Have you ever wondered what you should do with your life? Shana Schutte offers several suggestions on how to discover your interests and abilities.
Have you ever wondered what you should do with your life?
During a group discussion at his church about his book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, Pastor Timothy Keller said a calling to a particular work occurs when three things meet:
- Ability (You can do something)
- Affinity (You like doing something)
- Opportunity (A door opens)
Keller says that Ability, Affinity, and Opportunity can happen in any order. For example, someone may suggest an opportunity to you, then you may discover that you like doing what they suggested. Finally, you become skilled at that particular thing. Or, you may have the ability to do a particular something and you like it. Lastly, an opportunity follows.
After listening to this helpful information by Keller, I thought about several questions I have had—and I am sure others have had about work, too.
Since I don’t have an affinity for my work, does that mean I should quit?
Remember that discovering one’s God-ordained work doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult days. God wants us to find satisfaction in work, but there will be times when we don’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should quit.
There are lots of reasons we can become dissatisfied in our work, such as pride, impatience, problems with co-workers, or life challenges outside work. There is no blanket formula to know whether to quit. Certainly, there are those times when we should. But it’s an individual decision that must be made carefully with God. Thankfully, He has said He freely gives wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:5).
If doors aren’t opening, does this definitely mean it’s not God’s calling for me?
It would be wrong to say that Ability, Affinity, and Opportunity always line up at the same time—or even that Opportunity shows up right after Ability and Affinity. Sometimes God takes time to shape someone into the person they need to be to fulfill His plan for their work.
Also remember that expectations can make one think they aren’t experiencing opportunities, when in reality, they have just minimized the opportunities God is giving them because they aren’t the opportunities they hoped for.
Certainly, there are times when a particular work or calling is not God’s will. He will make it clear. Continue to lean into Him, ask for His guidance, and remember that He will lead you as you trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What if I don’t know my interests or abilities?
There are several steps you can take to discover your abilities and interests:
Books and Online Tools: There are many tools that can help you discover more about the gifts and talents God has given you. For example, you can take personality tests online, or take our spiritual gifts assessment. You can also read books like Do What You Are and What Color is Your Parachute?
Give it a Try: If you aren’t sure if you would like to do a particular thing, try it out. Or, find someone who is doing what you think you might like to do. Then ask them some questions to get a feel for their work.
Ask Others: Once you discover your gifts, talents, or skills, another step is to ask those around you who know you what they see as your strengths. What do they perceive as your gifts and talents? Others can often see things in us that we can’t.
Pray: Most importantly, ask God for the opportunities to serve Him through meaningful work and then trust Him to reveal His plan, in His time.