My first job after high school was at First National Bank in Louisville.
I started in the mail room and worked my way up and into the computer room as an operator on an IBM mainframe, then into the transit department (the place where checks you write are processed so that your account can be debited), and finally into the branch system, first as a teller and then, after earning my undergraduate degree in history, as a management trainee.
In five years of full and part time work, I learned a lot about banking and business, and I'm grateful for that experience and knowledge. The lessons I learned at the bank helped me in other work I've done, including as a manager at a large public relations agency.
But banking and PR were not my calling, and by calling, I mean something that fires one up with passion (I've known plenty of people for whom business is their calling, which is great. But that wasn't the case for me.).
For me, I needed work in which I felt I could make a difference for the good in people's lives, given my particular gifts, sensibilities, and faith in Christ. I wanted to be one through whom God the Holy Spirit could work for transformation.
I don't mean to sound grandiose, but unless we're working in something that offers us and others that possibility for transformation, then perhaps we should seek other work.
And, God knows, that work might be in banking or PR or at a school or hospital or factory or in the home--but wherever it is, that's where one believes that one is making a contribution to a better world.
This afternoon, I had coffee with a church member who's a wellness coach. This is something that she trained a long time to do. She earned a master's degree in wellness and went through a lengthy certification program to become a licensed coach.
As she spoke with me about her work, she gestured; her voice rose; her eyes brightened; she smiled. She had the enthusiasm of an evangelist who shares with others the Good News of the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.
Chris has found her passion--her Christian vocation--and helping people achieve a greater state of wellness or wholeness, what the Hebrew Bible calls "shalom," is what God intends her to do with her life.
That's what I was missing when I was a banker and PR person, but what I now find in my vocation as a priest: work about which I feel enthusiastic and energetic, work to which I'm devoting my life and which is, at the same time, giving me life, even on those inevitably frustrating days.
Here's to work that fires people up and that transforms lives and the world, even if it's only in some small, even hidden way.