They say that the answer to the “If you could do anything…” question tells you what you're meant to do.
It says something about your passions and interests and what you'd be doing if you didn't have to worry about paying the bills and such. But most people struggle with the two — I call it the issue of vocation versus occupation.
The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, which means “calling.” It suggests some grand purpose in your life. Occupation has the same root as “occupy” and that's just what it does — occupies your time and brings home a paycheck.
A few years ago, I was struggling with this tension between passion and provision.
I sensed my heart was directing me to live with reckless abandon in pursuit of my dreams, while my mind was telling me to be more responsible and stable in preparation for marriage.
Worried about the crossroads in life I was facing, I was anxious about “selling out” and living a mediocre existence. In a panic, I called my mentor.
I can't stress enough how important it is for young people to have mentors in their lives that they trust to give candid feedback. I'm not just talking about a parent, professor, or pastor, but someone who speaks into your life even when you don't ask. This takes a high degree of trust and grace to build, but once you have the relationship, it's invaluable.
So I went to my mentor and told him my dilemma.
Candidly, he responded, “Join the crowd.”
“What?!” I was incredulous.
“Actually,” he said. “I think you're in a good place — struggling with what you could do and what you should do. It says a lot about your character, that you're concerned about fulfilling your life's calling and providing for your family. I feel bad for those don't struggle with the two.”
I ruminated on that for awhile, and it really struck me as profound. Join the crowd.
That phrase changed the way I thought of what I had to do and what I loved doing. I had always believed that if those two didn't completely synchronize with one another that something was seriously wrong in my life.
But maybe that's just how real life is — messy.
Maybe there is nothing wrong with struggling with the tension between occupation and vocation. Maybe the real tragedy is in not struggling at all — in flaking out on your responsibilities for the sake of your “calling” or compromising your dream for the sake of security.
Maybe those of us who don't lose sleep over the idea of calling and living responsibly are indeed missing out.
Maybe you should join the crowd.
What would you do… if you could do anything? Share in the comments.