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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, February 9

I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
—Ephesians 4:1

My Word-a-Day calendar defines career: "to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner." I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know that career could be used as a verb! Apparently career and careen both mean to move at high speed, but careen can also mean to sway from side to side while career is to go fast and straight toward something.

I have spent most of my life in headlong "careering": toward graduation, accomplishing goals, having a family, getting a degree, and even, God help me, toward getting ordained. I don’t think I am unusual; I think most Americans "go at top speed" most of the time. We hurry, we do too many things at once, we career through days and weeks at dizzying speed.

When Paul writes to the Ephesians, he uses the word calling, as in vocation. We are called to live with integrity and to work with dignity.

We are not "called" to go at top speed; it takes time and peace of mind to discern what one is called to do. I don’t imagine any of the MBA programs offer seminars on the difference between calling and career, but perhaps they should.

Theologian Frederick Buechner, one of the best wordsmiths ever, wrote the now famous definition of vocation: when your passions intersect with the world’s needs. Another word for that might be bliss. It certainly wouldn’t be the verb career.

Slow our pace, gracious God, and guide us toward our callings. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.