One of a Kind

If it’s tough to find a job these days, it can be near impossible to find (or make) one that suits the calling of your heart. Not that “the perfect job” is that readily available in better economic times. Research through the decades has consistently shown that a large percentage of working Americans are at least somewhat dissatisfied with their jobs: the reasons are usually related to minimal opportunities to do what they love doing; the feeling that their individual needs are disregarded “for the good of the company”; or both.

The problem is not dissimilar to the “peer pressure” that rears up long before working age. If your friends like rap music, you don’t dare let them know you prefer Chopin. If your buddies go out for football, you do too, even if you hate it. If  “grade grinds” are scorned in your crowd, you’re tempted to let your schoolwork slide. Conversely, if you have parents whose attitude is “straight A’s are everything,” you feel worthless if your brain refuses to master school curricula.

Whatever its manifestation, the basic issue is the same: feeling that since everyone else thinks this is the way, something must be wrong with you for not taking to it. Often the actual pressure comes from within; we assume others will laugh at us or reject us if we say what we really want–so we don’t even try, or we let it out in a self-effacing or defensive manner that provokes the very negative reactions we fear.

What J. B. Phillips referred to as “letting the world around you squeeze you into its own mould” (from his translation of Rom. 12:2) and the NIV 1984 renders as “conforming to the pattern of this world”–contrasted with the ability to understand and carry out God’s perfect will for oneself–is usually taken as a reference to going along with the crowd in sin. But–especially in light of the immediately following passage on discerning one’s own function and spiritual gifts–might it not also refer to the ability to reject the “good” where it interferes with God’s best for us? Don’t all too many of us turn first to our peers and our own desires, then to God as an afterthought, to decide how we “should” order our lives? Aren’t we making ourselves miserable by neglecting Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”?

If you’re tempted to moan that God whispers while everyone else is shouting, and that His will would be a lot easier to follow if He’d just state it outright–so am I. If you’re tired of waiting for your “daily bread” to find a steady and predictable inlet into your life because you’re waiting for the work God has for you instead of taking the first thing offered–so am I. We want the security of material provision to be well-defined and orderly, and above all, to come now.

God’s plan–more immediately stressful, but ultimately more fulfilling–is to build our faith and effectiveness by teaching us to wait and trust. Take a break from your striving, and quiet your mind to listen to Him.

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