What can give you a sense of clear purpose and meaning in your daily work?

What force or vision is driving your career path?

The answer: a calling. But clarifying your sense of purpose is a journey, one upon which we are assaulted by myths—unhelpful frames that block us from the meaning for which we were made.

In this post we look to bust two myths that limit the application of the idea of our calling, reducing it only to a specific job or career. When we restrict calling we risk 1) writing ourselves out of the calling game and 2) making our lives all about work. Calling is bigger. Consider with me the points below.

Myth #6: Calling is Just About Work.

That Latin word for calling is vocatio from which we get the word vocation by which we refer to one’s paid employment, career focus or profession. In this vein, we tend to think that calling is solely about work. But this is another myth, one way our sense of calling gets truncated and spoiled. Calling is any investment of our time, capacities, and resources in activities that we are “supposed” to do.

Calling can be defined as the invitation and summons of God where we center on him amidst the activities and commitments of life.

Some of us are in a season where something besides work seems to be demanding most of our time. Giving a hurting friend our extra attention and energy, putting career advancement on hold for a mission project or church need, raising children or caring for an ailing parent. None of these pursuits are easy or career-related, yet for the season they count as what you’re supposed to do. They count as calling.

As Os Guinness writes in his insightful book, The Call, Jesus calls us to himself—that is the supreme calling, and then invites us to follow his agenda in every other sphere of life; these secondary callings (things like family, a faith community, work, and being a neighbor) flow from the primary one.

Reducing calling just to the “work” segment of life is a myth, an opposite yet equally damaging corollary to the false idea that only church work is work that matters to God. Expanding “calling” to include the other spheres of our lives allows us to freely invest in all segments with the same Godward purpose and confidence.

RELATED: 8 Myths That Can Ruin Your Sense of Calling (Part 2 of 4)

Myth #6:  Calling Is Only About the What of the Work.

A second limiting myth about calling focuses on the “what” of work. This is the question all of us, restless souls, want answered: “What work am I supposed to do?” But when it comes to God’s calling for our work, it is broader than just the specific job or career. Reducing our work to just the “what” is a myth that truncates the scope of God’s design for our work.

The Scriptures show us what we know intuitively:

  1. Who we do our work for is at least as important as what we do.
  2. How we do our job is also as least as important as what we do.

Could it be possible that motive and integrity are higher on God’s success metric than the actual job we do?

I realize this is not very exciting at first. But when you need to grind it out to make ends meet, this brings meaning to that work. If you are biding time to get your bearings, pay off some debt, or work through some relational issues, these are not wasted commitments or lost years. Isn’t it comforting to know that if you do your work for God with integrity, it’s just as much a calling as having a light flash from heaven telling you to do something “special.”

How About You?

What can you gain by expanding the application of calling beyond work to all of life, beyond the what of your work to the for whom and how?

Dr. Chip Roper is the President and Principal Consultant of The VOCA Center. VOCA’s vision is to make work better for individuals and teams by transforming secular jobs into sacred callings. Trained in Executive Coaching at Columbia University, Chip tackles the vocational challenge from 30 years of experience as a small businessman, a pastor, a career coach, and a business consultant.