Thursday, 29 March 2007

The career path

That last joke was chosen deliberately, as I've been thinking a lot about careers and vocations recently.

During the first ten years or so of my twenties, I was as poor as a church mouse. I did voluntary work and always managed to make myself available to friends or relatives who needed help.

Then I hit my twenty-eleventh birthday and thoughts of pensions and security started to creep in. After much soul-searching, I decided on a new career with much greater earning power. Four years later, I was frequently working from 6:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night, and felt that I was doing nothing worthwhile with my life.

One day, I got talking to a partner in the firm. He had lived a very interesting life, which included some time spent working with disadvantaged teenagers. This struck a chord, and I asked him, "How do you reconcile what you're doing now with the worthwhile stuff that you used to do?" (Tact and diplomacy have always been among my strong points.)

He replied, "Simple. I'm good at what I do now. I was rubbish at what I did then. However much I wanted to help those teenagers, or to be a doctor, or do any of the other more 'worthwhile' jobs that I thought of, I knew that there were other people who were much more capable than I was of doing those jobs. But those people may not be particularly good at earning money. So as I see it, my job is to do the best I can at what I'm good at, which happens to earn me a lot of money, and then give as much of that money as I can to the people who need it to enable them to do the worthwhile jobs that they're good at."

As a child, I always imagined that by this stage in my life I would be married and would be a stay-at-home mother to seven or eight children. I never wanted to be a career woman - in fact, I secretly despised women who had chosen a career over a family.

Well, the life I've had so far is not the life I would have chosen. There have been many turning points when I didn't know what would happen next, and was as surprised as many of the people around me when I made the decisions that I did. But looking back at the path that I've taken, I think I see the plan God had for me up to this point. A lot of things have come together recently, and my new life is the sum of the parts of what went before.

I would still dearly love to be a mother one day, but maybe one of the reasons I had to take this route was to teach me not to be so judgemental of other people whose lives are different from what I think of as the ideal.

We don't all have the life we'd choose for ourselves, but we can all make the best of the life we're given and the opportunities for service that present themselves in that life. And surely being the best we can be, loving the life we're given rather than regretting the one we don't have, and serving God in the way that He has chosen for us to serve Him, is the best way to happiness and contentment.

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