Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


What Is My Calling?

What we do matters. We can ask ourselves what we would do with our time if we had no particular constraints. The pursuit of pleasures in a self-indulgent lifestyle would soon leave us empty and dissatisfied. We would start looking for a productive way to be of service to others, to society. We would seek a way of serving that corresponds to our own unique talents and propensities, a way that engages the whole of ourselves, a way that calls to us. We would look for work that we love.

The first difficulty confronting us lies in not understanding ourselves well enough to know our calling. To help in this we can contemplate our past to see what themes recur, what we hold to be important, how we act and respond, what we dream of doing, what education, training, skills, and hobbies we have. We might engage a career counselor. From all this, a direction may emerge.

The second difficulty arises from the obvious and mundane fact that most of us must work for the necessities of life, to support ourselves and our family. This constraint apparently limits us in reaching toward our calling. We have a job or career, with little time or energy left to discover or pursue our calling. But it need not be that way.

One approach is to transform our attitude toward our job to make it into a calling. Every job has some aspect of service. Someone pays us to do this job. What we do somehow benefits those who pay: the organization we work for and its customers. If we can focus on this service goal and bring our wholehearted best to it, this job can be our calling. Then not just money, but also the heart-fulfillment of providing the useful can flow from our labor.

If we cannot transform our attitude toward our job, then perhaps clarity about our calling will suggest another job or career to us. To be able to earn our living doing something we love that provides real service to others is a formula for a meaningful life. So we resolutely and responsibly take the steps necessary to create that situation, to create our calling in our life.

Whether or not we can transform our job, we can look to bring more meaning into the rest of our time. If we have a family, then being a conscientious and loving parent can be our calling. We can pursue our calling in our spare time: the weekend musician, the part-time feeder of the homeless, the summer evening gardener.

You might ask why this section on career counseling should appear in a work about soul and spirit. Some jobs can be so draining and deadening that they sap our spiritual possibilities. Finding your calling can bring a renewed energy to your life, an energy that spills over into your inner work. And to reiterate the first sentence: what we do matters. The spiritual path is not only about inner work. Your calling can harmonize your outer life with your inner life, fusing them in a life of spirit, service, meaning, and fulfillment, bringing you toward your true purpose, toward a right relationship with the Divine Purpose.


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