I enjoyed time at a conference on the intersection of faith and work earlier this month (see: Karam Forum).
One of the themes that arose multiple times was the importance of community in flourishing economies and in the lives of flourishing individuals. The concept of human flourishing is about growth and development. The best flourishing, however, does not happen in isolation—it happens within the context of a community where we are able to use our gifts, skills, and abilities in service of others.
It is tempting to think of our careers, jobs, and vocations through an individualistic lens, though. Consider such questions:
- What do I want to do with my life?
- What type of work do I most enjoy?
- What are my passions, interests, and desires?
- How can my passions, interests, and desired be most fulfilled in the context of my work?
These are not bad questions, they are simply incomplete. Vocation is not primarily about “I”, “my”, and “me.” Vocation—the most fulfilling and meaningful forms of vocational stewardship—is more about “we” than “me.”
Certainly, we need to reflect on vocation from a personal perspective, but the most fulfilling forms of vocational stewardship that lead to human flourishing involve deep reflection on how our work will serve others, not just ourselves. Tom Nelson referred to this as the “we-ness” of our work.
When vocation is primarily about me—what will be most enjoyable to me or what will most quickly build my wealth—work becomes merely functional and utilitarian.
We work is about we—how I can use my gifts and skills to contribute to the benefit of others—work becomes fulfilling and infused with great meaning.
In their book Practicing the King’s Economy, Rhodes, Holt and Fikkert remind us that “Every road to the economy of the kingdom runs through the creation of community.” Our work and vocation do not find their meaning and fulfillment in isolation. Vocation becomes rewarding when we consider how we utilize who we are and what we are able to do in service of others. In diverse expressions of work, we find the most fulfillment in our vocation when we see how our work connects to and meaningfully serves others.
How will your unique gifts, skills, and abilities in this life best contribute to the flourishing of both your own life and to the lives of others? The best vocational choices in life come when we thinking about “we” rather than just thinking about “me” in the context of our work.
What are your thoughts on vocational discernment? Take a moment to share your perspectives below.