After finishing Gordon Smith's Courage & Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential (1999, InterVarsity Press), the following phrase keeps running through my head: It is who I am that marks (or informs) what I do: It is not what I do that marks (or informs) who I am. Vocation comes from within. Because it is a calling from God based on the gifts, talents, personality and background with which he has blessed me, it permeates me from the inside out. The Scriptures talk about how the Spirit works on the heart and mind...therefore it must begin from within.
How often do we ask people to tell us what they do? It is, in fact, one of the great small-talk questions that can launch a conversation between two strangers. To answer that question, we have to talk about our "day job," about the organization at which we work, how hard we work, and how what we do makes a difference to the economy at large. Perhaps the question could be stated better with, "Tell me about yourself." When asked to expound on that subject, we might begin to talk about our families, our skills and strengths, our hobbies, our past,and perhaps what we do during the day to make a difference. But notice the subtlety of where the answer begins - from the inside. This is who I am!
So...who are you? What kind of person are you? What makes you tick? What brings you joy? What matters to you? What is it that you would like to do that would make a difference in the world? These are the questions with which we can begin our search for a vocational identity. Then - and only then - can we can begin to discover and talk about what what it is that we do.