Finding my Calling in Life

tim chan —  November 8, 2011 — 5 Comments

Two weeks ago I was at a dinner discussion hosted by the Acumen Fund. Our topic of conversation for the evening was “Living a Life of Purpose.” Questions that came up during the course of dinner were, “What is Life’s Purpose and how do we find our purpose?”, “Who decides what our purpose is?”, and “Do we have one or more purposes in life?”. All good questions.

The Christian version of Life Purpose is Calling. For those that believe in God, we believe that God created us with a purpose, and gives us each a “calling”. And I have been on a journey of understanding my calling for the last 10 years. Have I found it? Yes and no. I believe I have gained more clarity in my calling as I have grown older and matured, but I feel like there is more that God will reveal to me in the future as well. Here are a few things that have helped me in discovering my calling in life:

1) Trying new experiences and discovering who I am
Over the past 8 years I have worked in five jobs in two organizations. I have been a part of four churches communities (one which I helped to start from the ground up) and served in many roles within those churches. And in each new role (whether paid or volunteer), I have learned something new about myself. Things that I am good at, things that I am terrible at. What I am passionate about, and things I could care less about. What work environment I need to work at my best, and which organizational cultures stifle me. These are all things I did not know about myself after I graduated from university.

2) Taking extended times for reflection and listening
To make the most of a variety of experiences, I believe that you have to take time to reflect on what you have learned in the experiences. When I turned 25, I took 6 months off to travel in Asia. Part of the purpose of this trip was to take a step back from my life in Vancouver (work, church, people) and reflect, pray, listen, journal, read, and figure out next steps for my life. When I turned 30, Olive and I took a month Sabbatical in Victoria and again reflected on our lives. Through those times of reflection I discovered more of who I am and what God is calling me to.

3) Listening and learning from the perspective of others
You may have heard of the concept of the Johari window. This idea says that people that are close to you see a side of you that you yourself cannot see. Listening to their perspective of you can help you understand yourself better. I’ve learned alot about myself through my regular interactions with my wife, my family, my friends, and my mentors. As they get to know me, they come to understand me. I take time to ask them questions about what they see in me, and I learn alot about myself and God’s calling on my life.

So what is my calling in life? One way to understand this is to think about where my passions, my skills, and the needs of the world intersect. But I will explain this more in my next blog post, so keep on reading.

What have you found helpful in your journey of discovering your calling or purpose in life?

  • I remember reading from “The Way of the Superior Man” that sometimes we have a missions in life, and not necessarily just one. That we have a temporary mission in life and then it’s time to move on. And somehow thinking that we all have one particular mission in life may not be the best way to live. For many they are steps that build upon each other that later reveal itself.

    I think to me, it’s learning to find ways to be happy and progressive. And that’s always the start of my journeys I find.

    Good blog post by the way. Really enjoyed reading it Tim.

  • Great post, Tim! I thought I was the only one who didn’t figure myself out before graduating university. Looking forward to future posts by you and Olive *subscribed*.

    • Tim

      Thanks Peter! It’s definitely a process of finding out who I am and discovering what my calling is. Things get clearer with time and experience.

  • thanks for the comment Vincent! i agree that there are seasons in our life where we are to pursue separate goals or missions. but i also sense that there is a greater mission for my life – a mission that will not change, a mission that is even bigger than my life that i hope to pass on to future generations, a mission that i will give my life to.

    hey Peter, great to hear from you! i feel like the 20s was a crucial time period for me to experiment, reflect, and consider my calling in life. now that I’m 30, I feel like I have a much better idea what that calling is, but there that it will be refined in years to come as I move forward towards it.

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