On Missing My Calling … Gladly

There are two definitions of vocation. The most common is that it’s synonymous with job. However, the word is also sometimes used in the sense of a calling: as in a religious calling.

I once felt that I had a calling. Believe it or not, it was to the ministry. I was only a teenager when I began to feel seriously about The Call, but I think it started many years prior to that, when I was perhaps eight or nine years old.

My dad and I were walking up the church steps one fine, sunny Sunday morn when an elderly lady declared, “Here come the two ministers.” You see, my dad had been a lay pastor for a few years. I was born during that period, so those times couldn’t have been all bad. Apparently, this elderly lady was inspired to prophesy that I would follow in his footsteps. A declaration like that tends to stick with a young fellow.

However, as I neared the end of high school also felt pulled in another direction. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I felt a calling to become a teacher, but I certainly felt a drawing to that profession.

I’m not sure that I ever agonized over the choice, but I did ponder the alternatives verbally one day.

It was then that my dad pretty well advised me to eschew the ministry. From his experiences,  Dad gave me the only piece of advice that I can ever recall him offering me by saying to bear in mind that I was not the son of a pastor (which he certainly hadn’t been for a long time by then). What I have always assumed that he meant was that nepotism was rampant in our affiliation, and that I wasn’t in a position to compete well with the chosen. Having since seen ministers hire their uninspiring sons and family members to their staffs, I can verify that Dad knew whereof he spoke.

Off I went to university and into teaching. I briefly flirted with the notion of reversing careers after a few years into my life of pedagogy because I had been forced to transfer schools due to the vagaries of enrollment, and I was feeling a bit disabused and abused.

That notion didn’t last long, however.

Thank goodness.

As it turns out, we need to be leery of callings that occur at a young age: indeed, perhaps at any age.


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11 Responses to On Missing My Calling … Gladly

  1. Mara says:

    I had wanted to be a nurse ever since I was 4 years old and then when I was 16 I didn’t want to do it anymore. I felt quite guilty about that, especially since I also didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. I have since realised that nursing would have been a fine job, just not a vocation.

  2. Ruth says:

    For many people in “our affiliation” there was no higher calling than “the ministry”. Three of my four brothers headed that direction as expected, but one was ill-suited and his withdrawal was difficult and guilt-ridden. Sounds like your dad was very wise. My ideas about what ministry is have changed a lot over the years. I am heading out shortly to my ministry with the sick.

  3. Diana says:

    I truly believe that God has a plan for all of us. Apparently he thought you would make an excellent teacher as I suspect you were!
    Love Di ♥

  4. QMM says:

    What better preparation for being responsible for 4 (your children and grands) young minds than having been a teacher. Everyone in my family thinks I know everything about medicine. Actually I remember nothing.

  5. I was raised Catholic, attended parochial schools, hence, I am now more Spiritual!Hahaaa…..I wanted to become a Nun…My path clearly lead me elsewhere…Nursing and Plumbing….it works for me.

  6. PBS says:

    As a child I wanted to be an author and live in the woods and have done both! But have currently gotten away from them.

  7. Frank says:

    I felt a call to the priesthood until I was old enough to realize that call conflicted with another that I felt strongly – the call of the opposite sex. 😉

    Life usually presents us with a choice of paths. I’m glad you feel you took the right one.

  8. When I was very young, the thought of becoming a doctor was enticing, then i realized all the schooling that was involved and decided on journalism instead. Luckily I was able to work as a reporter/photographer for some weekly papers and then later entered the corporate arena in documentation and publications units. Seems our first choices are not the ones we end up pursuing.

  9. judy says:

    I’m 52 and STILL don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Hasn’t happened yet, so I guess there is still time.
    What I seem to be gifted in is criticism. I’ve no original ideas of my own, but tell me your ideas, and I’ll find something wrong with them. That’s a gift, isn’t it?
    I must say though, that teaching IS a ministry. And you still are teaching today. With this blog, with your grands, and you are GOOD at it!

  10. Lorna says:

    Had I followed through on my early leanings, I would by now be the widow of an older, experienced and tanned doctor whose service was in darkest Africa. I would have discovered something as amazing as X-rays while raising my unusually blonde Viking children, writing the most amazing book ever about the everyday life of God, educating the poor, admonishing the evil and inspiring the lazy. Then, I would have joined the Convent of the Sacred Heart, spending my last days humbly nursing the older nuns and singing them to heaven.

  11. Kila says:

    I can absolutely see you as a minister. The lady’s prophecy may yet come true. 😉 I think you likely enjoyed teaching more than you’d have enjoyed being a minister.

    My life didn’t quite turn out how any of us thought it would. But I think no matter where or how we end up, He uses us for good.

    Your blog is a ministry, really. Even through typed words on a screen, you are a leader and a teacher that has been a blessing to me.

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