OF course, there is much that's good about the thought of a career. But some have found it even more fulfilling to think of their work less as a career than as a calling.
What's the difference?
Sometimes, the thought of career grows thick with conventional, worldly thinking. Money can become quite a factor. So can prestige, power, position, a desire for material security coupled with a resistance to change. A calling, on the other hand, if we think of it as the Bible uses the word, makes God central to our work. God is the One who has called us to our work, who guides us in it, who motivates us to accomplish the good we achieve, and who provides for our security.
When we see our work as a calling, we are willing to see God in the midst of our work every day. He is at the center of how we understand ourselves. Such a view might well demand radical changes in our own thinking, our standards, our practices. And these would stem from the influx of Spirit-based thoughts that would uplift our work on every level.
The Apostle Paul captures the spirit of this vividly in the New Testament, where he says in his letter to the Ephesians: ``I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called . . . . There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling'' (4:1, 4).
When we understand God to be infinite Spirit--a loving and active presence in our lives--then our work takes on meaning far beyond the conventional opinion of work. God is the creator, and creation is a continuous spiritual activity. Not only does God make man in His own likeness, but He also cares for man, governs him, guides him, protects him. God is Spirit and works spiritually but His work touches us right where we are. Our own work is to express God's care for us.
Understanding the man that God creates is crucial to keeping our work God-guided. Since God is divine Spirit, His children are spiritual, not material. This is man--God's man. All that is good and right about our work flows naturally from what man is--God's image--and from the spiritual relationship of man to God that Christ Jesus taught us through his life and works.
The primary element in this relationship is love--God's love for us and our resultant love for Him. The Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, says in her book Unity of Good: ``Now this self-same God is our helper. He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers. He is near to them who adore Him'' (pp. 3-4).
For me, the key to seeing how God is helping change my life from a career to a calling lies in adoring Him. We adore God by patterning our thoughts after His own and allowing such spirit-ualized thoughts to reshape our character and actions.
Christian Science shows that this is a natural occurrence when we place ourselves under this spiritual discipline. A calling is more than just God's guidance at work. It is feeling--deep within us--that something much greater is happening in our work than just a job, just work done, time spent, money earned. When a career grows into a calling, a fundamental shift takes place in our thought.
Of course, God is always what and where He is. And He is now at the center. What changes is deep within our own hearts. It is a recognition on our part of God's eternal presence. When we perceive this truth, everything appears to take on new light, and that certainly includes our work. God becomes our All. Expressing Him in everything we do elevates our career to our calling.