Written by: Apryl Gehling, Kansas City Fellow – Class of 2015-2016
Yes, you are correct.
That title is inspired by Braveheart. =D
So, in thinking about what we want to do in life and what purpose our life serves, it can sometimes become overwhelming.
In terms of vocational calling, it is difficult to figure out what we are created to do with our personality and gifts, and how that fits into potential career paths. Sometimes I think the numerous options are the problem. Because of our misplaced pursuit of the “American Dream” or independent, self-made success story, the opportunities are no longer seen as a blessing but rather each job option is a means to achieving a life in which we never want for anything or need anyone. And so we must make sure whatever job we choose is going to fit this success model. That’s a lot of pressure.
This concept is completely contrary to the model of gospel-based kingdom living. In Christ, our identity is not shaped by success. The goal is complete dependence on God rather than self-reliance, and the mark of spiritual maturity is humbling ourselves to a place of vulnerability and needing the other members of the body of Christ. The gospel is a completely foreign concept to our world currently that says “Secure happiness and safety for yourself. Love is conditional and based on your performance and Image. ‘God helps those who help themselves.’”
We received some excellent advice recently at a lunch and learn: that in choosing a job, we should consider not just what we are passionate about but rather the question “Where can I contribute?” This brings the focus off of a search for our own satisfaction, and fulfillment through what we do. Instead, it brings God’s kingdom into focus as our primary calling (loving God and loving others) so that we can live into truth and love and build the kingdom no matter where we are. Then it doesn’t matter if we are in a job that others consider insignificant or “lesser”. We can understand God’s purpose in having us there and make it meaningful and joyful, fulfilling work. We can choose jobs based on what he designed us to do, instead of based on prestige to secure others’ opinions of us or based on power to ensure we always have our needs met.
If we live a life in which we never allow ourselves to have a need, how are we ever going to be able to see Him meet any need in our lives?
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom recently. Our theology class has been discussing racism, racialization, and our nation’s history of slavery. I’m realizing just how little we actually live into the freedom we have in Christ on a daily basis, due to our insane driven-ness to prove ourselves, to perform, to reach the top, to live the American dream, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make something of ourselves so that we feel our life has meaning, to achieve success. We impose this pressure on those we love too. That is the worst part.
We cling desperately to our chains because we do not believe in God’s goodness to provide all that we need and so much more. To give us life and life abundantly. So we live in stress and depression and fear. We answer 100 more emails before bed. We stay late at work just a few more hours. We don’t say that thing we really should’ve said in that meeting because it could be a career limiting move. We relentlessly pursue the life we think will make us happy and safe and make our lives mean something, give us everything we want out of life.
What Christ died to give us, the good news of the gospel, is freedom to say no. Freedom to find our life in Him instead. Freedom to not be conformed to the image of this world. To reject the world’s success model based on performance and instead choose one of dependence and weakness and trust.
Freedom to try hard at something and actually do well because there isn’t the fear of failing. And freedom to fail because we know that we have immense value in the eyes of our heavenly father, no matter what we do.
He says to seek first His kingdom for a reason. It is not a sales pitch. He isn’t a glory-monger. He doesn’t need more man power. He isn’t bribing us with benefits so that we will buy into his business.
It is for our good. He is saying “Please trust me. You will be so much less stressed, you will be so much less angry or depressed or afraid. You will find so much more joy and peace and hope and fellowship and purpose and overall well-being when you are not controlled by these other things driving you in life. Please let go. Those things can’t give you life. I can. I am.”