3 Pathways to Your Purpose that Might Actually be Crossroads: Passions, Vocation or Calling?
I believe passions are clues to purpose. But are they enough to accurately reveal and effectively pursue purpose? Ancient wisdom from Ecclesiastes tells us, “He has put thoughts of the forever in man’s mind, yet man cannot understand the work God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, New Life Version). While you will never understand everything–the beginning to the end–in God’s mind, there is a piece of eternity carved out especially and uniquely for you. God intended that you ponder and question it so you would eventually discover and fulfill it. So how do you do that? How do you convert ponderings about the forever into confident direction for your immediate purpose? Three opinions on the answer include:
- identifying passions;
- finding the voice of vocation; and
- obedience to divine calling.
Proponents of the passions approach assert that by identifying, prioritizing and pursuing passions, you move in the direction of purpose. Passions, the things about which you care the most or derive the most fulfillment serve as breadcrumbs along the trail to destiny. The Attwoods have developed a process around this passions approach, which they detail in their book, The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny. But there are some who argue that identifying passions is not enough because some passions are temporary. Passions can change over time and thus, if the sole focus of your purpose pursuit, can lead you in the wrong direction for long-term destiny.
Vocation, on the other hand, is a long-term concept. It comes from the root words vocare, to call and vox, voice. Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation points out that instead of listening to others’ opinions of what you should be, it behooves you to listen to your inner, authentic self. Moreover, it is the discovery of your true, authentic self that facilitates fulfilling purpose. Ego of social status drowns out the voice of the true self. It mutes what the inner you speaks about life. Even the influence of the latest fads within the church can drown the voice of your true self. For example, some believers want to be apostles or prophets because it’s the latest fad and seems glamorous, even when their true self is an evangelist.
Obedience to Divine Calling
Unlike the voice of the inner self, divine calling is direction from the voice of God. The burning bush experience of Moses and the Damascus road experience of Saul are examples. In those moments, Moses and Saul encountered the God who had created them and written each day of their lives in the books of heaven (Psalm 139:16). They each had a choice to obey or disobey his divine instructions. They were called to fulfill works that had been predestined (pre- + destiny) or preordained.
Pathways or Crossroads?
Consider whether these 3 pathways to purpose are actually crossroads? Do they intersect or are they mutually exclusive? For example, was Moses’ disdain for injustice a masked passion for justice? Did this passion manifest via murdering an abusive Egyptian before it manifested in Moses as a national deliverer? Did the inner voice of vocation lead him to leave the palace, searching for authenticity among his Hebrew people? Years ago, my inner voice cried out for something more authentic. As a result, I resigned from Anderson Consulting to pursue a Master of Arts in Dance Education. Passion to lead and create intersected with my inner voice, sparking a writing career. Have passions, inner voice and divine call ever intersected in your life?
Lenita Reeves is an author, speaker, pastor, wife, mother of four children and is hooked on all things purpose. She spends her time writing, speaking, blogging and conducting seminars on discovering and maximizing purpose. Click to receive your free Letting Go on Purpose eGuide. And be sure to subscribe to all her blog posts at http://www.purposehouse.net.
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