I was very moved by the story of the musicians who continued to play for the passengers whilst the Titanic sank. Part of me wonders what motivated them to do such a thing? Was it bravery, dedication, a sense of a deeper calling or that they were just facing the inevitable and trying to provide a few moments of pleasure before facing death? Makes me wonder what I would do if faced with certain death: would I hold true to what I believed and my calling? The Titanic Musicians were obviously very sure that their duty was to play beautiful music – not just a job but a way of life. Music was intrinsic to their being.
For many of us doing the job or vocation that makes us happy is already a way of life. But for some of us we are not sure what our calling is yet. In popular culture it is presumed that we must have everything sown up career-wise before we are thirty. But life isn’t like that and God isn’t bound by time, He does things when he is ready and in His time. Winston Churchill is famously quoted for saying that he felt his “moment” was taking on the role of Prime Minister during the Second World War; he was in his mid 60s at the that point. He’d waited most of his life for his seminal moment of vocation.
So what is a “calling”? For Christians, this means a task or job that they feel God is asking them to do. It could even include looking after a certain people group or making a difference in some way in their local community. Some callings are big, such as being called to move to a different country, or to work with a people group that can put your life in danger. Other callings can be small such as looking out for your neighbour or looking after a sick friend. I think it would be fair to say that all callings can be life changing if you do them willingly. The benefits of helping someone can be life changing to both you and them. There are plenty of non-Christians that feel that they are called to a particular job and this is often known as a vocation.
So how can you find out what your “calling” is? If you believe in God, ask Him, He knows far better than us what our gifts, talents and purposes are. Write a list of what you think your gifts and talents are, also add activities or jobs that make you happy and that you enjoy doing. You should begin to see where your gifting and calling lies. A calling isn’t always a paid job either. It can be something that runs alongside your current career or post; something to look forward to after work.
Some people also assume that a calling is easy and will present no problems. Unfortunately life isn’t like that and people often find that the greater the calling, the greater the challenge that faces them. This shouldn’t deter us from acting though, if you face problems in doing your calling, keep going! You’ll grow through facing the challenges and gain greater wisdom and experience.
There are some callings that we don’t know we have until the moment arises. This is certainly true for the musicians on the Titanic. It may be that today you will help someone in some way without knowing it. A kind word or action that was spontaneous and unexpected could really move someone. I met someone recently who said that they felt the musicians’ gesture on the Titanic was an act of defeat and admittance that nature was going to win. An interesting thought but I see their act more of defiance in the face of adversity and also a magnanimous gift to relieve the last minutes of fear and sorrow for those who were about to drown. So ask yourself: what you can do for others today to unlock your calling. It doesn’t need to a big gesture; you can start small and see your gifting grow from there.