Trading Your Career for a Calling: Another Lesson from My Heart Failure

In previous posts I’ve shared the miracle of my recent unexpected heart failure and God’s faithfulness in the process. Today I’d like to challenge you with something a bit different: shifting from career to calling. 

One night during my hospital stay, I found myself needing to get the attention of my nurse. It was the middle of the night and I couldn’t find the call button. I reached to both sides of me but it was nowhere to be found. I began to call out to the nurse. The door to my room was cracked, but I couldn’t get her attention. 

Finally, in desperation, I looked for something to make some noise. All I could find was the plastic urinal container in arms length next to my bed. I grabbed it and began banging it against the side of the table. Thankfully it was empty. Louder and louder I hit it until I finally got someone’s attention.

When the nurse came into my room, she almost scolded me for my actions. I told her I would have gladly buzzed her but the call button was nowhere to be found. She said, “It’s right here.” And then began frantically looking for it. It wasn’t “right here.” Finally she found it tucked out of reach and placed it beside me. She took care of what I needed and things quickly settled down.  

For some reason this particular nurse never got things quite right. She was often in a rush, didn’t ask questions, and left things undone. Multiple times I had to buzz her (when the buzzer was in reach) to ask her to close my door, turn off a light, help with medications…the list went on. One night while I was lying in bed, it suddenly hit me. Her job is just that…a J-O-B. It was a paycheck. There was little sense of calling or excellence. 

Unlike this nurse, others had traded their career for a calling. Take Deb for instance. Deb worked the night shift. During her first shift with me as a patient, She told me as she was leaving the room, “Oh, and I pray for all my patients.” With that she closed the door. Over the next couple of nights, she was meticulous in her attention to details. She was gentle, kind, and compassionate. She asked if there was anything I needed. I rarely had to buzz her because she got things right the first time.

Here’s what’s amazing. Deb was going through her own crisis. Her husband had recently left her and her mother had recently passed away. Yet despite her own world of unexpected misfortune, Deb saw her job as a calling. She served sincerely and with excellence. My last night in the hospital was my birthday. That night Deb brought me a birthday card that all of the nurses had signed. Simple gestures of kindness that made all he difference in the world. That’s the difference between calling and career.

Then there was Peggy. Peggy certainly didn’t have the highest paying job on the hospital staff. Part of her responsibility was bathing the patients. If you have a modest bone in your body, all modesty is stripped away in circumstances like this. There I was, naked and in pain, getting my first shower in days. I couldn’t wash my body or my hair. And yet Peggy served with kindness and compassion. As water poured over my body, I said, “Peggy!” “Yes” she said in her southern accent. “I don’t know how much money you make, but they should double your salary.” She smiled with a gentle laugh. What was a thankless job was a calling for this precious lady.

Other nurses had a genuine smile and a cordial personality. Another told me how she volunteered at her church with a special nursing program. And my cardiologist told me he was following my progress each day while I was in the hospital, praying for me to fully recover.

Career or calling? When you understand your life purpose, your calling becomes clear and your life is infused with new passion. Calling isn’t just for pastors. God calls people to every field imaginable. What’s your calling? Are you pursuing it. Do you carry it out with excellence? Don’t live your life trapped in the mundane when you can leverage your gifts, passions, and skills for a calling from your Creator.