Legacy, and the difference between a calling and a job

“For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.”
Thomas Merton

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice in here calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.”
― Thomas Merton

DSCN3465

Vocation: a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. From the latin vocare ‘to call.

Job: A task or piece of work, esp. one that is paid. Mid 16th century: of unknown origin

Legacy: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
Middle English legacie office of a legate, bequest, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, office of a legate, from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus
First Known Use: 15th century

I usually like listening to music while I spend my required time of morning servitude chained to my feeble attempts of exercise. This morning was no exception as I huffed and puffed my 5 mile pace on the elliptical. Today’s choice was the album Woven and Spun by Nichole Nordeman. Nichole is one of my favorite contemporary female Christian artists. Her words have always spoken deeply to my own heart and my often inadequate grasp or putting words to my feelings.

As the song Legacy began to play, with me more focused on how many more minutes I had to endure of the continued exertion of the up and down motion of lifting leg upon leg, I was suddenly aware of the words to the song which came flooding to my ears. . .
. . .How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Naturally my mind drifted to that key word legacy with my thoughts then shifting to my very long career in the classroom. 31 years of high highs and equally low lows. How will they choose to remember me? Or in my case, how do they remember me? Did I choose to do and say the type of things that left the lasting positive marks of love, pointing to those things that I would hope others would help point my own child toward?

During such a lengthy career there will always be those who will answer yes, you did what was right and required. . .just as there will be those who will say no, you did not do those things. Such is the case with such a long time doing the same thing as so it is when working closely with people—as the old adage is certainly true, one simply cannot please all of the people all of the time.

If, however, the over-all feeling from those I served—from Superintendents to Principals–to my colleagues to the parents with the most important commodity being the students. . .if the majority was pleased then that’s pretty good I suppose. But as any teacher worth their salts would worry, it is to those who would answer no that I would feel as if I had not done my job adequately or sufficiently.

But today’s thoughts are not so much for my having done my job well or not, which captures my attention, but it is rather to those current as well as future educators which draws my concerns.

To teach is not merely a job in which one gets paid. It consists not of the typical 9 to 5 day but rather, in my case it was 6:45AM to 5 or 6PM or even later—which often spanned more than Monday through Friday.

Teaching is not a job.
Teaching, rather, is a vocation.
It is a calling.
— just as the priesthood is a calling.
It is a calling to serve.
It is a deep component within, which for most seems, hard wired since birth.
Not only is it a call to educate but it is a call to nurture, to care for, to tend to, to protect, to foster, to mould, to form, to shape, to respect. . .and it is a call to sacrifice.

The Bible is laced with claims that those who teach will be held to higher and stricter standards as the responsibility is just that great.

Kids spend more time at school, with their teachers, than they do with their parents. Many children seek a safe, warm, nourishing shelter in a school—taking many of them off the dangerous, bullet ridden, drug infested streets, as well as the frightening home scenarios which play out each day in the news. There is food for those who have little to none outside of the walls of the school. It is as place to feel a connection to a positive “community”–a place to hope and dream. A place to turn dreams into realities.

Society yearns to know why there is so much violence, death and destruction within our kids, yet they also tell the teachers, the caring adults in the lives of these children, not to care too much, not to offer too much wisdom or counsel, not to share that foundation of beliefs which have been the grounded basis for many of these particular adults.. .as it will conflict with the separation of Church and Sate, it will open one up for law suits, it counters the teaching of Evolution, it runs counter to the will of Society, it sends the wrong message, etc, etc, etc.

Those who currently desire to teach must know that with a vocation comes the sacrifice of self. That of time, personal desire, riches, fame, glamour. It is not intended for those who live two apparently different lives of one being that in the classroom and then that being of the one outside of the classroom. How many a FaceBook posting has ruined a teacher? It is not wise for a teacher to hang out in public places which may paint a poor light upon the teacher come Monday morning back at school. That is just the nature of this career choice. You must be who you are in the classroom as well as out of the classroom.

Teaching, akin to marriage, is not to be entered into lightly. It is a vocation of sacrifice. The sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of personal freedoms, the sacrifice often of one’s own personal safety.

This as I am mindful of the teachers during the past decade who have sheltered their children during the crisis of intruders or the crisis of catastrophic weather events- – – leading the students to shelter and safety and to those teachers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their “kids”—as that is simply what teachers do—they give all they have to their “kids”—for good or bad.

Suddenly my mind is riveted back to the pain now racing through my legs and lungs, as I am still in the midst of the grueling 30 minute regime, I am mindful however to end these thoughts today by leaving us all with two questions. . .
The first question is to be that of choice—the choice of seeking a vocation verses seeking a job–does the call to vocation lie in your heart?
The second question will be what type of Legacy will you leave behind.
All thoughts to ponder while enduring the grueling continuum of lifting leg upon leg. . .

Legacy
I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best
At such’n’such … it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…

4 comments on “Legacy, and the difference between a calling and a job

  1. ptero9 says:

    I like to expand the notion of calling to include something beyond what makes us money to that which brings us closer to God, others and ultimately death.
    Some of us get to live out our calling in a career or as religious, but most of us probably do not, especially in an age where we have stopped asking ourselves to listen for our calling.
    Debra

    • thanks Debra for the added thoughts—I think my thought here was that it seems as if so many folks today seem to enter into so much in life with an oh so lightly attitude—often without giving much thought as to what may truly be required of them. . .schools are in such need of folks who are willing to go many extra miles it takes to not only teach, but care for and nurture our youth—–

  2. Oh, I love Nichole Nordeman. My favorite of hers is “Resurrection.” Nice post, Cookie. I hope you’ve had a nice day and hope you don’t get too much of the bad stuff headed your way. Hugs… N 🙂

  3. Lynda says:

    Beautiful post Julie. I would say that no matter what our job is, we can make it a vocation. My desire is expressed in this prayer by Saint Ignatius:
    “Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly,
    love thee more dearly,
    follow thee more nearly.” (Spiritual Exercises – 104)

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