"I've been laid off from a job I never really liked. I'm 46 years old, and while I'm a little nervous about not having a paycheck, mostly I'm excited about having a chance to figure out what I really want to do with my life," Mary exclaimed.
Like many people, Mary expressed a deep desire to "find her calling." She longs to find a career that uses her gifts and gives her the opportunity to make a difference in some way. "Life's too short," she said, "to spend your time doing something that really doesn't matter." Mary has worked for years as an administrative assistant, and doesn't have a clear picture of what she would like to be doing; she just knows that she wants to do something "more creative" that "helps people in some meaningful way." She estimates that she can afford to be out of work about three months before she needs a paycheck coming in again. So what should Mary do?
Finding One's Calling for the "Next Step" in Life
Since she needs a new job within a few months, Mary realized that she should start her job search as soon as possible, given the challenges of today's job market. Her basic "game plan" is a good one: (1) find a job that's related to what she did before, but that has more of what she wants in a job; and then, (2) once she has a paycheck coming in, she'll spend time going through a more thorough career planning process to figure out what she really feels called to do long-term.
Mary gave herself a few days to figure out what type of work she would look for in her job search. She decided to work through the Career Master Planning stages in an abbreviated way:
Step 1: Assess Your God-Given Design: Mary spent time identifying the transferable skills she thinks are her most marketable skills (that is, skills that are desirable to prospective employers). She also thought about what being "more creative" means to her, and what that might look like in the workplace. Lastly, she made a list of how she might help people that would be personally meaningful to her.
Step 2: Explore Career Options: Mary spent some time using the O*NET database and other online resources to research jobs that were similar to what she had done and that used her most marketable skills.
Step 3: Make Decisions: Based on her self-assessment work and her career research, Mary decided that a good "next step" job target would be a Meeting/Administrative Assistant for a non-profit organization, helping to plan and organize special events. Working with special events would satisfy her creative side, while being a part of a non-profit organization with a mission she cared about would give her more of a sense of meaning in her work.
Step 4: Take Action: Now that she had a focus for her job search, Mary worked on developing a targeted resume for this type of work and began identifying non-profit agencies within her geographic area to contact. She felt energized in her job search because she realized that a job in this area would move her closer to what she wanted to do.
Discovering Your Calling is a Lifelong Journey
Change is the hallmark of today's workplace. Mergers, closures, and organizational retooling in response to economic and cultural changes in our world ensure that most people will have several jobs during their working years, either by choice or necessity. If you are at a point of needing to reorient and reposition yourself in the work world, realize that finding your calling is not a one-time event; it is a journey that is taken one step at a time.
If you are out of work like Mary, and need to make a relatively quick transition, you may not have the time to make a dramatic career change, but you can use the above steps to find something that fits you better than your previous job. Once you have a new job and can pay your bills, you then have the time to go through the Career Mastering Planning stages again at greater depth to determine what God is calling you to do next.
During your journey of discovering and living your calling, God will be in the business of transforming you into the person you need to be to do the work He has designed you to do. You are called to be "you," and He who calls you is at work within you. The truth is that "God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us" (Eph. 3:20, Msg). You are not alone-God is at work in you and in the circumstances surrounding you. Do your part to take the next step in pursuing your calling, and God will be faithful to do His part.
Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.
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