I've definitely known janitors who perform their work with passion and excellence. It inspires me. But as I've watched and listened to them talk about what they do, I've seen that their role isn't their Calling. It's why they do this role--what it is about what they do and how they do it--that helps to identify whether it's a Calling or not.
I saw a wonderful story on a CBS Sunday Morning show that reminded me of how at times our calling and our job can collide and intersect in powerful ways. Watch this 2 minute clip about Charles Clark from Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, and let yourself be inspired!
Would you say that Charles Clark saw his janitor job as his Calling? Or did he view his job as a platform through which to express his more specific Calling?
Be Clear on the Distinction Between Roles and Calling
As I've said before, that distinction is quite significant. We are tempted to see our roles, our jobs, as our calling. And yet when we stop to explore the deeper truth within both, we realize that Calling is more about how we express our unique selves in the world, our deepest passion for what specific kind of impact we want to make in the world that we are eminently qualified to live out because of who we are.
Clark's Calling was essentially guiding young black boys to a sense of higher purpose and a more meaningful life, helping them learn how to take personal responsibility for their present and future lives in order to fulfill their highest potential.
It's true, Clark performed his duties as a janitor with excellence and faithfulness. I love his statement to the interviewer, "When you sit down on one of my toilets, you'll never sit on a cleaner toilet anywhere!" He clearly took his responsibilities and his drive for excellence seriously.
But his real passion was motivating and mentoring young men. And the fact that they responded so well to him shows that he was living out his Calling. Even the school's counselor (who had a graduate degree) saw his effectiveness. He was able to reach some kids she couldn't.
Should Charles Clark ever leave his job as a janitor, my guess is that wherever he landed next, he would still find a way to fulfill this special Calling. Because it is an accurate expression of who he is, his passion and sense of purpose in the world, the sum total of his life experiences, his wiring and sacred design - all of the elements that have shaped him to be a hugely effective mentor to young black boys.
You see, our jobs change. Which means our platforms change. But our Calling stays with us wherever we go.
Identify Your Calling
So for us to be as effective as possible in this life, we need to develop clarity about our Calling. We need to identify what specifically it is that motivates us more than anything else; what that one thing is that drives us, fills us with joy when we're doing it, empowers us with a passion that gives us the stamina and courage to stay the course even in the face of obstacles. It's that "thing"--that common thread and theme we can identify in the various roles we've had through life in both our professional and personal spheres.
When you identify this, you have given yourself a gift of empowerment for the rest of your life. Here's how this works:
Calling clarity breeds purpose which breeds inspiration which breeds motivation which breeds powerful action which breeds joy which breeds persistence which breeds deep satisfaction from a sense of accomplishment which breeds faithfulness and fulfillment.
Are you clear about your Calling and are you living it?
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