“Miss O’Connor, why do you write?” And I said, “Because I’m good at it.”Mystery and Manners p. 81
Now there are plenty who write who are not good at it. But her point is a broader principle. We should do what we’re good at unless there’s a compelling reason not to. Hopefully this is true for the dentist and the car mechanic and the gardener. Why do you work on teeth or cars or in the dirt? Because I’m good at it.
However, very few are prodigies. It takes work to get good at something, so the beginning motivation may be “Because I like it.” But that’s no excuse not to get good at it, so that in the end, we might be able to say with equal vigor and truthfulness, “Because I’m good at it and because I like it.”
But each of these must be subservient to a higher good, a greater good. Our vocation—not just a job—but our calling, first and foremost is a calling from God. As Os Guinness points out, our calling is much greater than just a job. For if our identity is wrapped up in merely a job, when that job comes to an end, what does that say of our meaning on earth? No, our job may for a time align with our vocation or calling, but it is subservient to our calling. For example, I have been called to teach. That has looked like everything from social studies to 4th graders to Latin to high school kids to Greek to seminary students to theology to pastors to the Bible to the good folks at Christ Community Church. But it’s also looked like conversations about mushrooms and politics. I’ve had jobs that have had little if anything to do with teaching, but that has not changed my higher calling and thus it should have had no bearing on my identity or worth.
But all along, I have sought to improve how I teach. I have not simply rested on “Because I’m good at it”—nor do I think O’Connor did either. Nor does that mean that at some point God won’t say, “You’re done teaching. I’m calling you to something else.” So far he hasn’t. He may never or he may tomorrow. For there is a greater calling than even teaching: it is to love the Lord with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. That can be done with any calling or with almost any job.