When we talk about living your calling, it’s possible to get the impression it’s a joy ride where everything about your personality, gifts, talents, interests and motivations neatly falls into place and every day is this amazing energy-filled work of art that you love. Sorry to burst the bubble, but your calling will probably require sacrifice.
1. Calling takes us in one direction and excludes others.
In business, we use the term “opportunity cost” to put a price on pursuing one direction instead of another. In other words, what is the cost of making a decision to do A that excludes being able to do B?
In following your calling, opportunity cost is something you need to think about. The sacrifices may be small, like not getting to take a nap because you need to write a blog post or they may be large, requiring radical changes to the way you live, like those called to serve oversees with non-profit organizations. You have to be aware and accept that pursuing a course like that will include costs like missing out on family events, or setting aside your career track.
2. Calling requires personal growth because it asks us to live out our stories and become who we were meant to be.
Our callings won’t take us all to third world countries but they will take all of us on a journey of personal growth. And growing is unfortunately usually painful. As we all know from the hundreds of movies we’ve seen, no hero gains victory or achieves his quest without a lot of problems, obstacles, and personal sacrifices first. In fact, usually the only way we really do learn life lessons and become better human beings is through trials. Suffering takes humans through a refining process. If you want to follow your calling, you will have to sacrifice the security of your comfort zone. You’ll be stretched in new areas. In order to grow, we may need to sacrifice old perceptions or beliefs and our desire for independence and control.
3. Calling requires hard work.
You could even call it labor! Os Guinness write in The Call, that our everyday work is transformed by calling but, “it is simply ludicrous to pretend that all our work is exciting, fulfilling and profitable.” Doing the real work behind the vision isn’t necessarily a breeze. You’ll be asked to make sacrifices of your time and your energy. Thomas Edison’s quote on opportunity applies here as well, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
The sacrifices our callings ask us to make may seem like too much, but avoiding your calling can actually lead to greater pain. Don Miller writes in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that, “People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. Joy costs pain.”
It may be scary but it’s the only life worth living. If we refuse to make necessary sacrifices, we may end up refusing to really live.
How willing are we to give up the good life in order to pursue the best life?