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How To Find Your Calling (1/2)

10/24/2017 | 5 Minute Read | Author: Nate Carden

What is work without meaning and what is life without purpose? These are the questions that my generation is trying to answer. We are discontent with any job that does not allow us to contribute because we can see that this life is all we got and we have decided that there is no sense in wasting our energy on meaningless work. We want our lives to make a difference to someone or something.

My parents generation and their parents generation seems to have found their purpose in providing for their families. They cared little about what line of work they were in as long as they earned a paycheck. The end result has been that my generation has seen all of its needs provided for and more!

We who are now entering adulthood have so many opportunities open to us that it is hard to determine which path will lead us to ultimate fulfillment (which is what we want, right?! Nobody wants to be just “a little fulfilled”). In the West, whether we realize it or not, we have been raised in total affluence. If you are wondering where we sit in regards to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is definitely at the top of the pyramid, seeking self- actualization. For the most part we are well-fed, safe, loved, confident and left looking for fulfillment.

With the American dream in our hearts and the help of scholarships, trust funds, or a lot of debt, my generation is faced with the ultimate dilemma: too many choices! Where in all the world do I go to school? What will I study? Who will I marry? Where do I want to live when I graduate? And finally, how will I contribute to the world? Having options is great, but only up to a point. Too many choices can easily overwhelm and paralyze and keep us from making a decision. We become afraid of commitment. If and when we decide anything, we are filled with doubt and regret wondering if we made the right choice. Was there a better or more fulfilling job than the one we chose? Are we with the right person?..etc. We think, “if God has a perfect plan for my life and He blessed me with certain gifts and abilities, I sure wish He would come down and give me some clear direction!”

I think that our purpose in life is two-fold and that the distinction is found in the difference between God’s will vs. His calling for our lives. Our calling has more to do with vocation whereas God’s will is more all-encompassing. God’s will is that we know him (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as our Lord. I have found that God is more concerned that we learn His will for our lives than His calling on our lives. Living our calling is truly fulfilling, but learning God’s will usually comes first.

At almost 33 years old, I have finally discovered my calling but it took years of God correcting my knowledge of who He is and my vision of reality. He usually does this through unmet expectations in vocation or relationships.

Six years ago, not even a year into my first job, I became discontent with the city I was living in and the career that I had chosen. As I was floundering in frustration, I received an email from my brother Chris that became the starting point for my path to purpose. I will share with you the important points of our little powwow.. Hopefully it will help point you in the right direction like it did me.

From: Carden, Nathaniel L 1stLt USAF ACC 1 MDSS/SGSL To: Chris Carden Date: Monday, March 9, 2009, 6:37 AM

Chris, hey man, good to hear from you. I have a lot weighing on my mind and soul at the moment bro. The month of February has been very eventful to say the least, filled with up and downs. I just returned from a ski trip to Canada with Kevin and a trip to New York to visit a friend. Coming back to work has been incredibly difficult. I’m sure that hospital administration is not what I want to do, I want to get out and start the restaurant business (which I know isn’t the smartest thing financially to do right now). I just feel like I am being held back, like I could be doing a lot more. I think to myself “I don’t see a future in the air force so why stay in?” Is it like staying in a relationship with a girl I know im not going to marry?

I am having a hard time adjusting to life in Hampton as it is not the most happening city! I was spoiled by the constant stimulation of Paris. I have heard that I need to be content with where I am, make some Christian friends and so on but I don’t really know how to do that, nor do I think the solution is that simple.

Nothing cracking on the girl front. I’m sure people in other cities might say the same thing about where they live, but I speak the truth when I say that this area is not ideal for the young and single.

I have a lot of ideas that I could try and implement even while still in the Air Force but I seem to be just spinning my wheels.. I have thought of doing a tv show entitled “dream jobs in the military.” I could interview attachés who live in mansions, fighter pilots, and combat rescue officers…etc. There are military members stationed in Germany, Italy, Spain, and even Australia.. It would be a recruiters golden ticket!

So as I said, a lot on my mind. I love you bro, hope you are well.


From: chris carden
To: Carden, Nathaniel L 1stLt USAF ACC 1 MDSS/SGSL Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 2:05 PM

hey bro

Glad to hear back from you. I can understand what you mean about being bored and I can’t really see you doing that type of job for too long either. I think you definitely can’t wish away this time though. What are your goals for your time in VA?

Man I know it can get real lonely and you can doubt your purpose and ask what the heck you are doing there, but my suggestion is to find some service or volunteer work that you can do for no other reason than to get your mind off yourself for a little while. I don’t really know what to suggest, except something like a homeless shelter or working with foster kids or something. I think it would be good to gain some perspective on life and what it is that really motivates you. I don’t think anyone can ever find purpose and satisfaction when pursuing the fulfillment of their own ambition. I mean I don’t have all the answers but I am just throwing out some suggestions.

Is your AF commitment over after this assignment? I really wish you could find a mentor out there in that area who you look up to and who has done amazing things for God.

I agree that constant stimulation is very addictive. It is amazing how uneasy it feels to be alone with our thoughts sometimes. Again, I don’t really know what to suggest. All great stories and movies seem to be about people who do things out of the ordinary…stop and have lunch with a homeless person, ask friends and co-workers the awkward/deep questions of life and then get involved in their lives in ways others never would, when you brainstorm about these things what comes to our mind?

I just don’t know if a narrowly focused hunt for a job/girl that fulfills your wildest dreams will ever amount to much… what do you think?

Bro I am praying for you everyday. I know this is going to be a very difficult time in your life and I think probably the most pivotal. I see you at a strategic fork in the road in your life: one path is your own… a frantic search for your own fulfillment, the other path has destinations and roads unknown, full of many more questions, doubts and probably difficulties. But I think if you chose this path, which means letting go of whatever it is that haunts/tantalizes your dreams and chose to say “God where are you moving right now cuz I want to be involved” I think you will stumble upon everything that you hoped to find.

Let me know if you think I am way off track here. I am just trying to offer the best insight from what I can see a couple thousand miles away.

Love you too, Chris

We all want to know our purpose, what we are supposed to be doing. The purpose of anything is found in fulfilling what it was designed to do. A boat’s purpose (determined by a boat-maker) is to travel from point A to point B over water. The only way to find our purpose as humans it is to get to know the person who designed us…God.