How to Know Your Calling in Life
Perhaps the most common and fundamental question candidates have is: How can I know what God is calling me to do with my life? Of course, there is mystery involved here and one can never know for certain about one’s vocation; it is a matter of faith and trusting surrender to the Goodness of God. However, I can offer a principle that may be helpful: Vocation is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.
What do I mean by this? First of all that your vocation is not to be thought of as mere duty or obligation; nor is it to be considered as only a practical means to a desired goal or purely making a living; nor is it a matter of simply performing an objectively important office or role. A true vocation is something that you WANT to do, that you have a genuine desire and passion for. That doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be easy and pleasant, but that you have a genuine desire for it regardless of difficulties. For example a person with a calling to work with the poverty stricken may experience great challenges, but nevertheless feels the attraction to that life. A true calling is one in which one rejoices in the opportunity to do what one is doing, and in fact, would be disappointed if one could not do it.
Secondly however, though a true vocation elicits desire and joy, it is not self-serving; it reaches out to the world’s need. It reaches out beyond self to enrich the lives of others.
Since examples are able to convey a point better than abstractions, I take the unusual step of sharing a little about my own vocational call. When I first came in contact with monastic life, I immediately felt the desire for it. My thoughts were along the lines of: “You mean we get to sing God’s praise day and night, and devote our lives to cultivating our friendship with Jesus in a supporting community of brothers? Sign me up!” I can honestly say that being a monk gives me great joy and there is nothing I would rather do or be, even though it isn’t always easy and there are serious sacrifices involved.
At the same time, I feel that this life is a response to the world’s greatest need. In a materialistic, secular world in which God is often forgotten, I saw the need and opportunity to give the greatest witness I could, with my very life, that God is real and that a life dedicated to knowing and loving Him is eminently worthwhile.
So there you have it, vocation is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need. I hope that you find this idea a helpful tool as you discern and pursue your vocation in life.
Anyway, that is what we think. But what do you think?