“do what you’re good at.”

Earlier this week I linked to a thought-provoking post — You’re not meant to do what you love. You’re meant to do what you’re good at. A friend shared it on Facebook, and there was a bit of pushback in the comments. That got me thinking deeper about the subject — which is exactly why blog posts and Facebook are useful. The disagreement in the comments was of the “you shouldn’t crush anyone’s dream” variety. But I think the original blog post was a pushback against just that mentality. Our culture is functionally narcissistic — what makes me happy? what do *I* want to do? And hell hath no fury like a person who has been told he’s not good at something.

The more I think about the original post, the more I agree. We should be pointing our children in the direction of serving with their gifts and abilities (and helping them to find out what those are) instead of encouraging them to follow their hearts. See the difference there? One of those directions is others-focused and the other is self-focused. Yes, occasionally these two worlds collide, but not always.

I was raised to work hard and to aim for excellence at whatever job I held. And I’ve learned that I’m the kind of person who can make herself like just about any job. I’ve never held a mind-numbingly boring job, but some of the jobs I’ve had may well be mind-numbing to others. Sure, there are jobs I really don’t think I’d want, but if I had to to it, I think I could jedi-mindtrick myself into seeing the worth of it and digging in. I’m very grateful that the job I’m in now is challenging and interesting and never boring. But I never grew up thinking that my passion was balancing numbers or solving daily mysteries or replying to emails. As it turns out, however, that’s where God used my gifts and abilities and circumstances to put me to serve right now. It wasn’t my dream, but I’m glad about how it’s turned out. It’s satisfying to know that I’m where I’m supposed to be, even if that’s a different place than I thought I’d be.

I often counseled my children to find what they loved and to figure out how to get paid for it. There’s truth in that to be sure. But if I had it to do over again, I’d add the part about finding what you’re actually good at.

Just thinking a little this Friday morning…

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“…something that just happens to one, like measles.”

cslewisFrom A Year With C.S. Lewis:

People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change–not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there…

Another notion we get from novels and plays is that ‘falling in love’ is something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles. And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance. But I am inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books, at any rate when one is grown up. When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call ‘being in love’? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love: just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own fault.
–from Mere Christianity.

“It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run…”

cslewisFrom A Year With C.S. Lewis:

If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense–love as distinct from ‘being in love’–is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.
–from Mere Christianity.

“For happiness is not available to the immature.”

happinessFrom Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager:

The ultimate reason people take on a victim mentality is immaturity. It takes maturity to avoid tempting but destructive choices; it takes maturity to want to be in control of your life and not to be controlled; and it takes maturity not to allow yourself in times of crisis to wallow in self-pity.

The problem in our time is that maturity is not high on the list of goals we offer the next generation. We stress happiness, success, and intelligence but not maturity. And that is too bad, both for society, which suffers when too many of its members are immature, and for the individual who wants to be happy. For happiness is not available to the immature. And one of the prominent characteristics of immaturity is seeing oneself primarily as a victim.

“…a to-do list for this coming week.”

proverbs wisdomFrom Proverbs: Wisdom That Works by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.:

You probably have a to-do list for this coming week. Here are the priorities God wants at the top of your list in terms of urgency.

#1: Fear the Lord.

#2: Turn away from evil.

#3: As time permits, breathe.

That is the urgency of your life this week. It will add greatness to your life. It will add life to your life. It will save you from a wasted life.

“He will not submit to our schedule or agenda for our day.”

whatdidyouexpectFrom Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect?:

The fact of the matter is that change is most often a process and seldom an event. Change happens chaotically. It comes unannounced, in fits and starts. We don’t wake up and say, “Hey, I think I’ll create all kinds of change today.” Change is pushed upon us by a persevering Redeemer, who will not walk away from the work he has begun in both husband and wife. He will put the need of change before us in the most inopportune moments. He will not submit to our schedule or agenda for our day. He has not promised that change will be enjoyable each time or a comfortable process over the long haul. He has promised to stay near us, giving us everything we need, and he has guaranteed that we will be more than we ever thought we could be. (He will not cease working until we are like Jesus. Now, how’s that for a goal!) So, he calls us to be patient. He calls us to be willing to wait. He calls us to continue when continuing is hard, and as we are continuing, to look for any way we can to incarnate his transforming love.

“There’s no greater waste of energy than resentment.”

everydayprayersFrom Scotty Smith’s Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith:

To harbor resentment is nothing short of harboring a criminal, for resentment is bent on criminal activity: stealing peace, vandalizing sleep, robbing relationship, killing kindness, murdering hope, infecting the innocent with deadly toxins, to name a few of resentment’s crimes…There’s no greater waste of energy than resentment.

“Nothing else in all the world has this ability…”

takinggodFrom Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God At His Word:

The word of God is able to do many things–everything, really. God created by the word. Abraham was called by the word. The people were gathered as a nation at Sinai by the word. Their deliverance from Babylon was made firm by the word. Lazarus was raised by the word. The apostolic church was called into existence by the word. Throughout redemptive history we see God creating, cursing, calling, converting, gathering, blessing, equipping, threatening, and promising by his word. And in our personal history, we see the power of God’s word most clearly in its ability to save us (2 Tim. 3:15)

Scripture doesn’t tell us everything we may want to know about everything. But it tells us everything we need to know about the most important things. It gives us something the Internet, with all its terabytes of information, never could: wisdom. The purpose of Holy Scripture is not ultimately to make you smart, or make you relevant, or make you rich, or get you a job, or get you married, or take all your problems away, or tell you where to live. The aim is that you might be wise enough to put your faith in Christ and be saved.

Nothing else in all the world has this ability. The word of the president is important. The word of your parents is to be honored. The word of your spouse is to be treasured. But only the word of God can save. Only in Scripture do we encounter the fullness of God’s self-disclosure. Only in Scripture do we find the good news of the forgiveness of sins. Only in Scripture can we be led to believe in Jesus Christ and, by believing, have life in his name. Don’t think you have nothing important to say in the world.Don’t worry whether you have anything helpful to share with hurting and needy people. Don’t despair that there is no transforming power in your life. Keep going in the gospel, and keep growing in the Scriptures. They are more than able.

“…worry flows out of a distorted or incomplete view of His nature and character.”

overcomingFrom Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick:

Jesus really got down to brass tacks when He said, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Matthew 6:30, emphasis added). Little faith! Think about those words. The Lord equates our worry with a lack of faith.

Why does the Lord say that worry is unbelief? How does my worry reflect the level of my faith? My worryometer is also a faithometer; and in this case it isn’t my faith that’s red-lining–it’s my unbelief. Why is worry unbelief? Because it has its roots in doubt about God’s character. It questions His Fatherly care and provision. When I worry about what’s going to happen to my life, what I’m really saying is, “God, You can’t handle this. You’re either too weak, uninterested, unloving, or not smart enough to take care of my life. I’ve got to devote all my attention to sorting this situation out on my own.”

Got has directed His children not to worry; He’s classified worry as a sin. Why? Because worry flows out of a distorted or incomplete view of His nature and character. God has revealed Himself both in His creation and in His Word. We are obligated by this self-revelation to know Him as He is. Although we’ll never completely understand Him or be able to fully comprehend His nature, He’s given us everything we need to know about what we need to know. When we spend our days worrying, we’re disregarding what He’s told us about His perfect holiness, power, wisdom, and love. We’re saying, “I have to handle this because You can’t be trusted.”

Worrying is also sinful because it elevates our thoughts and abilities to a godlike position. When we worry we’re putting our trust in our thoughts and in our ability to “work things out” in our mind.

“God doesn’t want us to grow in self-confidence.”

overcomingFrom Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick:

(The context of this quote is Moses’ fear and reluctance to answer God’s call to go to Pharaoh.)

I can really identify with Moses’ fear, can’t you? I can’t do that…I’m not good at public speaking…but what if they don’t believe me. Can’t you just picture it? I can. In fact, I think I’ve had those kinds of conversations with the Lord. All along, God was encouraging Moses. He assured him of His presence and His power to accomplish His will. But all Moses could see was his own inadequacy, fear and unbelief.

Notice that God didn’t spend time trying to boost Moses’ self-confidence. Rather, God kept reminding him that he should put his confidence in Him. Whenever we spend time trying to convince ourselves that we’re really better or stronger or wiser than we know we are, we’re doomed to failure. God doesn’t want us to grow in self-confidence. He wants us to put all of our trust in Him. After all, He’s the only one who’s powerful enough to overcome the Pharaohs in our lives.

As Moses grew in his trust of the Lord, God used him to accomplish a great deliverance. In fact, Moses is now known as one of the greatest leaders in biblical history. But that wasn’t because he was such a brave guy all on his own, was it? It was only because of God’s great power and His determination to accomplish His purpose. And what God did for Moses, He can do for you. You can rest in the knowledge that if God is calling you to do something, even if it’s just being brave enough to go to church and speak with people, then His grace will be effective in your life, too.