Your job and your vocation…your money or your life

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A friend of mine who was laid off from another newspaper in the last few months recently told me that after three or four weeks of downtime, he got rather bored and wished to return to work. Vacation, he said, was nice but not fulfilling.

Vocation is the centrifugal part of us all, so integral to who we are that it impacts every aspect of what we do.

“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.” ~ Sam Keen

A little time away from the rat race of work is nice. It is vacation. It is a chance to clear the mind and refresh the soul.

But anyone for whom their vocation is centrifugally tied into their being will shortly grow tired and restless at not being able to fulfill their purpose. 

This is where I find myself now. 

I love being able to spend entire days watching my daughter perfect her art work next to me at the dining room table and to make creative lunches to share with my wife. I love being able to pick the boys up from school and deliver them to their various sporting activities in the afternoons. Our conversations are alive and I feel more involved with their daily lives than I have in a long time. 

“The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” ~ Logan P. Smith

But they can sense something is wrong. They can sense the longing in me to return to my vocation. They ask me at dinner if I miss the ugliness of work, those instances where our most basic human issues rise to the surface and cloud our vocation with politicking, greed and envy.

No, I don’t miss those issues, but they are part of vocation if your vocation involves others. Mine certainly does. 

Somewhere along the way we choose what we want to do. Or sometimes we are chosen for what we can do. I have worked many jobs in my search for my true vocation. Each one points a finger toward your destination, but the complicated life sometimes interferes and clouds our ability to recognize it.

An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.” ~ Honore de Balzac

I loved construction and being out of doors and working hard with my hands, developing a strong mind and body. But I always knew it wasn’t my vocation. It was something I did to pay bills and pass from one time period into another. 

I was never sorry when I walked away from that into another job. That initial rush of excitement at doing something new can be deceptive too. Sometimes, in a really fun situation, it can last a long, long time. The arrows pointing to your vocation become difficult to discern. 

But when you stumble upon it, as I did in my late twenties, you know you have found what you’ve been looking for. Work is no longer work, it’s the satisfaction of your soul.

More often than not, people have told me they expect me to land on my feet. They’ve said they always knew I would be all right. They’ve wished me well and explained that my skill sets would serve me well in my search for new work. 

These people have not found their true vocation. In fact, I suspect that a majority of Americans who have jobs have jobs. I know many of those with whom I most recently worked have jobs and not a vocation. I suspect that is why it was easy for them to cut my position.

And for those who think it’s easy to let go of one thing and move into another, it might be easy if it was just a job. But a vocation is deep within you, and severing even the most surface links like a paycheck and benefits is a painful injury to one’s soul. 


One thought on “Your job and your vocation…your money or your life”

  1. What an excellent post, Tim. You are such a gifted — and perceptive — writer. Your observations are so spot on.

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