I have been walking with a few men wrestling with the age old question, “What do you do?” As men, this question haunts us. Let’s be honest. It is possibly the worst question ever. It is the ultimate one up question. It either creates pride or shames you. At the least it makes you take a step back and think about your identity whether you recognize it or not. Most of us don’t like it, yet we keep asking it. I do it out of habit. Maybe your identity is wrapped up in the answer to this question like mine is and you don’t even realize it.
I’m a dreamer. I have been since I was a kid. I always had at least three things I was going to “do” when I grew up. I wanted to be a pastor and a professional baseball player. But, my ultimate dream was starting Haasville, a one stop retail and service shop. It was called Haasville because it included a grocery store, home improvement store, bank, gas station, clothing line, etc… (Think Walmart, Home Depot, Kwik Trip (Quik Trip where I live now) and Kohl’s department store along with many service options). Yes, this was back in 1990.
In some groups the question is not, “What do you do?” The question becomes, “What is your calling?” You can see quickly that if the first question is hard to answer this next question seems impossible; or at least frustrating to the many people who are caught in the land between or who are just trying to get through life the best they can. “Uhh. What?”
Before we can answer either question I think we need to go back to some foundational questions, “What is your identity?” and “What is your purpose?” Maybe even, “Who am I?”
So often we think like “human doings” instead of “human beings.” Before we can go after the “doing” questions we have to go after the “being” questions.
The way we think shapes what we do.
So, who are you? I know I am God’s beloved. God loves me more than anyone in the world! How about you? Is this statement true or false for you? I now my Heavenly Daddy delights in me for who I am. I know my God only wants what is best for me. I know he will provide, protect and pray for me in ways I don’t even realize!
I am Jedidiah! I am God’s beloved.
I also know my purpose. God designed me perfectly to help others meet, know and follow Jesus. Did you know that God designed and purposed you too?
Now that I know my identity and my purpose I can go to the questions of, “What do I do?” and “What is my calling? Let’s all go here for a moment together.
Recently I listened to one of my favorite podcasters Michael Hyatt. He gave his audience a framework for identifying their calling in life so that they can win at work and succeed in life. He used three words, three circles or three legs of a stool to help people discover their calling in life.
Passion - What do you like doing?
Proficiency - What are you good at doing?
Profitability - Is there a market for what you like doing and are good at doing?
Wherever the three circles intersect is your calling, easy enough. So, spend some time mapping this out and go after it. You only have one life. Live it to the max. Listen closely, if you only have passion and proficiency, but no profitability, it is probably just a hobby. Keep searching. You will find it.
This is good wisdom. Yet, as I listened I felt he needed to back up and first ask the identity and purpose questions. Once you are confident in your identity and purpose your calling can become clear. Or better yet, you can be content in the job God as given you (the way God provides for you and your family).
So, back to the top. When someone asks, “What do you do?” What do you say? Is it awkward or frustrating? Do you fumble for the right words like me?
Maybe we could be human beings and reply with a simple identity response. Here is my new one, “I help people meet, know and follow Jesus.” Could be awkward, either way, I hope I can be a blessing to those around me. Clarity sure feels good. Remember, clarity produces confidence, out of confidence flows courage. Let’s be a courageous people.
What do you do?