Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I'm Applying

There are some spiritual truths which I have learned, per se, but which I haven't learned to apply. The following paragraphs come from "The Call":
Midlife crises that are genuine and not simply fashionable are generally due to the tensions between three very different desires: for successful careers, for satisfying work, and for rich personal lives. Early in life the differences between our personal lives and our work may not be marked or obvious. But as life goes on, and especially if success in one sphere is not complemented by success in the other, a yawning chasm will open that leads to deep frustration. Sadly, studies show, a few people enjoy neither their work nor their personal lives; more enjoy their work but not their personal lives; only a few say they enjoy both.

Crises created by a contradiction between successful careers and satisfying work are even more fateful. For when we set out in youth and choose careers for external reasons - such as the lure of the salary, the prestige of the position, or pressure from parents and peers - we are setting ourselves up for frustration later in life if the work does not equally suit us for internal reasons, namely our giftedness and calling. "Success" may then flatter us on the outside as "significance" eludes us from the inside.
I wrestle with this a lot. Theoretically, I want work that is satisfying, fulfilling and significant in my own eyes. Practically, I don't really know what satisfying work would look like for me. What am I gifted for? What am I called to? I usually default to applying for jobs I'm qualified for, which haven't had the significance I'm looking for. Another problem is that I panic if I'm not able to contribute to my savings on a regular basis, to say nothing of actually having to spend those savings.

Speaking of money, another quote from The Call:
Second, and more practically, calling introduces into society a different style of operating that directly counters the market mentality. We do what we do in life because we are called to it, not because we get paid for it.

Contrary to the ways of commerce, calling means that life is lived for God's sake or for it's own sake under God. Intrinsic satisfaction outweighs external rewards such as pay, advancement, and external recognition.
That I need to try to live out. Thus far, it has not been easy and I haven't had much success. Little by little, though, the picture is becoming clearer. I want to be in a position to listen to people, understand them, and encourage them. I want to help people. I want to teach people. I want to strive, with close friends and colleagues, for some common good. It's hard to know what I was made to do. For now I can be faithful and patient.

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