I remember the day my dad lost his job. He was pacing in front the house. Angry. Anxious. Confused. Kind of lost. He’d already switched careers once, going from building axles to vehicle processing. Now, he had to transition again. And he did.
Let’s face it. We are all going to have multiple careers in our lives. Some by choice, others because of lay-offs and closed companies. We won’t always be able to find work.
Sometimes we won’t be able to do what we want to do when we want to do it. Sometimes we will have to take risks. Sometimes we will falter. Sometimes we will fumble. Sometimes we will fail. Sometimes we won’t have clear goals for the future. Sometimes we won’t like our job. Sometimes we will want to move on. Sometimes we will want to stay at home. Sometimes we will want to go out into the world and make our own way.
It can be hard to navigate our careers in the current season of the global, and local, economy. But what if the point wasn’t having a career? What if we were meant to have multiple careers in one lifetime? What if instead of having one career, it was more important to own a clear vocation?
Vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio, which means “calling.” Various philosophers, theologians, and leaders the world over have turned to this word to describe the fire in the belly, the passionate heart, and the reason why bodies get up in the morning to do the work they feel called to do.
Each of us has a calling. Each of us has that one thing that we are angry about and want to fix or that one thing we are driven by and want to pursue. Each of us has our “why,” even if we have yet to discover it.
And while much in our culture tells us that what we do is what defines us, the truth of the matter is that what we love determines what we do. Our careers, our jobs, the way we earn an income or provide for ourselves and others can be a way that we pursue our callings, our vocations.
But our calling is so much bigger than one career. In fact, we can pursue our calling in every situation in life that is, by nature, helpful to others. No matter our career—no matter if we are a baker, a plumber, or a candle-stick maker (go on with your wax-shaping talented self!)—we can pursue our calling and love others through it.
Multi-careering is the new normal. In fact, we may just be meant to do many different things in our lives. Through it all, it is important that we keep in mind what matters most—our calling. Our “why.”
My dad showed me what this was all about. Like I said before, he did a lot of things for work in his time—from building axles to selling toilet paper (no…really). Through it all, he decided that no matter what he was doing for a living, he would seek to love others through it. He would always offer a handshake and a smile, a corny joke and a fair deal, to anyone he did business with.
Because it didn’t matter to him if it was a car being sold, a truck being put together, or a pallet of TP being bargained over. What mattered to him was his calling. The calling to love others no matter what. I can only hope I’ll discover the same in my multi-careering life. I hope the same for you.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!