Thursday, May 18, 2017


James Herriot, veterinarian, writes:

"As a child, I was fascinated by dogs and had a burning ambition to be a dog doctor. . . ."

His schooling began in the 1930s, when veterinary medicine concentrated on large animal practice: horses, cows, oxen, the mainstays of animal husbandry on farms of that era. After finishing his education, Herriot went to Yorkshire to practice. And never left. He spent several decades with larger animals; only later could he concentrate his practice on small animals, especially his beloved dogs.


A doctor I know who has been practicing about 25 years counted medical people among her relatives. Along with her early passion for science, she was encouraged to follow her dream of becoming a family practice physician.

A long-time friend recalls his early struggles to settle on a profession. In his teens he was unsure whether medicine would be his life's work (college chemistry decided that question); or perhaps the church. Following college he and his friends enlisted for military service because the U.S. was in the midst of the Korean Conflict. By the time my friend returned from duty, he had decided to study law, and has practiced successfully for 60 years.

I've known more than one member of the clergy who came late to a call to serve God's people through the church. One had been a teacher; another worked in U.S. government offices; a third was a homemaker and teacher.

What is a calling? How do you recognize it?

Dictionary definitions include: an inner urge; a strong impulse. And, an occupation, profession, or career.

Most likely, we all experience some kind of inner urge or strong impulse. It may be for a season--a calling to excel in academics, sports, the arts in our schooling.

It may be for a longer time--such as what parents feel during their children's growing-up years: a need for a good job that helps pay the bills, a sense of the support required for a spouse or child, a safe home for the family.

The sense of a calling may change with our maturing:

--nurturing a young family
--care-giving for older family members

--working at charitable events
--sharing our skills without pay

--directing a large project as a career
--volunteering our skills to benefit a community or organization

You may be one of the lucky, or blessed, ones who hear a distinct call to be/become/do something that is just right for you. If you don't hear that clear voice calling, think about the activities you're drawn to. Are you a leader? Or an assistant? Long-term, short-term? Like to work alone? Or prefer to be part of a group?

What I believe is this: if it's something that you've always wanted to do--no matter what happens--then do it. Here are some further thoughts to ponder: Don't expect it to be problem-free. Don't expect other people to encourage you; or admire you; or help you through tough times.

A calling is for the long haul--the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent, even the impossible. Find the Good, as Heather Lende says. 


  1. This is interesting. I'm not sure I've ever felt a true calling, although there are things I'm sure I was meant to be. Hmm...

  2. We shy away from naming it a calling. Used to be that was only for the church. My tendency is toward helping...I'd rather assist than be the lead dog.