“The two most important days in your life are
the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
~ Mark Twain
About 2 years into my work spearheading a career education ministry at my church, Dare to Work, I stumbled on to a true gem.
- Parker J. Palmer, in his book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (Jossey-Bass Inc., 2000), offers some great insight into how people typically go about choosing their career path.
In three poignant excerpts from the second Chapter (Now I Become Myself, pg. 9 -22), you will get a good sense of Palmer’s insight on career selection and ‘vocation’. I shared these three Palmer book excerpts on the Ministry’s website in the Fall of 2011. I decided to share it on this blog today.
1 – He sees vocation not as a “goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received.” He goes on to state
“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.
It is a strange gift, this birthright gift of self. Accepting it turns out to be even more demanding than attempting to become someone else!”
2 – Palmer states later in the Chapter:
“The deepest vocational question is not “What ought I to do with my life?” It is the more elemental and demanding “Who am I? What is my nature?“
Everything in the universe has a nature, which means limits as well as potentials.”
3 – He believes that:
“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks — we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”
Your life purpose, your Identity
As I first read Palmer’s book years ago, I kept thinking how it might help God-fearing Christians get a better grip on ‘why they were born’, their purpose in life, & their Career Planning.
- Too many have their ENTIRE identity tied to professions which don’t serve them, their families, or the Lord well. When they lose their job, or retire, it feels like a part of them has died. However, unlike a death which ends in a God-blessed trip to Heaven, due to their Salvation, all kinds of demons can rear their ugly heads!
- You may have a ‘great job’ (in the eyes of others), but do you have a great sense of who you really are too? It’s more important, I’ve venture to say, to have a firm hold on your true Identity than to hold a ‘great job’. If you lose the latter, you will not be mired in a ‘dark Valley’ – fighting demons on both sides!
What’s Your Life Saying to You?
- As a Christian, growing into your “authentic self hood” means having a close relationship with God.
- As a Christian, your ‘nature’ should have trusting the Lord at the foundation. He’s your ‘living water’, not a mere Tic Tac. You know you couldn’t live without him!
- As a Christian, your acceptance of “the treasure of true self” involves Palmer states: “calling [you] to be the person [you were] born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given [to you] at birth by God.”
- As a Christian, I’d add to Twain’s “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”, a 3rd important day: The Day a Christian decides to fully accept Jesus Christ as their Lord, as the keeper of their soul!
If you’re an abiding Christian, your purpose in life, your creation, your continued ‘abundant living’, and your eventual Salvation rest on that third day. So, what is your life saying to you today?
Grace, mercy, and peace to You.