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Dare to be called

Dee Tian | Sunday, February 19, 2012

I once heard a story comparing Jonah and Noah. These two prophets responded very differently to God’s calling. While Jonah originally flees from God and rejects His commands, Noah immediately obeys God’s orders. Jonah pushed away and resisted God, until God showed that His will was absolute and Jonah begrudgingly obeyed. Noah, on the other hand, trusted God’s wisdom and followed God’s will from the beginning.

I’m extremely grateful and proud to have a job lined up for after graduation. However, I often question if entering the business world and climbing the corporate ladder is really what I want out of this life — if it’s my calling. Growing up, I didn’t dream of being a business woman. In fact, I think few of us dreamed of being where we are headed. It’s hard to remember exactly when we lost our childhood aspirations, but at some point, we were forced to consider the realities of life and make more practical choices.

Although I’m impressed with many of my friends’ future occupations — aerospace engineers, doctors and film directors — those who I admire most are the ones who are taking time to engage in service, something I wish I had the guts to do.

I watch documentaries about orphan children in North Korea and feel a gut instinct to do something to help. I attend plays about sexual assault and feel a passion to speak for those who have been hurt. I feel called by God to alleviate those who are suffering. Yet, a few days pass and I’m back into the routine of my life. I can push these atrocities out of my mind. We often think, after all, what can I do? I’m just one person. There has to be someone else out there who is smarter, wealthier, more passionate and better equipped for this task than I.

Why do we so often want to act but fail to do so? Because it’s not polite or comfortable. Because we don’t think or know if it is our place. Because we aren’t the one directly hurting someone else; aren’t we just innocent bystanders? Because we think someone else will intercede.

All of these are valid concerns and emotions we struggle with. However, our failure to act can lead to dire consequences. There’s a whole world out there that needs our creativity, brains, generosity and love. Why be caught up in our own little world?

I often think to myself, there’s no way you could work for a non-profit or commit a life of mission trips to developing countries. You want too many material things in life. And then I fault myself and feel guilty for having so much when so many others don’t. I’m afraid of missing out on the bigger picture, the grander purpose of life but I must constantly remind myself that entering the corporate world doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m selling out. It’s not going to rob me of my soul. I can still reach out to different communities and contribute to different causes that I believe in. In business it’s called the Triple Bottom Line: where profitability, sustainability and social responsibility meet.

Aristotle had a fascinating view on beatitude, or happiness. He believed performing virtuous deeds (aka random acts of kindness) was vital to a person attaining true happiness. However, he also believed that when a person has wealth, power, status and influence, he can accomplish even more! This slightly eases my mind. Regardless of my profession, with my resources, I can still obey God’s calling of helping those in need.

We are all called to do what’s right, to reach outside our immediate circle of influence and to try to alleviate suffering and lend a hand in a world that’s broken.

I think we have all, at one point or another, struggled with finding our callings. Unfortunately, most of us don’t hear God’s voice telling us exactly what to do with our lives. However, even if you did, would you accept? Are you a Jonah or a Noah? Will you obey God’s calling for you? Will you kick and scream until you’re forced to accept it, or will you freely accept your calling and, as Ghandi once said, “be the change you wish to see in this world?”

Dee Tian is a senior marketing major pursuing minors in philosophy and anthropology. She can be reached at ytian1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.