Sunday, January 22, 2006

Vocation, All I Ever Wanted

I'm not a happy camper at my job.

That thought has been percolating in my head for awhile, now, but I've kept it nicely supressed until this weekend.

Someone once told me that if your first thought upon awakening Monday morning is "Good God -- morning," instead of "Good morning, God" -- you've got problems. I think I've got problems.

I came of age at a time when academic advisors and career counselors all operated under the principle that I'll call A Beam of Light From Heaven -- that you must educate yourself for and train for and interview for one narrowly-defined career area, or else noone will take you seriously as an employable person. Imagine my distress when, after several years of college, the Beam of Light never appeared. It did for my friends; the roommate who was born to be an accountant; my best friend the audiologist; the buddy who was absolutely geeked to be a doctor. I never felt that compelling longing. And that panicked me. What window of opportunity had I missed to somehow find this vocation that I had been, according to all accounts, meant for?

As my life progressed, I learned to make peace with my generalist's fate. As the economy changed, I even felt somewhat fortunate in not being too boxed in vocationally; there's something to be said for being flexible and a quick study. One of the best books on job-hunting I've ever read, Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt, even made what is the bold suggestion in the vocational-counseling genre -- that sometimes a job is just a job that helps finance the real, non-paying vocation(s) of your heart. That made me feel validated. And if you like the "just a job," that does work.

But "just a job" can also kill you by degrees, no matter how generous the pay and benefits.

So...what do I really want to be when I grow up? I don't know.

17 comments:

Connie said...

First of all, don't grow up. That's my best advice.

Second, have you read Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak? It offers no magic bullet, but it does give some support for the journey, and in particular, I'm intrigued by his description of corporate (i.e., community, not organizational) discernment. Maybe you could convene a committee? Of bloggers, lol?

I struggle with this question too. Blessings go with you.

Rainbow Pastor said...

LC, I'm on my third "career." Took me approximately half my life (assuming I get to be 80) to figure it out (or to finally pay attention to God pounding me on the head).

It isn't always clear, it isn't always obvious, and it isn't always a paying job...:(

Hang in there, don't grow up, and beleive!

Blessings
RP

Songbird said...

Well, I've been wondering why you aren't in seminary...
but seriously, you have obvious gifts for bringing scripture into context, in ways that are both illuminating and challenging. You're already sharing those gifts with us; would you like to do more?

Joyfulsoul said...

LutheranChik, forgive my presumption, but you are a fantastic writer. You write clearly, creatively, and inspiringly. I greatly appreciate your spiritual insights and sincerity. If your blog was a book of essays, I'd buy it. God has blessed you with many talents and maybe that makes it hard to find what *you* really want to do.

Personally, I have no clue what I want to do either...so I probably should stop talking now.

P. Softly said...

My hubby read three books on calling, attended a conference on Callings, and changed jobs after too many years at a job that served people but wore him out. Don't wait "too many years."

cheesehead said...

Ah, restlessness, I remember thee.

Mine came right before I was whacked on the the head with a cosmic 2X4 and ended up going to seminary.

I'm just sayin'...

PerkyEars said...

What Joyfulsoul said. :)

I'm struggling with this too. I've been doing 'just a job' for several years now. I thought I had a vocation, but it went horribly wrong and I've been sulking ever since. I'm not sure 'just a job' is really working for me though...

Anonymous said...

I was just a generalist too -- until I discovered the perfect profession for a generalist with a love of learning and knowledge... now I'm a reference librarian & I love it! (You do need a Master's but there are some library schools that now offer it through online distance education.)

LutheranChik said...

Seminary is problematic just because I'm in a caretaker situation that I assume is going to become more intensive as time goes on...so I can't just load up the truck and move to Columbus or Chicago or elsewhere. And I'm not sure that I am willing to put up being a church employee anyway, the way things are. (The lay ministry program I'm in generally does not lead to a paid position, although every occasionally it does.) Perpetual Student sounds like fun, but it doesn't pay well, LOL. Unfortunately Lutheran monasticism is almost a contradiction in terms, and I think they prefer younger blood there anyway. I've thought of produce manager at the local supermarket; I'm pretty conscientious about produce. I know someone who segued from a DD caseworker at a Community Mental Health office to a greenhouse worker/landscaper -- never looked back; is having a lot of fun. But she's in a two-income home, so she doesn't have to live on what she makes.

Lutheran Zephyr said...

A book recomendation - "Listen, God is Calling! Luther Speaks of Vocation, Faith and Work" by D. Michael Bennethum, in Augsburg Fortress' Lutheran Voices series. It is a wonderful book about finding a sense of calling in your daily work - no matter how ordinary or extraordinary it might be. And it is chock full of Luther . . .

Blessings to you.

cheesehead said...

Oh LC, I wasn't trying to become part of the "Go to seminary!" chorus. (Well, not completely.) It's just that when I got whacked, I ended up doing the last thing I thought I would ever do. Yours might be completely different, and wonderful, and designed just for you!

Blessings in your restlessness...

HereISit said...

My friend is a "lay minister" ie A.I.M. in the ELCA. Her position is practically identical to that of an ordained pastor, although not paid as well. Contact me for more contact info.

RevHRod said...

Sometimes when you get "whacked" in the head, you decide to move out of the parish. After 17 years in parish ministry I have a "specialized call." When people ask me why the change- the answer is that I needed to find more joy in my daily life. It's not that there isn't joy in parish ministry. I just wasn't getting enough of it.

Don't worry about growing up, but I do recommend looking for things that bring you joy in daily life. Not happiness, but joy.

Also, I agree with Lutheran Zephyr about "Listen, God is Calling." It's a goofy title but a really good book. And a pretty quick and easy read.

LutheranChik said...

HereISit: My lay ministry program director is an AIM as well. And that position requires seminary study.

At this point in time I'm pretty much trapped geographically, and I don't have a good solution for that. I think that's maybe what gets to me even more than my job, which does have its positives. I just get tired of being so far away from everything. It's like living in exile. Maybe that's why I like reading the OT prophets.

HereISit said...

In this area, north/central USA, lay people and other lay people who may become AIMs go to two week long seminary sessions/year, plus they do some study sessions weekly in their home area. I wonder if you could do some distance learning....My other friend is director for the Lay School in our synod. She will be consecreted as an AIM as soon as she findd a position.

BTW, I don't know where you are, but we are also in a "remote" area, low population density. The picture of your backyard looks similar to those in our area. Maybe you are in our neighborhood???

RevHRod said...

A lot of ELCA seminary's have online classes nowadays.

Verdugo said...

As another third-career (and lovin' it) wanderer, I'll echo the recommendation of Palmer's Let Your Life Speak. Even if you don't find anything helpful in your search, there's so much else there-- wonderful wisdom about how we do life-- it's worth the read.

I'm wondering if you ever considered doing a unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Ed.) at a local hospital? I could definitely see you in chaplaincy...