Work: Listening and Serving

By David Williamson.

This is the sixth and final post of a series.

Calling suggests a spiritual foundation. Workers who experience their work as a calling are happier, and perform at a higher level. Dik and Duffey’s book Make Your Job a Calling provides helpful guidance for that process and a very useful addition the process of finding a job that “fits.”

Calling it a “calling” suggests that it comes from God, the caller. God’s call can come through employer, spouse, customer or trusted friend. You can look at your work as merely a job, a career, or as a way of fulfilling your calling and providing a benefit to the public.

Calling recognizes that all work is sacred, that it comes from God the creator and original worker who created us to join him in the work of creating and maintaining God’s creation, and contributes to the “greater good” of all people. The inspiration for this comes from within.

Dik and Duffey identify “listening” as an essential element: Listening to God, and others, the people who benefit from your work. You have particular, unique interests and strengths, and it is important to listen to oneself, but also to others who benefit from your work – recipients, co-workers, your employer. This contributes to “making meaning” and provides tangible content to what you consider the “good life.” This will enable you to bring your faith to your work – usually subtly and carefully, but genuinely creatively – and encourage you to express your strengths.

I think of my dad, a career foundry man who found meaning by helping to create farm machinery that helped produce food. He helped feed our family, and provided employment for others who were able to provide for their families because of the reward (income) from their work.

Work serves others: Your work can make a difference to someone else (family, employer, the final recipient of the product). What would happen if your work didn’t happen? How does it connect to others?

We find this even in the most mundane or dirty and seemingly useless work, like sanitation, or mail delivery. I think not only of my dad, the foundry man, but my grandson. With a degree from a highly recognized college, he became a mail carrier and really enjoyed it, seeing it as a way to provide a much needed service to the households on his route.

“People who venture outside their own heads and think form other points of view have access to better, more creative ideas. Happiness, job satisfaction, productivity and creativity all have been identified as by-products of having he motivation to help others.” (p. 99)

Calling may be experienced and fulfilled outside of paid work. Life is more than career; we need to differentiate our work from our calling. We need to see how work enables the calling of God, but is not identical with that call (lest we idolize the work).

We need to remember and claim the stability and sustainability of God’s calling in any circumstance, including unemployment. Think how your present experience can serve you foundational sense of calling and ultimately enhance it. A job seeker can be an active agent in this experience of calling. Current hardship can clarify or enhance our sense of our calling.

I need to remind myself of this in my retirement years! What is permanent and what can I take forward into my present situation?

Followings this Calling process, journey is not easy, but it its very rewarding ultimately, both in the next job and in an overall sense of satisfaction, the meaning of the whole of life.

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