Pursue a Calling, Not a Career

John Ortberg

American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career. Yet, for many people a career becomes the altar on which they sacrifice their lives. Benjamin Honeycutt, a historian who specializes in the history of work at the University of Iowa, notes that work has become our new religion, where we worship and give our time. As people’s commitment to family, community and faith are shrinking, they begin to look to their careers to provide them with meaning, connectedness, identity and self-esteem.

A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.

From: If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, (c) Zondervan, 2001.

John Ortberg (JohnOrtberg.com) is the author of many books, including The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Growth for Ordinary People and The Me I Want To Be. He is also Senior Pastor at Menlo Park Prebyterian Church, a 4,000-member church Northern California with campuses in Menlo Park, Mountain View, and San Mateo. John and his wife of twenty years, Nancy, have three children: Laura, Mallory and Johnny.