On a recent crisp fall morning, I had the rare opportunity for a weekday breakfast at a local restaurant. As I sat down with my coffee, I noticed a large group encircled around tables pushed together. I was the only other guest on the patio, so I could not help but overhear their conversation. It became obvious that they were younger retirees who gather regularly for breakfast at this restaurant. When one of the gentlemen stood up to leave, a friend called out, “You are leaving? Where do you have to go? You are retired!”
As I left that morning, the scene and the words the woman spoke reverberated in my mind. I think, sometimes, especially those of us who have been in the workplace for a long time, fantasize about such mornings and gatherings—days when we can sip coffee at our leisure and have no place to go. I don’t. Please understand; I will retire from my job, but I will pursue my calling all the days of my life.
Christine Caine, founder of A21 Campaign and PropelWomen, recently made the comment during a Sunday morning message, “What are you going to do—retire and play golf? Really? As long as we are breathing, God has placed us on this earth for a purpose.”
Many years ago, I found my calling was to help others find their calling. I have hope that I can use my journey as a roadmap for others trying to find their way. Perhaps, by studying the path I took, someone else could avoid pitfalls and stumbles along theirs and maybe glean an idea or two to help them along the way.
How do you discover your calling?
- It’s the thing that gets you up in the morning. It resonates not just in your heart and mind, but sizzles in your soul. For me, it’s the excitement I get as I think about both developing the people who work for me and seeing them achieve their goals and dreams.
- It’s what others tell you that you do best. A calling draws upon your greatest gifts and deepest talents. I have a friend that some would call a house painter. However, I call him an artist. He does not just paint a house; he envisions the combination of colors and how the rollers and brushes will blend the colors to create just the right dimension of texture. When weather or product defect creates the slightest imperfection, he is quick to correct it.
- A calling is the way you use your energy that makes an impact on the world, or at least your part of the world. A friend of mine loved the experiences she had as a young girl at youth camp. She not only enjoyed all the activities of camp, but understood the impact camp had on developing her confidence and faith. She chose to go halfway around the world and start a similar camp for children in Africa. Now, fifteen years into the adventure, the camp has expanded to include team-building adventure experiences, climbing expeditions and team consulting to strengthen organizations. Her business has given her exposure to leaders from all over Africa and the Middle East and she is having a significant impact on people, all the while using her natural gifts.
- It’s the moment and the activity in which you feel God’s pleasure. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you are doing what you were made to do. As portrayed in the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Olympic runner and 400-m3534 champion Eric Liddell described it like this: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Unlike a job, which is for a season, a calling will beckon us for a lifetime. It creates an inner drive and restlessness when we live outside of it and peace when we are embracing it and living inside of it. A job is printed on your résumé. A calling echoes in your epitaph.
Dee Ann Turner currently serves as Vice President, Corporate Talent at Chick-fil-A. Her passion for people shows itself both at work and on the mission field, where she seeks individual connection and opportunities to serve. Dee Ann, her husband, and their three sons can often be found under the glow of the Friday-night lights, and on Saturdays watching the Bulldogs between the hedges.
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