August 1, 2011
Allow me to make a self-disclosure: I’m a pull-out packrat. Articles that catch my attention – in newspapers and magazines – are routinely ripped from the publication. I don’t have files; I have piles. They don’t congregate in an orderly alphabetized system; instead, they become my personal driftwood.
I have an article that is yellowed, pulled from a business section in SoCal that tells the story of a young salesman named Jason Evans. He’s good at getting business; his personalized license plate: “I CLOSE.” He’s so good that he “graduated” from making deals to making dealmakers.
His reasoning for starting his training company was interesting: “Ultimately, for me, it was not a choice to go into business; it was a calling. I really have found what I am good at and love to do.”
In his book, The Money or Your Life (Tandem Press), New Zealand lawyer John Clark counsels modern marketplace grinders to consider sacking their career in favor of their calling. He writes, “Everyone has a calling. That includes you. It’s out there waiting for you…” Sounds intriguing. I wonder: Do I have a calling? Do you?
Clark continues, “These days the word ‘calling’ has a rather quaint ring. As with its synonym ‘vocation,’ its popular usage is largely confined to religious, artistic or extremely public-spirited types… The distinction is nonsense. A calling is simply something you are called to do. Called by whom or what? Called by yourself, from deep within… Not only are you entitled to pursue this calling, you have a duty to do so. And it is this duty, with its biological source, that we turn to consider…” A duty to whom?
In the timeless search for meaning, modern people still use the historic vocabulary, devoid of some essential ingredients that give it substance. That’s the problem with this notion of calling. Our Kiwi friend calls the God-idea quaint; I consider it essential. He claims that it’s our genes calling; for the last 2000 years, the understanding has been that it is God calling.
Evans – the Closer – celebrates the fact that he has found the confluence of his innate unique abilities and his passions. He’s good at it, and it feels good. Is that evidence of a divine calling to sales?
More likely, it’s evidence of a good career choice! Everywhere we turn today, it seems someone is grousing about how under-energized they are in their work. The fix for that kind of career-misalignment is to do the inventory of savvy and satisfaction… and replant your work in the place where they come together! Life is too short – and money is way-too secondary – to spend the best part of your days doing something that doesn’t fit your profile! But, is that really what “calling” is about?
The classic understanding of the term springs from biblical truth, not popular culture. For trendy 21st Century professionals to take the energizing, divine reality out of the concept of calling is felonious.
God is not silent; in fact, he calls frequently; and, unfortunately, His calls often go unanswered. His are not nuisance solicitations at dinner time. Why does He call?
First, He calls people who don’t know him, to see if they would like to be included among his extended family (Romans 8:28-30). Those who return the call and say “yes” get another call: they are invited to begin a long-term transformation, into the “image of Christ.” (II Timothy 1:8-9). For the folks who enroll in that life-changing program, He calls again, with orders to be the best they can be, in all that they are doing (I Corinthians 7:17-24). For the people who have taken Him seriously, He calls again, with news about a special assignment – beyond the temporary scope of “career” – that will serve eternity (Acts 13:2). That’s what this “calling” stuff is all about. His calls are always the best.
You’re clear about your career; are you similarly certain about your calling?