Life Purpose vs. Career

A blog by my colleague Dr. Linda Ferguson.

In my book, “Path for Greatness: Work as Spiritual Service”, I describe a framework to see how your life purpose is fulfilled when you offer your gifts in loving service.

As a result of my book, I frequently have conversations with people looking for their life purpose.  Many mistakenly believe their life purpose is the same thing as having a rewarding or fulfilling career.  They aren’t necessarily the same.

Parable of the Ant

A group of friends went rock climbing on a beautiful sunny day.  Two would scale the wall at a time while the others waited below and supported the climbers.  As one pair ascended, about half way up, one of them slipped and hit her head on the stone.  She recovered her grip but realized that her contact lens had popped out.  Now with her eyesight blurry and uneven, she had to climb back down.  She yelled down to the group below to look for the contact lens.  She hoped on the long shot it fell near them in one piece.

After she and her partner came down to help with the search, they scoured the area for several more minutes to no avail.  The woman figured the contact was stuck on a rock some place or shattered to pieces on the way down.  She decided to enjoy the rest of the day at base camp while her friends took their turn climbing.

All during this time, a group of ants was busily carrying food crumbs from the climbers’ lunch area.  All of a sudden, a large object fell from the sky onto the back of one of the ants.  It nearly knocked the poor little ant over.  Not knowing what hit him, the ant picked himself up and kept walking, albeit much more slowly carrying this heavy object.

Minutes later the ant got really hot from the sun.  The heat intensified as the ant walked slowly back with the others. Nearly ready to collapse, the ant called out to the heavens, “Lord I don’t know why I’m carrying this heavy load, but I’d appreciate it if you could lift it from me.”

At that moment the woman noticed a flash of light.  She looked down in the grass and saw the ant carrying her contact lens.   Astonished she bent down to pick it up. It was still in one piece. She shouted with amazement to her friends and thanked the little ant for catching her contact lens.

Many times we have burdens to carry.  Some call this life.

Other times we have extra responsibilities.  Some call this work.

Many people feel like ants trudging through their day carrying crumbs home to their family.

Here’s my point.  The ant’s job was to help bring food to the colony.  Its job wasn’t to carry a contact lens.  Yet while in the process of doing its job, the ant fulfilled its life purpose.

Life purpose is much bigger than a job

Your life purpose may be to be the friend who listens well.  Your life purpose may be to be at one particular place at one particular time to catch someone who falls.

In a recent Shamanic Journey I led, one woman introduced herself and said she felt at odds with the mission of her workplace. After the Journey, this same woman shared about a phone call with a friend several weeks earlier.  She hadn’t heard from this friend in over a decade.

The friend was very distraught and told her he felt like he wanted to die.  After their nearly hour long conversation, he said he felt better.  The following day he sent her an email saying that he had intended to kill himself but out of the blue thought of her.  So he picked up the phone and called her.  He thanked her for saving his life.

Life Purpose may come out of the blue

I’m not saying that having a rewarding or fulfilling job isn’t something to desire or achieve.  I just want to remind people that your life purpose may come when you least expect it.

Your career or job doesn’t have to be your life purpose.  A job can be simply to get food, support your family, build a better community.  Your life purpose may come while you are in the process of your ordinary daily experiences.

Your life purpose may fall out of the sky and land on your back.  Or it may be that simple phone call from a friend.  Either way the key is to stay awake, pay attention to the small or not so small nudges of the Universe to help out or reach out.

 “May the beauty of who you are be what you do.  There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”    Rumi

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Do you have a colleague, friend or family member who desires to integrate their spiritual life and their work life?  Share Linda’s first book, “Path for Greatness: Work as Spiritual Service” as a gift. Available on Amazon- Click HERE

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