This is the fundamental question, and my effort in this entrepreneurial course is to find the answer to this question. There are many different ways to go about it, but a key seems to be understanding myself, my values, and my talents.
There is a second aspect to answering the question, though. Once I’ve discovered my talents, what do I do with them? How do I find a job or an opportunity where I can use them? The talk, What is Your Calling in Life, by Jeffrey A. Thompson addresses this aspect of the question.
In the talk, Professor Thompson speaks of the religious basis for the notion that work is a noble and good thing. He notes that prior to Martin Luther, work was seen as – at best – a distraction from more noble efforts such as philosophizing or studying religious texts. It was Martin Luther who recognized that work was a righteous pursuit, and later, it was John Calvin who saw that it is in exercising our God-given talents in our work that we will bless the lives of others.
But the religious roots of work have been stripped away by the world. Without those roots, the effort to find one’s calling in life and at work has become daunting and confusing. It’s when we dispel the “heresies” (his words) of the worldly view of work and go back to the spiritual roots that we will find our calling. Thompson enumerates five heresies, and he reintroduces the spiritual element to each to rediscover the truth. I’ll not reiterate them here, but summarize the core of what I learned from this article.
We each have God-given spiritual gifts. If we will discover what those are, and apply them – no matter what our profession – to serve our fellow man, then we will have found our calling. We’re here on earth to serve God. We can do that by helping others. It doesn’t matter if we’re a doctor or a janitor; each day, if we will apply our spiritual gifts to our profession, we will be acting out our calling in life. And should we be unemployed, even still, we can apply our gifts in service to others through volunteerism.
The funny thing is, though there is no guarantee this will be the case, as we exercise those spiritual gifts in whatever we do, people will notice. As they notice, those gifts may open opportunities, and they may create our profession for us. As we exercise our spiritual gifts in any task, and as we do so in the service of others, we can create or find that profession that is our calling in life.
For me, this idea resonates well with something that has been ruminating lately as I’ve studied entrepreneurship. I’ve asked myself, “what can I do to be an entrepreneur today, while I am still an employee?” And I’ve realized that where I can be spending my effort is reaching out to others. I can be more social. I can connect with friends and coworkers, talk more, listen more, and help more. In short, I can serve others using my unique talents and knowledge.
In this whole quest to be an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to become self-centered; if I do that, I will ultimately fail. My effort needs to be outward, toward serving others; if I do that, I will ultimately succeed.