The word "vocare" in ancient Latin means "to call, to call forth, to summon." We derive the word "vocation" from it. However, in a spiritual context, I believe it means much more than your profession. It has to do with your essence, your innermost being. The leader of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, Martin Luther, trusted in what he called the priesthood of all believers, that all are ministers of God in their own way, whether a farmer, an artisan, a manager, or a congresswoman. I am not going so ministerial here, but I am committed to the idea that every human being on the planet has a "calling." This calling defines us and shapes us. It is what we are passionate about. It is our life compass, our hopes and dreams. It is what we are called to do. It is in our blood. It is our soul and world path.
Interestingly enough, although it is in service to self, our calling is not intrinsically selfish. Some aspects of our purpose, our reason for being, involve getting along with each other. The Santa Fe Institute of Science argued in the 1980s that human nature is not based upon the old law of evolution adage, "the survival of the fittest." Instead, something inherent in our species is the "Human Cooperation Gene." Humans and societies that cooperate have a much better long-term survival rate. There is less war and stressful conflict and more emphasis on using resources for the betterment of all (education, health, recreation). Consequently, our calling involves some aspect of service to and cooperation with others.
Imagine a world where each of us takes and receives (money, resources, power, love, and status) but is also committed to giving something back (money, resources, power, love, and status). Perhaps we will even give back a little more in appreciation for what has been given to us. (That is one definition of a Lightworker.) Can you imagine the harmonious and beautiful balance in such a world? It does not have to be a pipe dream, but it does require everyone to consider getting on board. At the same time, this is not a prescription for doing away with ambition or competition. If we follow our calling, those can be important attributes for striving to do our best. They are just not a cutthroat purpose unto themselves, a self-centered striving for power or status at the expense of others.
Sadly, many do not hear the "call" or even know they have a "calling." Through our schooling, we raise so many people to be obedient little citizens and soldiers, to be followers. It is built upon the Prussian Model of education, which is centuries outdated. Similarly, many parents feed into that by encouraging their children to strive for safe and secure jobs with pensions in industry and government, not noticing that in the 21st Century, there are few safe and secure jobs with pensions anymore, anywhere. In addition, a number of parents raise their children with the same destructive messages they were raised with, from abusive ("You're lazy," "Good for nothing," "Never amount to anything," and far worse) to insensitive and ignoring (never showing how proud they are of their child, not attending their child's activities, not showing that the child is valued, not listening to their child, not role modeling important life values). These messages snuff the life out of hopes and dreams. Much of our counseling work is an attempt to repair the damage from these childhoods: to raise self-esteem, to assist them in believing they have a right to their wants and needs, to help them open to their hopes and dreams, and to discover who they truly are.
Recently, a young man confronted his father about the father being a poor role model regarding the importance of reading and education. The father played video games alone throughout the boys' youth and never read to his children at bedtime or took them to the park or any outside activities. The boy never learned how fun it is to explore the world or the world of imagination through reading. To his credit, the father was very sad and acknowledged his failures, which brought father and son closer together. The young man now has to kickstart his own hopes and dreams without a firm foundation. But, to his credit, he is determined, overcoming his fears and starting college. Now, I am helping him decide what he wants to be when he grows up—and that it is his decision and his alone.
Yet, for many, they felt they had little choice. I can't tell you how many times I have heard this story. A young person has a talent (art, music, fashion, film) and wants to pursue that in college, only to be talked out of it or be completely blocked by a parent because it is not a practical profession, and they will not be able to make a "decent" living. Years later, the person is in a job they detest, and they have a great grief that they did not have the courage to stand up to their parents and fight for what they loved doing.
The stories go on and on. And, it is not always about being blocked. Many parents are supportive of their children's choices. However, we don't always find our calling right away. Sometimes, our own fears and insecurities get in the way. Sometimes, we have more than one calling. When I was young, I was called to Social Work and child advocacy, which shaped my counseling career for the rest of my life. I was later called to teach at the university level. Still later, I was called to the ministry. Finally, I was called to write a book. And, I am not done—even at 75 years of age. The point is that our calling may continue evolving over many years, and we never completely stop it. Like I said, it is in our blood.
So, this is a call to action. In our case, it is a call to specific service as a Spiritual Counselor or Coach. If you haven't received your "call" but know this is what you are being guided to, then it is time to start asking your version of God or Higher Power to clearly show you the way. If you are ready and open to discover the real you, then you will see the doors open.
As you open to this, you will also help your clients find their way. They will discover that it doesn't matter if they love working on automobiles or complex mathematical equations. The universe is just waiting for them. No matter what the call—to be a great parent, to be a great partner, to a profession, to a volunteer service, to leadership, to public service, to an action such as writing a book—then, they can say, "I AM Called!" Are you ready to be called?
Rev. Dr. Tom Norris