I learned a lot while attending a Christian liberal arts college. One of the biggest things was that the millennial generation, their unique challenges notwithstanding, could change the world.
The first time I heard this I was inspired, but what started as inspiration began to build into anxiety. Words like “calling” and “vocation” sound great until you realize you don’t know yours. I felt like I had to figure out how I would change the world forever, how I would make my mark. But several years of walking in all sorts of wrong directions taught me a few things that are important to remember when you’re not sure what your calling is.
Discovering Our Calling takes Time
There is just no way around this. Patience and perseverance have to become defining attributes of our journey to find our calling. Sure, there are the people out there who knew they were going to be missionaries from the first time they saw a map (and even they have to wait and prepare), but for the vast majority of us, it takes more time.
Patience and perseverance have to become defining attributes of our journey to find our calling.
We have to learn new things, grow up, build community, work at Starbucks, drop out of Grad school or take our first graphic design class before we start to have an idea of what we want to do. We have to consider our talents and passions and seek out wisdom. And when we do start to figure it out, we may have to come to terms with the fact that our place in the process might look a little bit more like making someone’s day by brewing an incredible cup of coffee rather than revolutionizing the whole industry through fair-trade initiatives, (but more on that later).
Other People’s Callings Look Really Good
Sometimes we don’t want to take the time to figure out where we are specifically gifted. We want to change the world and do it now. So we let the pressure get to us and we look to other people’s callings for answers.
It’s like if you are walking through a crowd of people trying to figure out which direction you are supposed to be going: Rather than taking the time to stop, reflect, pray and figure it out, you just start wandering. Inevitably, you began bumping into people who know where they are going and are focused in that direction. Upon meeting them and hearing where and why they are going, you become so excited about their calling and idea that you assume that identity. You walk in that same direction, towards that same thing, and it feels good and right.
I can’t even tell you how many times I “knew” my life calling so assuredly only to figure out I just wasted months or years walking in the wrong direction. I was going to open up a one-of-a-kind music venue, I was going to plant a church, I was going to be in a band. None of these, though great things in and of themselves, were things to which I felt particularly drawn or areas in which I was especially gifted.
When we don’t take the appropriate time to find out what we love and what we are good at, we will just throw ourselves at exciting things for the wrong reasons. We will miss out on the real things we are meant to do and the people we are called to meet and influence. It might be great for a while, but it fades and we are left still wondering where we are called to go.
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