This is the final post in the Anchors of Calling Series. COVID-19 may have changed your job. But the power of a God-shaped sense of vocation still provides the clarity you need to push forward with confidence and hope.
- In the first post, a multi-faceted sense of calling gives us the agility to find God’s purpose in the shifting demands of the post-Pandemic landscape.
- In the second post, a four-part grid provides a road map to meaning in our work after COVID, even if it is not the work we want to do.
- In this final post, we consider the question of how we decide what work to do.
Anchor #3: The Building Blocks of Vocational Calling
Our final anchor is composed of the building blocks of calling which we discuss in this post.
Some of our clients are aggressively looking for work. Some have decided to use this global pause to tighten up their sense of direction. And still, others want to know how they can bring their best self to their current employment.
Each of these scenarios is addressed in the following framework. There are four building blocks of a vocational calling: 1. Embrace a Gospel Identity, 2. Understand the Real You, 3. Be an Expert on the Real World and 4. Live with a keen sense of Gospel Destiny. We begin with 2 and 3.
Blocks two and three are where your work calling happens: the intersection of the Real You and the Real World. Both sides are always evolving, and the Real World just got a whole lot more complicated. When the Real You and the Real World connect, you get a job – someone pays you for the value you bring. Our clients who do well, are experts on both sides and are constantly looking for opportunities where there is a strong overlap.
On the Real You side, think of the following things:
- Your abilities, the types of things you’ve done well for as long as you can remember
- Your skills, the repeatable achievements, and outcomes you can prove with your resume
- Your passions, the subjects, industries, and tasks that garner your sustained interest and energy
- Your boundaries, the limitations, values, and constraints under which you will seek and stay in a job
Feedback from others, objective assessments and job performance results, and guided self-reflection all give you clarity on the Real You.
On the Real-World side, think of going on a mission as an investigative journalist trying to answer 3 questions:
- What actual jobs, careers, and industries are a good fit for the real me?
- What kind of opportunities are there in those jobs, careers, and industries that make it to the top of the list?
- What steps does a person like me need to take to land those jobs?
It is likely that the opportunity and step pieces are more critical in a world of massive furloughs and hiring freezes.
How do you resolve these questions? You interview people who know the answers. Plan on interviewing 50 to 100 people. That will force you to think creatively and ask for suggested contacts from your existing network. The answer to these questions is out in the work world, with the people who are out there working. You have to find them and ask their opinion.
All of us are negotiating the match between our Real Self and Real-World. This connection is where jobs take place. It requires negotiation because your real self is always evolving and the real-world is always changing. Most of us will need to take our knowledge of each side to a whole new level to navigate work after COVID. And that challenge brings us to the reassurance of blocks 1 and 4.
The Confidence Sandwich
The identity block and the destiny block form a confidence sandwich. These blocks steel us for the roller coaster ride of connecting blocks two and three.
Gospel identity is the first block. Most of us are constantly seduced into defining ourselves by our careers. Jesus’ close friend John reminded his readers that we are children of God, that is what we are (1 John 3:1-2). Others may not understand. But we have a secure sense of self, defined by our relationship with God not the ups and downs of our career.
As Tim Keller and others have said, you will not live in this reality unless you learn to preach the Gospel to yourself daily. We are so prone to think that we earn a good life with hard work, that we need constant reprogramming. Gospel identity is a solid sense of self that is received rather than achieved. This can give you freedom, peace, and confidence for the road ahead.
On the top side of the Confidence Sandwich, we find Gospel Destiny. What does the Gospel promise us regarding our future? Many things, of course. Our focus for this piece are Paul’s words to the Ephesians
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
God has good works for us to do. He has planned them in advance. Don’t mistakenly think that the phrase “good works” is a word for church or for doing random acts of kindness. Good works include those things, but more. Good works include your daily work, the place you go to make a living. God has prepared good work for you to do there.
Gospel Destiny takes the weight of responsibility off your shoulders. There is a caller and it is not you. God is the Caller. God has a plan for your work. He calls We listen for his voice We do what he tells us. We trust him for the ultimate outcome of our work and the direction of our careers.
The third anchor of calling are these four building blocks of vocational calling. Coronavirus doesn’t change ANY of this. If anything, these blocks are more important now than ever.
How About You?
- How well prepared are you to make the match between the Real You and the Real World? What side needs the most attention?
- How much does your career define your identity? What would it look like to replace this with Gospel identity?
- What promises are you holding on to for the future (spiritual, cultural, economic)? How does the Gospel Destiny shape your expectations?
- “There is a caller and it isn’t you.” How does this phrase bring you clarity and hope?
About the Author
Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is Founder and President of the VOCA Center. Under Chip’s leadership, the VOCA team rescues clients like you from the forces that rob them of effectiveness and joy at work. With over 30 years of executive responsibility and experience successfully navigating career change, Dr. Chip and his team at VOCA are well-positioned to be a resource to you and your team. VOCA provides coaching, training, and consulting to individuals and organizations in NYC and beyond. Visit our faith-based website at vocacenter.org and our market-facing menu of services at www.vocacenter.com.