Tag Archives: calling

Working on who we are.

A guest post by Jeff Arnold.

I have a love-hate relationship with my career. I love the work, but hate to be part of an industry that has been dying a slow, painful death for years.

When people ask what I do, I can’t get the word sportswriter out of my mouth fast enough. My answer is received with the romanticized reaction you’d expect as visions of spending days at the ballpark or arena immediately rise to the surface.

But the hate portion of the love-hate recipe partially stems from the admission that at times, I have allowed What I Do to take priority over the Who I Am relationships with my family, my wife, and my God.

It’s a road marred with pitfalls and potholes.

In the good times, my career was strictly hands-off – a race to the top I felt only I could control. But by allowing What I Do to define Who I Am, I left myself vulnerable to times when my job was eliminated or when stories I had high hopes for missed their mark.

So when I came across a line in Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, it delivered a swift kick to the gut.

When work is your identity, if you are successful it goes to your head. If you are a failure it goes to your heart.

identityFailure has always been my biggest fear. So when failure hit my heart – especially as it related to my life’s calling – it took on greater significance. It caused me to rightly or wrongly, re-consider all I had known to be true.

Yet, it’s in that sobering moment when our true identity as one of God’s children takes precedence, helping us realize that what we do really has nothing to do with who we truly are.

What’s not to love about that?

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Jeff Arnold lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, where he works as a contributing writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and considers whether a second Chicago Marathon would be the end of him.

Doing God’s work.

A guest post by Jeff Arnold.

In the beginning, there was work.

The concept seems simple. In the beginning, God worked. He created work for us to enjoy. But somewhere along the way, work went from being divinely created to manually distorted. In a perfect world, Tim Keller writes in his book Every Good Endeavor, work provides us an outlet to put our skill set on display. That gives our lives purpose, but also provides a stage on which to showcase God’s image for the working world to see.

But then again, we don’t operate surrounded by perfection.

I once worked for a demanding and often aggravating newspaper editor who routinely came to my desk while I was reporting my latest story and enthusiastically proclaimed, “Remember, we’re doing God’s work.”

It’s an oft-used journalistic mantra, one I could appreciate and be inspired by when considered in my editor’s context alone. But when I mixed in my Christian perspective, I quickly realized I was being held to a higher standard.

When considered divinely, God’s work becomes our work. And in turn, our work becomes God’s. But as Keller points out, if we lose sight of the reasoning behind the meaningful work God created for us to glorify Him with, work can become ugly. It can become fruitless, pointless and self-centered – everything God never intended for it to become.

workFor work to, well, work in our lives, it must – Keller writes – remain in its proper role, subservient to God. It must give way to not only work stoppage for bodily repair, but also for the joyful reception of the work and ordinary life.

It’s quite the high-wire balancing act.

So the question becomes simple or perhaps simply complicated. What are we working for? Who are we working for? And at the end of the day, is our working actually working?

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Jeff Arnold lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, where he works as a contributing writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and considers whether a second Chicago Marathon would be the end of him.

And The Art of Work ebook is on sale for $2.99 this week.

Asking the right question.

A guest post by Aaron Charles.

Have you ever felt stuck? You’re constantly plugging away, yet the whole time you’re longing for something more.

You want to find your calling.

We’ve all felt that way from time to time, I think. In The Art of Work, author Jeff Goins gets to the root of the issue.

“What if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do? What if you have no idea what your passion is? These are the questions we ask when trying to figure out what we should do with our lives. And they are good questions…but they are not the right questions.”

Not the right questions?! When we’re unsure of our purpose, those are the exact thoughts running through our minds! But, hold on, maybe we do need to ask some different questions.

art“When we say we don’t know what to do, what we’re really doing is asking something deeper. What we want to know is this: ‘Can you promise me I won’t fail?’ And the answer is no. Of course not. Nobody can promise that…Yes, you could fail, but we all know what happens when you don’t try – nothing. Certainly there will be bumps in the road, even wrong turns, but at least you will be moving.”

Something tells me you already have a sneaking suspicion of your calling. You know why I say that? Because mine is welling up inside of me.

I want to write.

While writing a book may seem like a daunting task now, there are steps I can take even today to become a better writer.

There are steps you can take today towards your calling, too.

Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. You’ll be waiting a while. Instead, take some baby steps today. It might be as simple as asking yourself a question.

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Aaron Charles is an assistant account executive at a marketing agency in South Bend, Ind. He is married to his beautiful wife, Sarah. They’ve gone on many adventures together, including a trip to the Super Bowl. Aaron’s dream is to write books. You can find his weekly writings at https://medium.com/@aaroncharles18.

And The Art of Work ebook is on sale for $2.99 this week.

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Listening for Calling

A guest post by Aaron Charles.

You love stories.

You know how I know that? Because we all love stories. From fairy tales to that yarn your grandma spins every time you see her, stories captivate us.

Many of us have something else in common too. It’s a question we’ve grappled with for so long.

What is my calling?
callingIt is this question that Jeff Goins seeks to answer in his book, The Art of Work. He does so by drawing upon the stories of individuals who have wrestled with this idea of calling and come out on the other side. It wasn’t always easy for them. In fact, it wasn’t easy for ANY of them.

A calling isn’t supposed to be easy. But it’s worth it.

Goins’ own story of becoming a full-time writer is as compelling a tale of finding your calling as any. One passage especially resonated with me.

“What kind of writer do you want to be?” my friend Marion asked me. I didn’t know what to say. The truth was I wanted to be like a lot of different writers, but what I really wanted was what they had: fame, talent, money. Sometimes, your calling is simply accepting your role in a story that is bigger than you. So when my friend asked what kind of writer I wanted to be, I said the most natural thing that came to mind: ‘I want to be the kind of writer I’m supposed to be.'”

We’re all on a journey. Our calling isn’t some moment in the future when we will magically have it all figured out. It’s right now. Our calling is around us at this very moment.

We just need to listen.

God has a plan. Somewhere, we fit into that plan. By listening to Him, we’ll find our way.

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Aaron Charles is an assistant account executive at a marketing agency in South Bend, Ind. He is married to his beautiful wife, Sarah. They’ve gone on many adventures together, including a trip to the Super Bowl. Aaron’s dream is to write books. You can find his weekly writings at https://medium.com/@aaroncharles18.

And The Art of Work ebook is on sale for $2.99 this week.

Starting the work week.

As a hospital chaplain, I often walk into to rooms of pain or uncertainty or waiting. I offer presence. I offer ears. Sometimes I offer conversation or counsel. And sometimes I say, “Would it be okay if I pray?”

You may think that I should always ask that last question. Perhaps you are right. But I’m not sure that my calling in each room is to pray out loud. I am sure that I have a responsibility for what Eugene Peterson calls “the cure of souls.” (I wrote about this once.) And that is a responsibility that involves listening in each room for what people are saying and for what God is saying.

This week, a couple of my correspondents will be writing here about work. A couple months back, one of them said he was reading The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. In a completely separate conversation, the other said he was reading Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller. Both books address the ideas of work and calling and connecting  our conversations with God and the work of our hands. I asked each of them to write a post about the book and a post about how it connects to them.

I trust you will find their words, and books, helpful.

And as we start this week, would it be okay if I prayed?

workFather God, my friends need to know that you know them and know of them. As we all begin our weeks, thank you for the time we have, for the energy you give us. In this week after Pentecost, make us aware of you by the power of your Spirit. And in the same way Jesus did good work, help us to work well. With our tasks and with people.

May it be so.