When we are little we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And rightfully so, we are encouraged in whatever that might be, whether that be a dream to become a famous movie star, a successful athlete, and entrepreneur, or a police officer.
As kids, we are told, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up.”
But is this really true?
I’m not suggesting that we don’t encourage dreaming about being anything imaginable, but it’s not as true as it might seem. In some sense, the doors are wide open. When you are little, nothing is off limits for your dreams. But is it because the options are really limitless?
If you have no gifts or abilities in engineering, you probably can’t be an engineer.
If you don’t know how to play an instrument, you can’t be a musician.
If you can’t dribble a basketball, you can’t play in the NBA.
If you don't have any patience for junior high students, you can’t teach junior high students.
If you have no competency in budgeting, you probably won’t be a Chief Financial Officer.
You can’t really be anything you want to be. But you can try anything in the pursuit to discover your gifts. I’m not going to suggest that we stop telling kids they can be whatever they want. That statement for a child is more about permission to dream big and try anything. The exploration and imagination of possible future jobs is helpful and important.
But eventually we need to face the reality that we can’t be anything.
The problem for many of us is not that we were told that we could be anything we want to be. But we still think that and ignore the unique ways that God has gifted us and created us.
Realizing that you can’t be anything may sound like bad news, but I would suggest that in realizing that you were not given every gift you are freed to do the things that you do best or are needed to support your family.
You can be anything that God calls you to be.
Because when God calls you be something, he gifts you with what is necessary to be that thing and gives you the opportunities to fulfill that calling.
The temptation for many people, especially when they find themselves in college preparing for a future career or when they are in a job they dislike, is to ignore the present while dreaming about the future. God may certainly be training and preparing you for a future calling, this is an important part of schooling.
But school or an unsatisfying job is not a “lesser calling.” God calls you to be a student. He calls you to study, to work, to serve on your campus, to be a missionary, and to simply love your neighbors. This might be your calling at this very moment while God is also preparing you for another calling that you have not yet discovered.
Perhaps you have a job that makes you want to pull out your hair, but for the sake of your family you have to keep working and cannot pursue something else. Don’t ignore that your job is still a calling from God (while not necessarily a forever calling). It allows you to love and care for your family. For many people, the 9 to 5 grind is less about passionately using their gifts and more about providing for their family. This too is a sacred, holy calling that shouldn’t be ignored.
Learn and discover your gifts for the sake of using those in your callings. God has gifted you to be the person he created you to be and to do the work that he has prepared for you to do. You might not have any ability to be a professional athlete or to run a fortune 500 company, but you are perfectly wired for the work that God has called you to.