#20 – Not doing what you “should” Pt. II


Imagine this situation, which plays out every day on the hills around us.

A young child gathers firewood or fetches water. Getting older they’ll graze the family’s three goats if they’re a boy, or tend to younger siblings if they’re a girl. They help with tilling, planting, harvesting the family field. As they age, they find someone from not too far away to marry. They build a small house of mud bricks and hopefully acquire their own small plot of land to grow food to eat, and maybe some extra to sell. They have children. The cycle repeats.

What does God “want them to do” with their lives?

What are they being “called” to do?

What “should” they do with their lives?

Often the core of our concern for “what should I do” is a sense that we have a very specific and direct calling- usually associated with our work. We approach this concept quite differently than the original Biblical authors.

The prophet Micah said God wanted people to: “Act Justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God” {Micah 6:8}

Isaiah said God wanted his people to: “…break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts…. sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.” {Is 58:6-7}

When Jesus himself was asked what’s the most important thing I do in my life? He replied: “Love God. Love others.” {Matt 22:37-39}

“Yes fine, but what about ‘my calling’ – the thing/job/role I’m supposed to do? “

We’ve allowed a concept unique to modern, wealthy societies creep into our view of God’s calling when we think this way. In places like rural Burundi, if someone’s father is a sustenance farmer (whose farm is smaller than your garage) they will also certainly be a farmer.

This doesn’t negate that many of these people wish they (or their kids) could be something else. However, it doesn’t change the fact that for most of human history, the idea of choosing our own vocation is unthinkable. If you are a coffee farmer because your father was a coffee farmer, is there any sense in questioning whether God wants you to be a coffee farmer? Maybe you ‘should’ have been a teacher? But if that was never an option, is there any point in agonizing over what never was and never will be?

Why then do those of us with the privilege of exercising so much influence over our ‘work’, feel like we only have one ‘right’ choice to make? We think if we pick the wrong thing, God is not pleased, or at least disappointed.

Let’s start to view our ‘life’s calling’ as being an apprentice of Jesus, first and foremost. Then where we live, what we do for a job, what our home life is like – are all secondary issues. Actually, they are at best a distant second.

If we are called to love others, we can do that in any situation. We can do that as a stay-at-home parent, as an unemployed student, as a music teacher, as an aeronautics engineer, or as a bus driver. If you find yourself any place there are humans around, you have a calling right in front of you. Whether it’s your children, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, that guy who eats lunch at your table, or that woman who sits next to you on the commuter train every day.

Wherever there are people, there are hurts to be shared, stories to be heard. There are ways we can help or at least things we can do to show love.

“A new commandment I give to you: love one another.” -Jesus

That’s Jesus calling for those who want to be his apprentices. And the beauty is that it’s completely independent of any work or life situation.


Reflect on the following verses {taken from The Message version}:

Matthew 22:37-39 “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

1 Timothy 1:5 The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God

Micah 6:8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.

What do these say to you about your ‘calling’ – about what you ‘should be doing’? Think about those already present in your life that you can love better. There is no need to go looking for a new/better calling – start with the one you already have.


Forgive us Lord for waiting to hear from you, when you have already said so much.
Forgive us for demanding a calling, when you have already made so much clear.
Forgive us Lord for thinking there is a limit on how we can serve you,
when we can follow you wherever we are.
Give us courage to act with justice, hearts to extend mercy, and humility to walk with you.