Today I’m going to deviate somewhat from my typical technical topics and talk instead about your job and your place in life.
But godliness with contentment is of great gain. -1 Timothy 6:6
My husband and I teach a class at our church, using the curriculum from an organization called Crown. This class is ostensibly about dealing with money God’s way, but the class is more fundamental than that; the Bible is clear that our attitude toward money and how we handle it is a deeper reflection of what we believe, and a reflection of our attitude toward God Himself.
I ran across this simple sentence this morning as I was going through this week’s lesson:
Biblical contentment is an inner peace that accepts what God has chosen for our present vocation and financial situation.
This stood out to me today because a professor of Information Technology at Calvin College (my alma mater) recently asked me to present a keynote address at a seminar he does for his graduating students, called Dynamic Link. The topic is going to be, “Vocation, calling, and getting a job.” Then this morning I saw that word again… vocation.
According to Merriam Webster, the word vocation derivates from the Latin word vocare, which means “to call”. So, literally, “vocation” is the “calling” on our life. For some of us, we have found a way to follow this “calling” in our professional life. For others of us, we simply “have a job” but are still looking for that thing that we can do with our lives that satisfies that deep gravitational pull we feel towards something.
I think there are some times where we all can feel a little “vocation envy” for others. I know I do. I remember running a 5K race about 10 years ago. I kept seeing all these people pass me by and I felt like I must be a real turtle. The competitive part of me didn’t want to be left behind so I ran a faster pace than I should have, and I ended up burning out just a couple miles into the race. I had to walk the last mile or so. After I crossed the finish line, I discovered there were many, many people who finished after me, still trickling across the finish line a good 10, even 20 minutes after I did. I hadn’t realized that I was just seeing the few people who passed me and didn’t know that I was already so far ahead of so many people.
I think professionally I can do the same thing. I won’t lie… I get jealous of those folks whose whole job is just to travel around and speak at conferences and “network” with friends. I enjoy doing all those things, but fundamentally I’m a consultant and I only get paid when I’m doing billable work for clients. I speak at SharePoint events because I enjoy it, but it’s not the activity that puts bread on my particular table. But I sometimes have to stop and realize that contentment means realizing all the good things God has already done for me, that I didn’t always have. My daughter just turned one; do I really want to be travelling to a different conference each month for a week at a time? I don’t think so! Has God blessed me tremendously with clients that are local to where I live? Yes! More fundamentally, are there people whom God has placed in my life, in my workplace, on whom I should strive to have a positive impact? God has placed me in my particular station in life for a particular reason, and the quicker I can embrace that, instead of daydreaming about how good others must have it, the more contented I will be.
I recently saw a quote by Senator Dan Coates that I liked:
Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization. The only testing ground for the heroic is the mundane. The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private. Habit is the daily battleground of character.
Jesus said it another way:
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
If we want God to propel us to the next level of our vocation, we need to make an effort to be the kind of people now who God can find trustworthy later.