I had a bit of a ‘me’ weekend, just kind of relished the silence and the ability to not speak. I am an introvert by nature so the opportunity to recharge was welcomed and needed. I find that my brain just gets so full that I feel like I can’t be the person I want to be or the one God made me to be when I am maxed out from too much travel, talking, sharing, listening, working, living, managing…being. So in essence I need a time out.
During my time out I watched a portion of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and she was interviewing Barbara Brown Taylor who is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia and an Episcopal priest since 1984, not to mention she is the author of 13 books – two of which appear on the New York Time best sellers list. I am interested in religion and Oprah so this caught my attention.
They were talking about our calling in life and Brown Taylor used the metaphor of our life being a sailboat not a train. So it’s not an end to end destination, it’s more of a windy path that is navigated by influencers that we need to interpret. I loved it, so much in fact, that I wrote it down.
What if our time here is a sailboat and not a train? What if we can learn that our own evolution is what may alter or influence our callings and that some callings can end and then others begin? Brown Taylor said ‘there are goodbyes and hellos in all of our callings.’ That she doesn’t just have one calling; she has a relational calling and professional callings among others. She believes we can be called away from and called to things, situations, people and places. This ties in with how the religious community works in ‘calling’ pastors to their church. As far as I can remember when our Pastor(s) were called away to work in another church there was no ill will for them to leave or distaste for the church who had called him. In fact, there was a deep understanding of the rules of the game and an acceptance of how it was played. Not to say that we were never sad to see them go but that it was in fact, part of the deal of having called them to our church.
The other thing I believe is that just because you are called does not mean you have to go, it may require a soul searching exercise to understand if you should in fact leave one calling for another. But just like in leadership, sometimes the bell rings and it’s your exit queue. It’s important to continue listening and hunting for your calling; to ensure that you are not being wasted or wasting others time and effort. Life is not static, just like in sailing we must read the wind and adjust our course or our sails, or both.
The last thing that Barbara Brown Taylor said that hit me over the head was this ‘if you believe you have one big calling and that it has to be for a lifetime, we will fail all the time because we have ditched that calling.’ BAM!
That sentence helped me understand that part of my life and career that I had actually felt guilty about at times, was really me being a pretty good sailor. I have made plenty of mistakes and missed car loads of opportunities, but I can rest easier knowing that I have not missed my calling because my calling has changed and moved and be created based on my own evolution. And that, I find very exciting. If we waste our present worrying about a missed calling we are forgoing the opportunity of today’s miracle. We are giving up the right to be joyful about where we are and what we are doing.
Good leaders know when it’s time to move onto a new challenge or new calling. Good leaders know that missed opportunities may just be a change in wind. Good leaders know when they have completed their work and added their value and it’s time to pass the torch to someone else who is being called. Good leaders aren’t afraid of a storm because they know their boat is built on knowledge, experience and an understanding of being human. Good leaders are malleable, confident and open to a new course. Good Leaders are good Sailors. What kind of Sailor are you?