How can I serve God and still have a paycheck?

How can I serve God and still pay my bills? A University student posed this question to me as we waited to package meals for the homeless. I nodded in sympathy, he wasn’t the first to ask this question.

We went on to discuss what it looks like to live out our beliefs through action. We want to act on our calling. However, if I’m called to serve meals to the homeless, I may end up doing nothing else and become homeless myself. Where’s the balance (and did I really need a college degree for that?)?

Our culture asks a lot of questions about career versus calling. We want to know our purpose, our reason for being. We also want stability, to live in hope that our bills will be paid, food will be on the table, and we can take a vacation every once in a while.

I believe that our career and calling aren’t necessarily the same. A career is what we do. A calling is who we are.

I remember going to dinner with a church leader and talking about this very thing. As I caught him up on my life, I mentioned that I began another application for grad school. “I feel like I’m being drug into grad school, kicking and screaming”, I said, as I held back tears. With compassion, my friend responded, “is that the way God usually works in your life?”.

Those words hurled my anxiety into the Cumberland River. As we talked about what I thought I was supposed to do with my life and how I felt like I was failing, my friend continued with these words, “your career doesn’t have to be your calling. Your career can help you accomplish your calling.”

Well, that’s a different way of thinking.

With this logic, I could be “called” to rescue slaves, but I don’t have to be Aaron Cohen. I could work at a fast-food restaurant to pay my bills, and fight slavery on nights and weekends. Or, I could be the CEO of a high-profit company, and give my money to people like Cohen, as well as make sure that my company practices fair trade.

I  never went to Grad school, by the way. While I agree that it would be a good idea, every time I consider it, I can’t go through with it. Instead, I choose to practice my skills on small scales, learning as I go and giving all I can.

I’m convinced that we all play a role in the significance of the world. I’m also convinced that our “calling” isn’t keeping itself a secret from us. You already know who you are and what you were meant for. Go, and do that thing.

Go

10 comments


  1. Chris

    Kyla, this is a great post, and I resonate with your thought: "I choose to practice my skills on small scales, learning as I go and giving all I can." Thanks for allowing us such an honest glimpse of your reflection process. This is important and helpful work.

  2. Chris

    I haven't read it, but will have to add it to the always growing reading list.

  3. Bill

    "I believe that our career and calling aren’t necessarily the same. A career is what we do. A calling is who we are."

    Well said, though I'm not so sure that our "calling" isn't a secret sometimes, but that might be due to my own personal stubborness more than the "calling" being a secret.

    Interesting reading about your experience with grad school. I thought I would definitely go to grad school when I graduated college. Now almost 18 years later…still no grad school for me.

  4. JKMiner

    The sad truth is that we must trade our time for money. I'd love to serve God 24/7. By doing so, I can learn God's Word faster, teach the Word of God more often to more people, and I can get more people saved because I have more time. But unfortunately, I have to work a stupid full-time job which will cut the majority of my time out from serving God. This means less time for Bible study, resulting in more people going to Hell. To get around this problem, I am building a Christian organization of which I will earn income from while I can go out and evangelize, but the crappy part is, I probably won't get paid until 5-7 years from now. In the mean time, people are going to Hell daily while I'm at a stupid job. Do you have any ideas on how I can solve this 5-7 year gap problem?

  5. I haven't read it, but will have to add it to the always growing reading list.

  6. Everyone wants this to happen with them.

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