I’m being forced out of my “calling”

Here is an all-too-common question:

Dan, I’ve been with my company (a non-profit ministry) for 10.5 years, and found out yesterday my department is being outsourced. I’ve been offered a position in another department, but at a 22% pay decrease. We can’t afford the pay decrease, but I don’t want to walk away from my calling in ministry.  What do you suggest that I do? Thank you!

I suggest you get another job – pronto.

You’re confusing the terms “calling,” “career” and “job.”

“Calling” is the big picture — it’s what you’re doing in life that makes a difference for you, that builds meaning for you, and that you can look back on in your later years to see the impact you’ve made on the world.   Everyone has a “vocation,” a “calling.”   We fulfill our calling by being excellent at whatever God created us to be.  Everything you do ought to be part of fulfilling your vocation.  Your job will ideally be one part of that, but at times may not be directly related to it.

A “career” is a line of work and ideally will be part of fulfilling ones’ calling.  A “job” is the most specific and immediate of the three terms.  It has to do with one’s daily activities that produce income or a paycheck.  The dictionary defines “job” as “a lump portion, a task, chore or duty.”  In today’s rapidly changing workplace, the average job is 3.2 years in length, meaning the average person just entering the workplace will have 14-16 different jobs in his/her working lifetime.  Thus the job surely cannot be the critical definition of one’s vocation or calling.  Changing a job should never change your calling.  Losing your job – or being forced out with a pay decrease – will not change your calling.  You’ve simply been in one job that apparently did fit with your calling.

If you’ve been working for a non-profit ministry I suspect your previous pay was not that great.  Taking a 22% cut may be realistic for that organization but it doesn’t mean you have to stay there.  Don’t confuse having a heart for ministry with feeling trapped in a particular job.  You can continue in ministry in one of thousands of other opportunities.  You aren’t letting God down – God doesn’t trap us in unfulfilling positions – we do that to ourselves.

48 Days To the Work You Love

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