfect is perfected.
When we were children we spoke as children, we thought as children, we reasoned as children saying we would be a fireman or a doctor or a teacher. But when we grow up we seek God’s will and our true vocation.
Vocation and the Beatitudes
Blessed is the one who chooses his vocation wisely, for he shall help build the
. Kingdom of God
Blessed is the one who chooses his vocation in terms of the needs of the world rather than the money it pays, for he shall find joy in serving.
Blessed is the one who evaluates his abilities and talents before choosing his vocation for he shall be well suited to his job.
Blessed is the one who adequately prepares himself for his life work for he shall do a more competent job.
Blessed is the one whose work is a joy and a delight for he shall be truly happy.
Blessed is the one who, having made a mistake in choosing his life work has the courage to find his vocation for he shall be satisfied.
Blessed is the one who seeks to discover the will of God for his life work, for he shall know the meaning of vocation.
Blessed are you when you carefully and prayerfully evaluate your capacities and interests before choosing your life work; when you diligently and purposefully prepare yourself for your chosen vocation; when you throw yourself unreservedly into your chosen work – to meet the challenges and the needs presented as best you can.
Rejoice and be exceeding glad for your life will be a meaningful adventure and God will be with you.