After a decade of study followed by a gap year at age 29, it was probably time I figured out my purpose in life. Since I turned 15 I’ve had 12 different jobs not including my freelance work as designer / photographer / editor / professional organiser / tutor / nanny / et al. Balancing several jobs has been my life, mainly due to the priority of study and … my avoidance in joining the 9-5 work world.
In my year in the Community of St Anselm, the fifth and final retreat I attended was titled Me, God and My Job: One Life? which was basically a work & faith retreat.
The purpose of the retreat was to bring continuity to all areas of our lives, as we tend to divide between the “God stuff”, the “work stuff” and the “stuff that is really me”. We might operate in these three modes between Monday and Sunday, without even realising it.
There were a lot of helpful creative activities during the week as well as a small group to share our journey with, the main focus being to find out our working life purpose. What has God called me to do in this life? How has God uniquely gifted me? Our working life purpose was a statement that was meant to include:
My first attempt was:
To open the hearts and minds of people to the church; treasuring the past, engaging in its present and dreaming its future.
“That’s not one thing, Rachael, that’s three things!” So it was back to the drawing board. Just before this retreat I had written an article for The Melbourne Anglican and reflected on my love of old and new, and how it began when I studied Fine Arts. I had come across this phrase from Lewis Hyde about art being ‘a live tradition that extends in both directions of time’. That really connected with me as an artist, but also as a Christian interested in both ancient and contemporary church ministry.
So this is my working life purpose which anchors what I do every day.
To encourage the church to be a live tradition that extends in both directions of time.
The discovery of this purpose has given me courage in my working life and a way to decide my ‘yes’ and ‘no’. It’s a work in progress – sometimes I get sidetracked and caught up doing what I’m capable of but not what my purpose is. But this is a motto I can keep coming back to each day and hit refresh.
Have a go at creating your own working life purpose, I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with.