When we search deep inside of ourselves to understand what makes us come alive, what do we find?
The answer doesn’t have to be holy in a conventional sense. In other words, it’s ok if analyzing statistics makes us come alive. It’s ok if we love painting the living room walls even if we’ve already changed the colors three times. There is nothing wrong with us if writing and blogging about personal finance, being a mom, or travel makes us come alive. If these things make us come alive, they will make us holy.
God gives us all many different gifts. With each of these gifts we have also developed deep desire to do certain work. Best of all, this doesn’t have to be “holy” work in order to make us holy.
Is there anything wrong with a calling to play poker professionally?
Have you ever seen the movie Rounders? I recently watched it for the first time in probably eight or nine years. The last time I watched the movie I was in college. I saw it for what I thought it was: a movie about the risks and rewards of playing poker.
Hollywood certainly appeals to the rush card players feel in gambling, but the movie presents a much deeper message.
In the movie Matt Damon’s character is a talented poker player and law student. He loses all his law school savings in one big hand and swears off gambling for life. But when an old friend re-enters his life, he can’t help but return to the game.
To justify a return to playing cards, he uses very telling words. He describes the experience of being around a game of cards for the first time in months just as we have framed it here: “I felt alive.”
The question Damon’s character wrestles with is this: Should I continue towards my safe and respectable career as a lawyer or follow my passion and skill as a professional card player?
Do we have the courage to ask our version of this question?
Do we pursue the career that society says is respectable but doesn’t make us come alive? One that our parents wish for us? One that our religion tells us is holy? One that will earn the respect of others? One that is safe? One that gives us steady work?
If we do, we may be giving in to the Resistance.
The key to answering this question, I think, is not so much the career itself, but the motivations for doing our work. When we pursue work that we don’t love, but earns the respect and admiration of others, our selfishness has gotten in the way of God’s will being made known. When we seek careers for the love of money rather than the love of work, we reject our true calling.
Each of us has been given a call that is found deep in our desires of love. To ignore these desires and live a life of indifference is rejecting God’s ever-present will for us.
Back to the movie. . .
Damon’s mentor, a judge and teacher, shares the story about how he became a lawyer. Growing up in the Yeshiva, it was assumed that he would become a great Rabbi one day. But despite his parent’s wishes and his community’s expectations he turned to the law. He gave up the “holy” career and chose one less respectable and less “holy.”
“We can’t run from who we are,” he says, “our destiny chooses us.”
Sometimes God calls us to careers and work that others won’t respect. In fact, others will accuse you of wasting your gifts, of becoming something other than they expect you to be.
Don’t be fooled. Holiness is not what society places on a pedestal. Holiness is not the path of pleasing others to gain their admiration and approval.
We are not all called to be ministers and monks, but we are all called to be a witness to God’s presence in our lives whether it be at a card table or computer screen.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)