Super Bowl Heart: Longing and Calling for Meaningful Careers

February 6, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of CharacterPrint Print

$2,700,000 for 30 seconds of air time for Super Bowl XLII? That price tag is enough to make your heart jump right out of your chest!

Sunday night the heart that jumped out with an “I Quit!” message for the boss (in the ad for CareerBuilder.com) represented the collective heart beating in the chest of every American fed up with his dead-end job. CareerBuilder.com shocked those hearts into realizing that there is more to a job than just working for the weekend.

In every heart there beats the sincere desire for satisfaction, purpose and fulfillment—dare I say “calling”—in one’s career. I had the opportunity recently to talk about calling with Howard Dayton on Crown Financial Ministries’ nationally syndicated radio talk show “Money Matters.” I have talked about calling before on national radio and have been interviewed by the Washington Times. Each time, the national response has been immediate and overwhelming. I have been inundated with e-mails and phone calls, with stories from yearning hearts.

Those heart-wrenching life stories came from all over the United States, from Buffalo, San Diego, Dallas and Chicago, from single moms, career professionals and average American employees stuck in the grind.

What set their pulses racing? What made their hearts skip a beat, allowing them for a moment to think that they could find joy in their jobs? In a word, calling.

Each of us has been created with special gifts, talents, abilities, passions and skills. Each combination makes us who we are. Each unique talent is given for a purpose and is to be developed for excellence. Calling is the intersection between this unique design and the needs of the world around us. Calling is the stewardship of using that tangible design in meaningful employment.

Sixty to eighty percent of American workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. Today’s college graduates are projected to have eight to nine different jobs during their careers. Job dissatisfaction is today’s cultural norm.

What a tragedy! Work is no longer a calling, but merely a means to an end.

A job allows us to pay our bills, subsist, buy pleasure, feed our egos, and fulfill our materialistic desires for status and position. Most people accept the first job they are offered based on convenience, salary, minimum job performance expectations and even fear.

A calling allows us to achieve our life’s purpose. A calling allows us to pursue not empty titles, but testimonies—testimonies of how we have used our gifts and talents for the betterment of others and to make a difference.

Corporate recruiters tell me that calling is the key to finding exceptional employees. Being able to match career and calling results in enormous advantages for both the employee and the employer. Research on career and calling in career development industry journals like the Encyclopedia of Career Development reveals mutual benefits such as: greater mastery of work and sense of purpose and optimism; better psychological and physical health; higher overall life satisfaction; greater satisfaction from work than from leisure; not working for material rewards; and not looking to retirement.

Post-9/11 brought with it the interesting phenomena of people quitting their jobs because they wanted “something more.” They wanted to be fulfilled in their work each day. They wanted to be more than a mechanistic role player just going through the motions. They wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves and their selfish wants and basic needs.

In a word, they wanted a calling.

Knowing who we are, knowing how we are wired, is the bedrock of finding career fulfillment.

I’m not a cardiologist, but CareerBuilder.com’s Super Bowl ad, combined with those calls and e-mails, are symptoms of a long-standing national malady: being a misfit in the marketplace.

The only cure for this malady is to uncover and pursue your calling. Until you understand your design and purpose, until your heart leaps out of your chest and says “life is too short” to just exist in a job, you never will be satisfied in your career.

James Thrasher

James Thrasher

Dr. Jim Thrasher is the director of Grove City College’s career services office and the coordinator of the Center for Vision & Values working group on calling.

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