How to Escape Narcisscism and Find Your Calling

Everyone wants to know their calling, or central purpose to their life. Have you found yours? Have you really found it?

If you’re a Christian then your call to Christ is your first and most important calling. And because of Christ’s work in you, you are called to love and serve others. But you also have a more specific calling.

What is my calling? I’m glad you asked. Today I’m a lunchmaker.

A Necessary Reminder

My wife, Gina, when talking about calling often says, “Because I have children, I am a mother. That’s my calling.” She is also a fine pianist. Using the same logic I believe that because she plays music, she is a musician.

As her husband, my calling is to remind her of who she is, especially on days where she may question her calling as a musician.

Why does she need reminding? Because the piano does not come running up to her asking for another cookie the way our son does, and the piano does not want to snuggle with her on the sofa the way our daughter does.

I’ve found that people like to talk about their “calling,” but it can be dangerous. Too often a conversation about calling is nothing more than narcisscism. It’s a way to sound spiritual when you merely want to talk about yourself. You are being a narcissist when you use “calling” as an excuse to consciously or unconsciously steer a conversation toward yourself.

How would you know whether or not you’re being a narcissicist or genuinely working to find your life’s purpose?

Spotting Your Narcissism

One way to spot narcissism in yourself is to realize you’ve made your relationship to others something peripheral. (I used that word on purpose! The periphery, or perimeter, of something is its outer most edge.) What I mean is this: if you’re a narcisscist using the language of calling, you put the people closest to you on the outer most edge of your concern while rambling on about the central purpose of your life.

For me, this happened right in the middle of seminary, a time in my life that is supposed to be especially spiritual.

I desired to know the central purpose of my life, my calling. I was always dreaming about things like what type of ministry I would engage in, the amount of job security in it, and what plans I could make toward that unknown future. I spent a lot of time talking about my calling with Gina while she was busily keeping our house together, educating our two children at home, and working as a music director at our church to provide income for us.

But I was blind to my narcisscism. I was blind to how much I constantly kept turning the conversation toward myself. I didn’t realize how the daily receiving and giving of grace with the people around me is absolutely central to my calling.

People Aren’t a Means to Your Ends

Eventually, I began to wake up to my own narcisscism disguised as “calling.” It happened when I finally began to wonder why Gina looked so worn out when I still had so much more to work out in words. I was talking at her, not talking with her. What’s more, I was talking at her while she needed to practice piano but she was making lunch by herself for our kids.

A simple question popped into my head: What if these people around you are not a means to your ends?

REalizing Your Calling

Then I realized my true calling in that moment: Because it is lunchtime and Mommy needs to practice, I am a lunchmaker.

How about you?

What if the people around you aren’t a means to your ends?
Have you stopped to consider that?

Consider that the daily giving and receiving of grace with the people closest to you is really the best way to experience and clarify your specific calling, your unique purpose in life.

Consider who most needs you to serve them in the moment.
Then serve them with all your heart and you’ll find your specific calling.

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