Paul made his living as a tent maker. Jesus as a carpenter. Nobody remembers them specifically for these things. There’s an important message here for folks who believe that if you can’t make your passion your profit-maker, you’re failing.
I encounter this sort of thinking constantly, especially around the entrepreneurial online community. Just last week, I scrolled across a LinkedIn post urging others to “follow their dreams” rather than “settle” for less.
As I read on, I discovered this advice was written in response to a conversation with the man’s close friend, who felt that working a 9-to-5 and enjoying himself on the weekend was a satisfying life. It was obvious the post writer felt otherwise.
For a long time, I also felt otherwise. Over the past six years, as I sought guidance from business-focused and freelance writing-based online forums, I found myself steeped in language and sentiments expressing the superiority of marrying “profit with passion.”
The general principles of this belief system go something like this: Everybody deserves to feel fulfilled in their job. If you don’t, you should make a fast exit and stop wasting your life. If you’re working a 9-to-5, you are settling for less than your higher purpose.
These beliefs are flawed, my friends, and incredibly damaging. I believe that perhaps some people’s work aligns with their greater purpose. Not everyone’s. Paul’s greatest purpose wasn’t to be a tent maker. But he had to make a living while he pursued his Kingdom work. I doubt he felt he was “settling.”
I also don’t believe fulfillment is our highest goal and the thing we should be seeking. I think that sort of journey can lead us down a lot of confusing paths, because the goalpost of “feeling fulfilled” is always moving. Our task is to seek the Kingdom first. Follow Jesus toward the loving heart of God as we live out the community mandates of Romans 12 by the power of His Spirit.
This is the answer to “why” we are here — our purpose and calling. Our highest form of work. After all the very many winding roads I’ve been down to try and find any sense of meaning, this is the one to which I always return. I believe God’s promise that “all these things will be added to us” when we walk this road hand in hand with Jesus — the fulfillment, peace, and purpose we desperately seek. It just feels uncomfortable (and a little crazy) to say these things out loud.
I think somewhere along the way, we equated sticking with anything that doesn’t make us happy as “settling.” We don’t apply this same logic, however, to training for a marathon or eating a restricted diet to heal our bodies. For some reason, these goals are deemed more worthy than bringing home a paycheck that pays for our kids’ summer camp or a family vacation in Mexico.
There is honor in working a job that provides stability for yourself and/or your family. And it isn’t really your primary task to uncover your greatest passion or highest purpose, so remove that pressure from your shoulders. You weren’t designed to force your place in this world. You were designed to follow God as HE opens the doors and makes a way toward a mind blowing adventure to heights you never imagined.