I have struggled for the past five years in the discernment process for my vocation. I feel that God is calling me to something big and important, so I am afraid to make too much of a commitment in order to keep myself free to do his will. Is there a specific way to know his will for me? I’m surprised it’s taking this long.
Our Catholic faith teaches us that grace builds on nature. Therefore, it is important to consider both the natural and supernatural sides to your question. The first half of the advice I would give to anyone, believer or nonbeliever, because nonbelievers also struggle to commit to an area of study or field of work.
There are three levels of work that people seek. The lowest of these is to simply settle for a job. This is the least fulfilling because it is, in essence, trading time for money without consideration of your natural gifts. There are certainly circumstances that make settling for a job a very noble and self-sacrificing act, such as providing for immediate family needs. However, in times of longer consideration, it is better to choose at least the second level.
The second level is a career, which can be defined as a chosen profession. It can be assumed that a career is more fulfilling for most people because choosing to do something presupposes a certain level of satisfaction from the work.
The highest level of satisfaction from work can be found within the framework of a vocation.
A vocation is a chosen field of work for which a person is well suited. Career mentality can easily lead someone to get caught up in the whimsical desires of his heart without consideration of his true strengths and weaknesses. There should be no doubt that the desires of the heart are significant and important, but they must be accompanied by a thoughtful, humble and intellectual look at who you truly are.
While my advice would end there for a nonbeliever, it will continue for you.
As a Christian you clearly know that your natural abilities are God-given and that it is your responsibility as a good steward of those gifts to refine them into skills.
The grateful recipient of a gift is usually a more considerate keeper. Without temperance, however, unbridled consideration can cause paralysis. Most of us will never know exactly what God’s will is for us as it pertains to our exact job, company or particular vocational decisions. This is where faith enters our life. If you make a sound decision to do something in good faith, in his time God will let you know if you are wrong.
I would encourage you to get off the sidelines and jump into the game with trust in the Lord. Faith in motion has a greater chance to stay in motion; faith standing still may risk atrophy.
Stay close to the sacraments as you make your decision, and God will write straight with your crooked lines.
Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.