Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why do you do what you do?

Put your feet up, get a cup of coffee, and get comfortable. This might take a while.

I mentioned in a blog post a little while back that we are known by what we do. I have 3 kids. So, I am know as ____'s Father. I am also a Husband, a Scout Leader, a Sunday School Teacher, a Charity Distance Running Coach, and an Engineer.

Why do we pick what we do, and do we do It because it is a part of us or because it is a duty in some way. I went to vocational school in High School and that pointed me toward Engineering. So, I guess that is as good a place as any to start.

vo·ca·tion (vo-ka'sh?n)
1. A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified.
2. An inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling.
[Middle English vocacioun, divine call to a religious life, from Old French vocation, from Latin vocatio, vocation-, a calling, from vocatus, past participle of vocare, to call; see wekw- in Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Since the American Heritage Dictionary brings in the religious connotation...

From Wikipedia,
The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. Particularly in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service to the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, Christian vocation includes the use of ones gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.

The idea of a vocation or "calling" has been pivotal within Protestantism. Martin Luther taught that each individual was expected to fulfill his God-appointed task in everyday life. Although the Lutheran concept of the calling emphasized vocation, there was no particular emphasis on labor beyond what was required for one's daily bread. Calvinism transformed the idea of the calling by emphasizing relentless, disciplined labor. In the Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536), Calvin defined the role of "The Christian in his vocation." He noted that God has prescribed appointed duties to men and styled such spheres of life vocations or callings. Calvinists distinguished two callings: a general calling to serve God and a particular calling to engage in some employment by which one's usefulness is determined.

I grew up in the Lutheran Christian tradition, and I was blessed with a girlfriend / fiancé / wife who challenged me to examine what I believe and why. In response, I dug into the commentaries on faith at the same time I was studying for my chosen career. As a result, my faith developed alongside my secular knowledge base. So, the idea "...that each individual was (is) expected to fulfill his God-appointed task in everyday life" is a part of who I am. My regular occupation, the one that I am particularly suited for is that of an engineer. My desire is to have an impact, to make a difference for those who can't help themselves.

That idea can find expression in any number of ways, but I think I'll go back to my current career. I work as an engineer for a company that does renovations for cutting edge technology. It is possible, even likely, that I could work for 6 months on a project that will be pulled out and replaced in a few years. My boss is a religious man. But he expressed his (and my) desire in a non-religious way. The desire is to make an impact, do work that will last even to eternity. (OK, the expression was not completely non-religious). With that idea in mind. He has allowed people in the company to share his burden for missions, and I have gladly joined that task.

Before I went to college, I worked in construction. Before I started at this company, I was able to spend a week in the slums of Mexico City helping to build a Church. Since I started with the company, I have been to Honduras, Guatemala, and Africa on trips that allowed me to use my knowledge of engineering to help improve the designs of mechanical systems in a Hospital, an Orphanage, a Crippled Children's Hospital and a Mission Center.

When I started on my quest to improve my physical condition and get off of the blood pressure medication, it was only natural that I would do this task for reasons that were more than simply personal. I went back to the running that I did in college. Running is great for me. I helps to clear my head and make me feel better. There is nothing like watching the sun rise during an early morning run along the beach. Except maybe watching the stars during a late night run. Closely behind, is the feeling of the sun on your shoulders during a lunchtime run when you have to clear out from work for a while. As good as all this was for me, it was not long before I was raising money and running to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training. It was not long before I found out that fund raising was not one of my talents, but involvement in Team in Training was the right thing to do. Just after my first season with Team in Training, the daughter of a close friend was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She is the same age as my middle son and I watched and prayed as she went through treatment and ultimately recovered. Since I was not able to effectively raise money, I found that I could coach and mentor other people who were better at raising money and still be part of the team that does so much to benefit those that suffer from Blood Cancers.

Still, I could not leave the fund raising completely alone. Last year, I ran the Houston Marathon to support my brother in his first Marathon and to raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of my Dad who was suffering from Colon Cancer and for Cody who is the son of a friend. Dad has completed his treatment and is doing much better. Cody is still fighting the Neuroblastoma. So this year, I will be running the Mississippi Blues Marathon and raising money for Band of Parents. Band of Parents (as the name implies) is a group of parents that advocate for their kids that are suffering from Neuroblastoma.

If you want to donate to these courageous parent who are taking initiative in finding a cure for the disease that is taking their kids, I would be honored. This tome is going to be posted on my blog as well as on the Master's Forum at Runner's World. If you are so inclined, there is a link at the end of my previous blog entry.

If you made it this far, think about why you do what you do. There are a friends that I hope are reading this that are social workers or teachers. I know that they did not pick their careers for the money. There are also stay at home parents out there. Their rewards are either less tangible or more tangible than most.

Beyond your career or your job, are you making a difference, are you building a legacy?

Colossians 3:17 (New American Standard Bible)
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.