I first heard the word calling when I became a Christian 3 decades ago. It has since found its way into corporate discussions.
In Christian context, a calling have several dimensions but let me just share two that is relevant to our discussion
- A ‘general calling’ for all wo/men to have a relationship with the Creator (born again experience)
- A ‘technical calling’ received by select Christians to be trained, then serve God in “full time” capacity as either pastor, prophet, teacher, apostle or evangelist (5 fold ministry gifts)
The concept of a professional job as calling is not new. I first heard it 30 years ago, when I’m just starting my HR career. The premise is when one stays in a specific career, and/or a company, despite the hardships, then it must be a calling.
This thinking is still vibrant in HR communities. You can read some exchanges of HR peeps in GCs or FB groups, they encourage each other despite the challenges of work. Because an HR job. though thankless at times, is noble. As they say, it is a calling.
What is a calling
Let’s first have a leveled understanding of a ‘calling’.
Websters’ 1st definition is a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence (emphasis mine)
When we talk about technical calling, it involves God asking a person to serve him ‘exclusively’ in the 5 fold ministry gifts, a specialized and pre-identified task. What differentiates these from other jobs, inside and outside the church, is God calling a person to be, not God entertaining applicants. One can desire to be a pastor, prophet, teacher, apostle, or evangelist, but they can’t be one unless they ‘received’ what we call a ‘calling’.
With the other jobs, either in church ministry or professional career, you don’t need to receive a call to be one. A desire for a specific career is enough. As long as you are inside the parameters of God’s will, then you are good to go (an example of a career outside God’s parameter is illegal drugs kingpin). Of course, we need education, training, and experience to become the best version of ourselves in our chosen profession.
Because in a Christian context, God will only give the parameters of His purpose (for us), we are free to choose a career based on our desire and our genetically encoded talents. No need for God to dictate.
- Spiritual Intelligence
- What Controls Employee Behavior in the Workplace
- How to Manage Employee Behavior
Is it OK to label a professional career as a calling.
We are in a free world and if anyone would like to refer to their profession as a calling, they can. But we need to understand what they meant. It might be to describe their dedication to a job or profession, or loyalty towards a company or organization. Or because serving the people or community thru the company, give satisfaction to their altruistic nature.
When our chosen career grew within us even before we start college when it is something we really liked and passionate about, when we discussed this with God and sought His blessing, THEN it is likely that we received an anointing (an ability). Ability to develop a positive attitude towards work, love for our work, resilience to endure hardship, and find the silver lining in bad situations. Add to that, we need the ability to acquire the requisite skills for the job or career of our choice.
The good and the bad
The good: It will reinforce and promote a culture of ‘malasakit’, resilience and positive attitude in the workplace. It can also help HR operationalize this long nurtured notion–‘have the right person seated on the right seat and on-board the right bus’
The bad: Some bosses also use ‘calling’ to take advantage of their staff– they are quick in giving staff additional work, but they drag when it comes to rewards and renumeration. These bosses would say, ‘calling’ mo naman yan, kapit lang.
Why we should pay attention
Since we mentioned that ‘calling’ has an element of Divine influence, there is an implied belief that those who associate their career with a calling will seek ultimate reward from God, not from their human employers. Thus, resilience to difficult situations is expected and monetary gain is secondary. This is the reason why those who associate calling in their career are often taken advantage of.
Are you faced with a job offer that is better paid than your current employer?
Do you find yourself in awe because your contemporaries in different companies are receiving twice to thrice as much as you are receiving in your present employer?
But your work is desperately needed by your current employer and its employees, but company can’t match industry rates.. what now?
Is your job or career still a ‘calling’?