A friend recently asked a question in a community I’m a part of: when and how did I know the career/dream I’m pursuing is my calling? This was my response:
“I think that finding a career you love is often a result of seeking God, actually pursuing and working in that career, and discovering the joys of it. There wasn’t really a moment when I realized “Academic Librarianship: that’s my calling!”. I *did* learn a lot about it before pursuing it, and figured out that it fit with a lot of my interests and talents. But my love and passion for it came from being a part of it; it came *after* prayerfully choosing it.
Honestly, I think it’s possible to find joy in any field, and have it become a passion with dedication. Of course some fields fit certain people better than others – but even when I was working as a Sales Associate at OfficeMax (not my ideal field), it was still possible for me to find joy in that; and I believe that serving people in that position did become my calling for those 2 years of my life. That’s where God placed me at that time, and I became passionate about it while I was there. That calling then prepared me for other callings, which prepared me for where I am now.
I’ve of course had dreams at various times in my life that have not happened – being a professional upright bassist, going back to CZ as a missionary, opening a tea shop. These are things that I did feel a calling for, and I still have a place in my heart for each of them – maybe they’ll happen someday, maybe they won’t. In the end, with much prayer, I made the choice to pursue other things instead, at least at this time – and I fully believe I am where God wants me right now, even though perhaps I’m not “pursuing my dreams”. I am confident that God’s plan is greater than any of my own dreams. I believe that wherever He has me at each moment of my life – which city, which field, which community – *is* my calling. And, I will constantly strive to discover the wonder and joy that exists within that calling, and thus develop a passion for it.”
Really, what all of this comes down to is listening to Christ and following Him. My choice of career came through lots of thought, but also lots of prayer. My choice to not pursue music, embark on international missions, or start a tea shop at this time in my life also came through much prayer. Even though I still have these dreams, I do not want to pursue them if God is not in them. If and when He calls me to them, then I will pursue them. In the meantime, I want to always listen to Him and make every decision based on His will for my life. I know that wherever He leads me now will prepare me for His future plans and my future callings.
Now, I’d like to expand on this a little further, and give an example. In addition to my smaller personal dreams, some of which I mentioned, there are other greater dreams I have that I do believe are directly from God. One main one, is my dream to raise a family. Since I was little, getting married and raising a family has been one of my primary callings. This is a dream that has not yet come to pass – but I do still believe I am called to this; just, in God’s timing and way. Some people, when discovering where I am in my career, state that I must be incredibly dedicated to my work to be where I am at my age. However, it’s not my call to my work that was my motivation (even though I love my work and believe I can and should be worshipping God through it daily) – rather, it’s primarily been my motivation to raise and support a family that has given me the drive to work extra hard in my career.
Through my work, I am preparing for what I believe is my future calling – even though it may be far in the future. And, because working at MNU in Olathe, KS is where God has placed me at this time, this is my present calling – and I take great joy in it, knowing that not only is this good, but that it is preparing me for something even better. Someday, if I do get married and start a family, that calling will be fulfilled – and at the same time, that and the rest of my life will continually prepare me for something even better still: an eternity with Christ.
My main point is, that I don’t believe God gives us one singular calling in our lives that He wants us to achieve right away. I believe He often calls us to small things first, in preparation for greater things. He often asks us to give up our dreams in the process, so that we will look to Him first. The whole point is for us to listen to Him, trust Him, and follow Him, above all else – and when we do, He will lead us down the best paths for us. I have no doubt that if I fix my eyes on Him and follow wherever He leads, that He will fulfill every true calling and dream He’s placed on my heart. In the meantime, I need to recognize that where He’s placed me now is where I am called. Through this present calling, He will teach me, change me, and make me more like Him – in order to prepare me for future callings and the fulfillment of the dreams He’s given me.