A Special Calling as a Vocation



What would it be like if you worked in a job you truly enjoyed? If you feel under-utilized in your organization, you are not alone.  On a routine basis, many employees force themselves to work without a clear purpose. Numerous people work to maintain their daily bread without ever doing what they love. Sadly, many managers are unable to inspire today’s workforce toward greater performance. Yet, emerging leaders need to know how to rekindle such emotions in the workplace. Through this blog, we will discuss how one’s calling can transform an individual’s life and perhaps improve organizational performance.

The Career Calling

Becoming more productive in life is a function of working in a career that is aligned with one’s abilities and skills. Many organizations fail to understand this simple principle. As a consequence, they have people in jobs that do not fit their abilities. Yes, the organization knows the individual’s education and career experience. However, managers are unable to understand the worker’s ability without input from that worker. There is a distinct difference between an occupation and a vocation. An occupation relates to the principal activity in an individual’s life that earns money for living.

Some people, due to their own financial situation, are forced to work in jobs they hate.  Others must occupy jobs where they are overqualified; this speaks to the issue of underemployment in our nation. Yet, many folks are slaves to their jobs simply because of the income. This situation can lead to stress, depression, and unhappiness. In fact, some people take desperate measures. According to one study, more than 30,000 Americans take their lives annually (more than three suicides for every two murders). 

A vocation is a natural alignment with one’s ability. Vocation relates to a career which a person is particularly suited or qualified to perform.  Some individuals credit this special alignment to a divine provocation. In the medieval Christian period, it was believed that God called certain people and their work was a “calling.”  This calling was usually reserved for the clergy and priest.  In the secular sense, individuals who can fully use all of their talents in a way that liberates them can make great contributions in society.

However, it does invoke a different mental journey. Marsha Sinetar, author of Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow, argues that individuals rarely take the time for introspection: “Most of us think about our jobs or our careers as a means to fulfill responsibilities to families and creditors, to gain more material comforts, and to achieve status and recognition. But we pay a high price for this kind of thinking.”  I have seen this mental awakening all around me.  I have seen my co-workers in various occupations pursue other careers. Cavanaugh Mims was one of these co-workers. He was on the fast-track to a senior position at the Department of Energy. He was a great communicator and influencer.

Yet, Cavanaugh had an entrepreneurial spirit within him. One day, he simply packed his bags at his office to chase his vision. At the time, most people thought he was insane.  His consulting business started as a gleam in Cavanaugh’s eye without any financial security blanket. Today, Visionary Solutions, LLC is a multi-million dollar business. Thus, some people are able to tap into their own calling. In fact, I am coming to this revelation about my own career aspirations.  

Therefore, it is important that individuals take the time to learn what they enjoy and what they are good at. This reality will lead them to their special calling.  In fact, one has a calling when he or she realizes what can be done with his or her God-given abilities.  Once this career revelation is realized, an individual can then take the journey toward greater happiness and job performance.


As society pushes people to acquire more things in order to be happy, we become unhappy with life. It is important that individuals take a personal assessment of their own career objectives in conjunction with their own calling. High performance organizations know they must factor the human capital variable in their corporate strategies. Therefore, organizations that understand how to tap into an employee’s calling will have a competitive advantage because they will maximize the talents of their workforce. In the future, there will be a global war for talent. Businesses that understand this fact will continue to have sustainable growth. The ones that miss it will be at a competitive disadvantage.

 How can organizations tap into innate calling to increase performance of their employees?  While working in jobs that underutilize their abilities, how do employees develop and enhance their abilities?

© 2010 by Daryl D. Green

15 thoughts on “A Special Calling as a Vocation

  1. No one ever said that working is all a person can do. I believe this is evident with the amount of working students in our class. It is to an individual to develop their own set of skills and talents. Continuing education is essential in this process.
    A great way for organizations to tap into/discover innate callings is through cross-training. My company practices cross-training, more so to have coverage in the case of an emergency, but it puts employees out of their norm and they must use a different skill set. I traditionally do more analytical functions, however, I am cross-trained into the design department as well. If I were never exposed to this department, I would have no idea if I wished to pursue it.

  2. It is very true to say if you are not happy at what you do, you won’t be happy in your personal life. The happiness of the employees is the secret of success in any organization. When someone enjoys what he does for living, he becomes creative, and this reflects upon his organization. Unfortunately, many organizations underutilize their employees. It is also very sad to say that seventy percent of American employees have indicated they are not working at their full potential, according to a Harris survey. Too many companies have short term vision; all what they care about is; this month or next quarter. Although it is expensive to have long term vision, if you want to grow you must have it. An investment in training for your employees can have a measurable result in increasing their potential and their performance. Managers should annually have special meetings with their employees individually asking them for their goals for the next year. They also should support the employees that are going to school to develop their skills in their field. In the other hand, I believe that an employee should communicate with his or her boss ideas that will make the employee more creative in a business organization.



  3. Corporations can discover their employees visions and motivations through interactive activities. Such activities would be role play of different situations they may encounter with customers or other employees, these type of activities open up the lines of communication. I like the excercise with the briggs myers study to determine strengths and weaknesses. Another activity is the four colors personality test used by many companies. It is basic and to the point about what frustrates others and what we do to frustrate others http://www.online-distance-learning education.com/article_info.php/articles_id/24. Many people in the workforce are underemployed, it is a great time to take advantage of continuing education or earning a degree in a new field, especially with the education credits available now. Taking advantage of education benefits at work is another good way to increase an individual’s knowledge so when the economy booms again they can hit the ground running!

      • McGregor’s Theory Y lines up with one’s love for their vocation. When someone is “doing” their passion as a vocation they need no suppervision and pay comes in 2nd. This point is supported in Marsha Sinetar’s book “Do what you love the money will follow”.

      • I agree with Jamie. A vocation needs to line up with theory Y, In Theory Y employees are assumed to be ambitious and self motivated. It is believed that employees enjoy doing their job, and this leads them to become creative.

  4. For organizations to “tap” into undiscovered employee talents or callings, I also think cross training works. Besides using cross training, organizations should better implement and pay more attention to employee surveys. Most organizations that I have worked at used employee surveys, however, it was no secret that management never really paid any attention to them. If organizations better organized surveys to find out what employees expect from their job, the organization itself, and maybe where the employee sees them self in 5 years, previously unknown talents and callings may be better identified.
    Cross training and as Zack pointed out, attending classes while working, is how employees that feel under utilized may “fix” their situation. Instead of an employee remaining under a single classification for a single job type, They should always think outside the box and be willing to accept new assignments. I am a firm believer in keeping your hands in as many things as possible and not limiting myself to only performing a single job type.
    From my experience, vocational callings are usual for people who, early on have decided to learn a certain trade. A vocational calling taken early on in someones’ life can also lead to an employee who feels locked into that particular trade. Bottom line, with age our career desires naturally change, it is up to the individual to take measures to do what makes them happy.

  5. The organization I work for uses the Gallup-Engagement Survey in order to “identify the factors that most influence retention, productivity, profitability, customer loyalty and safety.” (http://govleaders.org/gallup.htm) These results help the organization understand how to keep employees engaged as well as what the organization can improve in order to encourage their performance.

    “Leadership is about getting things done the right way; to do that, you need people. To get people to follow you, you need to have them trust you. And if you want them to trust you and do things for you and the organization, they need to be motivated. Motivation is purely and simply a leadership behavior.” (http://govleaders.org/motivation_secrets.htm) Three of the main categories to increase performance in employees are reenergize, encourage and exhort.

    1) Energize-exemplify, communicate & challenge
    2) Encourage-empower, coach & recognize
    3) Exhort-sacrifice & inspire

  6. If you are a manager and you have employees that believe their jobs are a vocation (their calling) then these employees would be motivated intrinsically. They would see their jobs as Kingdom work and their goal would be to build God’s Kingdom. They would be doing a good job because they are working for God not man. It is not all about winning souls to Christ. It is mostly about being salt and light in the world. So a Christian employee who sees their job as a calling will be satisfied with a job that underutilizes their talents because it is not just about them. It is about something greater.


  7. manager need to communicate better with employees to discover employees calling. if the employee feels that they are not doing a job but rather thier calling they will perform much better . many people work everyday jobs just to recieve a paycheck. it is rare to find a job that you love that also has pay thet you love. if an employee feels underutilized they can sharpen thier skills by trying to help out in the other departments that interest them. they may also seek other employement. thats why a MBA program like LMU’s exist for working adults who want to aquire more or better skills to achieve fulfillment in thier lives

  8. Contemporary organizations can maximize workers’ performance by tapping into employee’s innate calling, by evaluating employees beyond their basic factual backgrounds on resumes; possibly by conducting detailed personality tests at the time of hiring. Human resources managers are trained to spot “special employee traits/skills”. HR should build upon that by allowing workers to utilize skills that they excel at beyond their job description. This means employees should be able to communicate effectively with upper levels of management if they feel they could contribute more to their organizations.

    While employees work at jobs that underutilize their abilities, they can develop and enhance their abilities by enrolling in non-formal training such as online classes and degrees in their spare time. This keeps them advancing and gives them a competitive advantage over similar candidates in their jobs and aids them to excel in their careers.

    According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, the most basic human need is physiological (Zalenski and Raspa, 2006)). This includes food, drink, and shelter. These basic needs are impossible to gain ethically without money. Therefore, in today’s society there is a fundamental need for money to enjoy a basic quality of life, and eventually achieve happiness.

    Zalenski, Robert J.1, and Raspa, Richard2,3 Journal of Palliative Medicine; Oct2006, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p1120-1127, 8p, 2 diagrams

  9. To have harmony with your fellow man, you must have peace with God and believing something higher beyond ones self. For here there must be a contention within for pursuit of an aspiration without or else there will be frustration. But with total serenity to our deity we understand that we as beings have our define, destined and purpose. So I amidst the turbulence that surrounds us our anchor must hold firm; and our emotional intelligence must kick in. We understand that our journey trade will arrive but they are temporary, and only the strong survives. This is why our resilience in the lime light is important, and the way you define a manner is some what the pattern your employees may adapt so it is of the essence that you respond with the best etiquette possible. Frankl goes on to say, “Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Hence we must ensure we don’t allow the weakness in us to destroy our greatness, always rising to the occasion and remember we are here for a purpose.
    Frankl, V. E. (1963). “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Pg.104

  10. Most people begin working in a job that does not use their key strengths. They merely perform monotonous jobs that allow them to maintain a certain quality of life they have grown accustomed too. Additionally, employers do not take the time to recognize key strengths in their employees that could be used for the company’s benefit. Managers think their money is well spent training individuals to perform robotic tasks that give the company desired results. While they think this is a plus, it is actually a handicap because they could be making better use of their talent pool by finding out their individual strengths through questionnaires and interviews, and also finding ways to use them to strengthen company performance. Frederck Herzberg developed a checklist for pinpointing ways to increase job enrichment. An article from Productive Workplaces inspired by Herzberg states, “Job enrichment, then, aims to create greater opportunities for individual achievement and recognition by expanding the task to increase not only variety but also responsibility and accountability.” Using this technique provides benefits to both the company and the individual because they are able to now tap into underutilized capabilities for the betterment of the company.

    Productive Workplaces. Early attempts to develop new approaches to job design. Retrived from http://www.accel-team.com/work_design/wd_02.html

  11. Organizations can tap into the innate abilities or calling of their employees by first, getting to know the employees to get a sense of what those abilities may be. Managers or key people in the organization could seek to develop or bring out these abilities by placing employees in situations that take them out of their comfort zone, or by placing them in situations that allow their expertise to shine. This could be formally (on the regular job) or informally (such as at a corporate fundraiser, rally, or outing). Employees can enhance their abilities, even when under-utilized through training, reading, volunteering for special assignments, working with a mentor, attending professional-development sessions, and seeking education.

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