Do you have a calling? I believe the correct answer to this question is “yes!” What have you been called to do in your life? Are you following your calling?
Each of us has a calling. If you’re operating within your calling, as a general rule you look forward to what you do every day. If you’re operating outside your calling, your typical day is a bad experience! If your life is satisfying and fulfilling, you may well be living within your calling.
The experience that you have on your life’s journey will be impacted greatly by whether you’re operating within or outside your calling.
Let me share a story that illustrates this point and others. In pastor and author Max Lucado’s book, “In the Eye of the Storm,” Mr. Lucado wrote about a fishing trip he went on when he was in high school. There’s not enough space in this column to print the entire story, so I’ll summarize it and his message.
Mr. Lucado shared that when he was in high school his family used to go fishing every year during spring break. One year, his brother and his mother couldn’t go. Max went with his Dad and his father allowed him to bring a friend. Max invited his good friend, Mark, to go with him.
They were very excited as they planned the trip. They envisioned a week of the sun warming their bodies as they floated in the boat and the yank of the rod, the spin of the wheel as they wrestled the white bass into the boat. They could smell the fish frying in an open skillet over an open fire. They could hardly wait for spring break to get there.
Finally it arrived! They loaded the camper and set out for the lake. They got to the lake at night, unfolded the camper, and went to bed ready for the excitement of a day of fishing the next morning. But during the night a major storm blew in. It got cold fast and the wind was so strong that the three of them could barely open the camper door the next morning. The sky was gray. The lake was a mountain range of white-topped waves. There was no way they could fish in that weather.
“No problem,” they said, they would spend the day in the camper and miss one day of fishing. After all, they had brought a Monopoly game and some Reader’s Digests. They each knew some jokes. Although they would miss a day of fishing, they would fill the day with other activities.
So, stuck in the camper with a Coleman stove and a Monopoly board, the three fishermen passed the day indoors. The hours passed ever so slowly, but eventually they did pass. Night came and the three crawled into their sleeping bags dreaming of tomorrow’s day of angling.
But just as it is in life, sometimes things don’t work out as they are planned. The next morning it wasn’t the wind that made the door hard to open, it was the ice!
The three of them, disappointed, muttered “no problem” again and thought that it wouldn’t hurt them to play some more Monopoly, reread the Reader’s Digest stories, and maybe come up with a few more jokes. But as courageous as they tried to be, some of the gray had left the sky and entered into their camper.
Max began to notice some things he hadn’t seen before. He noticed his friend Mark had some personality flaws. He was a bit too cocky about his opinions. He was easily irritated and constantly edgy. He couldn’t take any constructive criticism. Even though his socks did stink, he didn’t think it was any of Max’s business.
When Max commented on these things he expected his father to come to his aid, but his Dad just sat in the corner reading. Max began thinking, “Where is my Dad when I need him?” Then Max started seeing his father in a different light. When Max mentioned to his father that the eggs were soggy and the toast was burnt, his father invited Max to try his hand with the portable stove. “Touchy, touchy” Max said to himself, nothing like being cooped up in a camper with someone to help you see his real nature.
It was a long second day. And it was a long, cold third night.
When they awoke the third morning with sleet slapping the canvas, they didn’t even pretend to be cheerful. They were all flat-out grumpy. Mark became more of a jerk with each passing moment. Max wondered what spell of ignorance he must have been in to invite him in the first place. And Max’s father couldn’t do anything right. Max wondered how anyone so irritable could have such an even tempered son. They sat in the camper for a third day with their fishing equipment still unpacked.
The next day was even colder. Max’s father’s first words in the morning were “We are going home!” There was no objection from Max or Mark.
Max learned a hard lesson that week. Not about fishing, but about people...when those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight.
In our lives, when energy intended to be used outside is used inside, the result is explosive. Instead of casting nets, we cast stones. Instead of extending helping hands, we point accusing fingers. Instead of being fishers of the lost, we become critics of the saved. Rather than helping the hurting, we hurt the helping.
Mr. Lucado repeated, when those called to fish don’t fish, they fight. Nothing handles a case of the gripes like an afternoon service project. Nothing restores perspective better than a visit to a hospital ward. Nothing unites soldiers better than a common task.
Leave soldiers inside the barracks with no time on the front line and see what happens to their attitude. The soldiers will invent things to complain about. Bunks will be too hard. Food will be too cold. Leadership will be too tough. The company will be too stale. Yet place those same soldiers in the trench and let them duck a few bullets, and what was a boring barracks will seem like a haven. The beds will feel great. The food will be almost ideal. The leadership will be courageous. The company will be exciting.
In his book, Mr. Lucado continued with a spiritual application about what happens to fishers of men when they don’t fish.
His conclusion was that the next time the challenge “outside” tempts you to shut your door and stay inside, stay just long enough to get warm. Then get out. When those who are called to fish don’t fish, they fight.
Despite good intentions, I think Mr. Lucado’s fishing story applies to each one of us. If we operate outside our calling, we can do more damage to ourselves and to others than should ever be done. When we are doing what we are called to do, we do it well and positively impact those we interact with.
My challenge to you today is to have a conversation with the person in the mirror. Seriously. If you are not doing what you need to be doing, not having joy in your life, and in the process taking joy from the lives of others, maybe it’s time for a change.
If pulling a plow down the field with those around you sharing a common goal motivates you, help your team accomplish what it needs to be accomplishing to serve and add value to others. If you are not able to yoke yourself next to those on either side of you and move forward together in unison, maybe you should ask if there is a better position for you to follow your calling in your life.
Think about this. Then either act or don’t act in order to make your life and this world a better place.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.
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