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What is your calling?

As the year ends and most of us spend some time away from work, we should cast an eye back. What is the actual work we did in 2015? Was it the work we should have been doing – or something else altogether?

By the work you should be doing, I am referring to your calling. Your job description is not your calling. A calling is something far deeper. It is the true work that your chosen vocation entails. It is the mission you are given the privilege to deliver to the world; it is the duty that you must uphold.

Now then. Do you know what your calling is?

If you are a doctor, your calling is to save lives, to prevent illness, to improve the health of your people. That is what all those years of education were intended to equip you to do. Your calling as a doctor is not to become a businessperson making a killing out of misery; nor is to become a wheeler-dealer investor who breaks bread with tycoons. You were meant to be better than that. But too often, you aren’t.

If you are a teacher, your calling is to ignite the quest for knowledge in your students. Your success lies in building them up, not yourself. If you run an educational institution, you are given the unique duty of nurturing future societies. Your mission is not to become a property developer and stockmarket investor; those activities are tangential to your purpose. They are not the core.

If you are a judge, your calling is to stay independent and objective in your judgements, detached from the vested interests of those who appear before you. It is not your calling to make money out of those who pass through your court; nor is it your purpose to play eighteen holes every Friday with assorted swindlers.

If you are a policeman, your calling is to protect and provide safety. Your given duty is to be the person society turns to when criminals strike. It is no part of your duty to be richer than the crooks of this world, nor to be the enabler of felonies and misdeeds.

If you are a business executive, your purpose is to do a job in the lives of your customers, to solve a problem or fulfil a need in society. In so doing, you will also provide careers and growth to your employees; and returns to your shareholders. It is not in your remit to participate in procurement scams that weaken your corporation while making you richer than drug lords.

You can add all the occupations I don’t have space for: lawyers, politicians, consultants, auditors, architects, engineers, regulators…

Too many of us are only paying lip service to our professions and vocations. We are losing ourselves to the single-minded pursuit of Mammon. We crave elite status and the trappings of power. We have forgotten the nobility of our work. We want to be richer than moguls, more famous than celebrities, more powerful than presidents. In this, we forget the great inherent value in our work, if done well and with great commitment. There is plenty of reward in work done properly, both material and intrinsic. But greed has consumed too many.

Ten guys walk into an expensive bar. Can you tell them apart? The priest is dressed just like the pimp. The university don rode in sporting the same wheels as the drug kingpin. The doctor is buying more expensive rounds than the property developer. The police boss is discussing insider stock tips with the investment analyst. The news anchor is trying to get the waitress’s number before the magistrate does.

All are lost in the worship of opulence and the habit of bragging. Not one is worth a moment’s conversation, as not one contains a jot of wisdom or enlightened thought.

Life is a bigger deal than that. Work is best driven by a clear calling, a sense of duty to the world. We once revered those who work well, who create great products, who solve problems, who set standards. Now, each is trying to be a bigger hustler than the next.

Some are still true to their calling. In 2016, keep an eye out for them. They will save us in the end.

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