In the United States, home of long work-hours and short vacations, less than half of all Americans say they're satisfied with their jobs. That figure is down from 61 percent 20 years ago, according to a study released in 2007 by the Conference Board, a business research organization. Other studies show variable job satisfaction levels around the world – higher in Britain and Western Europe than the US, though slipping in Germany, and lower in Eastern Europe and Japan.
If you're unemployed or concerned about being laid off, thinking about what makes you happy in your work might rank low. But it's a good time to invest in that quest. Some crucial questions need to be answered: What work is truly satisfying? What is my bliss, anyway – am I missing, or evading, my calling? Even if I'm feeling called to do something different with my life, how can I do it when it's hard enough to pay for housing, food, and fuel? There are yet deeper questions, too: What's the source of our calling? How can it be discovered and followed? Is it only a higher human need, or is it something spiritual, even holy?
What within us or without does the calling?
Answers to this question come from letting the inspired Word speak to our hearts. The early followers of Jesus had a profound sense of being called to their work. They spoke of a calling as a divine gift. The Bible says, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11:29), suggesting that God doesn't repent, or change His mind, about the talents He gives.
There's comfort in accepting that one's calling is "of God" and that God never revokes or withdraws it. The divine Mind originates, produces, nurtures, and maintains its ideas. This Mind wouldn't hide facets of true identity from a loved creation, nor would a loving Maker cause new insights to bud within us and then let them die on the vine undeveloped and unsustained.
The desire to find and follow one's calling takes the search beyond a personal sense of selfhood. The self-made man or woman is all too easily unmade when the going gets tough. And even the worthiest of human character traits would be an extremely limited palette to the eternal, creative Mind.
We find ourselves and begin to realize our full potential as we come to know and adore God. Honoring and loving the Creator impels a liberating, pure love of oneself and others, as Spirit's own magnificent and worthy creations. Answering a calling means being and doing what God is making us be and do. Listening, desiring prayer, more than the talking-point-ruled mental agenda, opens the channels of self-discovery. Divine Mind defines and exalts and advances its ideas to the spiritually attuned consciousness.
Following a calling against all odds
When we discern something that's true of ourselves and our purpose, it's divinely lawful to see that truth take flight and be sustained. As Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy put it, "The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 151). And in her autobiographical work she added, "Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity" ("Retrospection and Introspection," p. 70). There's a divine "must be" behind every God-endowed gift. Just as self-adulation can muddy a calling and weigh down the one called, self-doubt clutters the way with fear. But God's Christ-message comes to anyone honestly desiring to find his or her way – to break the pull of fear or halt the push of selfish ambition.
Called to heal
Within the seed of each individual's calling, there's the substance of a healer. Whatever our calling may be, wherever it takes us, we're all called to be healers and helpers, menders and lifters. Yes, to heal the sick and help the lost. But we're also called to mend relationships, families, communities, and economies; to lift and inspire others by being transparent to God's light and laws. Each one's calling magnifies the God who loves us into being.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel (Sept. 1).