There are many different factors associated with a person’s family situation which can impact upon their ability to live their calling. My intention with this piece is to highlight and address these factors, which emerged from my research findings. The role of the family plays a significant part in our daily lives, and if we can better understand how our family life intersects with our lived calling journey, we can take more effective steps towards harmonising these two integral aspects of our being.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the most frequently cited enablers to a lived calling was receiving support in the home. Many a respondent glowed when they talked about their spouse or partner understanding the calling that they felt, and being willing to assist in realising it more fully. The making of sacrifices for the good of the person responding to a call was a common feature of these people’s stories, as was the willingness of the person living their calling to reciprocate this support at other points in time. As some of the respondents communicated, they felt that they couldn’t have done what they did without their significant other walking with them along the journey.
The presence of children also appeared to have a strong motivating effect on these individuals who were living their calling. At least in part, what they did in pursuing that path was for their children, and to ensure that the life they were leading, was better than what they as parents experienced growing up. This is not to imply that the family environments that these respondents grew up in were bad. Despite some respondents enduring some early challenges such as poverty or disadvantageous social conditions, the vast majority talked about the blessings of being raised in a nurturing and supportive household, where their parents believed in them and cultivated the qualities of character, which served them well along the journey to living their calling. Many of the respondents who were raised this way, cited it as a powerful influence that shaped how they raised their own kids, and the supportive position they would adopt in enabling their children to pursue their own callings.
So far, I have covered the more positive impacts of the family on a lived calling, but there are also some ways in which our family situation can hold us back in living our calling. Being raised in a neglectful, ignorant or abusive household, where parents haven’t nurtured a calling or the inner qualities of confidence, determination and resilience in their children, can present a considerable barrier to a person being able to get on the path to living their calling. Other less obvious barriers to a lived calling that respondents identified in relation to family were having children, less available time to pursue a work-related calling, and the pressures of having to provide for a family.
While these respondents no doubt loved their children, and were willing to trade time in their work for time with their families, it was acknowledged that with all of the time that one invests in raising children, that time could have otherwise been invested in the pursuit of a calling that was expressed outside the home. On the point of experiencing additional pressures to provide for a family, it was appreciated that with a family come responsibilities, and therefore, one cannot just put their family to the side to selfishly pursue a calling for themselves. Instead of resisting against the reality of these familial responsibilities, numerous respondents chose to embrace the challenge of balancing and integrating these two aspects of their lives, so that they could nourish and complement each other.
It is enticing to envision the living of one’s calling as a solo venture, however these findings point to a different reality in which the family plays a pivotal role in facilitating our vocational success. While their influence is determinative, I still don’t believe that it is absolute to living our calling because there are many other innate factors within our ability to control and spiritual resources to draw upon, which can move us in the direction of our higher purpose. If we didn’t have supportive parents growing up, or they didn’t have a sense of vocation for us to emulate, that may have made our path to living our calling more challenging, but that path still exists for us to take that journey. Ultimately, we have the greatest say in whether that path will be taken, and where there is a will to live with meaning and purpose, there is a way to live our calling.