When Your Calling in Life Calls Your Name: Learning from the Tale of Saint Patrick

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When you think of St. Patrick’s Day it likely conjures up images of drinking green beer and talking like a leprechaun, and it’s probably not the #1 holiday for making you consider your purpose and life calling.

  . . . when you think of St. Patrick’s Day this year, consider that no one would even be talking about him, and maybe there wouldn’t even be green beer, had this one man not listened to his heart.

-Dr. Jason Holland, Lifespark

Well, in 2018 all of that is going to change! I mean, you can still drink beer and make leprechaun jokes on Saturday, but this year Lifespark wants to also make St. Patrick’s day about renewing and strengthening your sense of personal calling in life.

The details of St. Patrick’s life are a bit hazy considering that no one has really heard from him in about 1500 years. But we do know that before becoming a bishop and getting his own holiday, at the age of 16, he was captured by a band of pirates while living in Britain.

They took him to Ireland and after six years of enslavement there, he eventually escaped and returned home to Britain. But he soon felt compelled to return to Ireland. In his Confessions of St. Patrick, he explains:

…there in a vision of the night, I saw a man…with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish’…and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke.

It was this voice that inspired him to return to Ireland to do his missionary work there, ultimately paving his way to sainthood.  

So, when you think of St. Patrick’s Day this year, consider that no one would even be talking about him, and maybe there wouldn’t even be green beer, had this one man not listened to his heart and lived out his personal calling.

Of course, not all callings originate from an external summons that commands us to live out our life purpose, like it did for St. Patrick. For some, that certainly may be the case.

But for others it may be more about having a sense of destiny that this is the work that I’m supposed to do. Some may also view their calling in more pragmatic terms representing the perfect fit or match with their skills, abilities, and likes.

Research studies have consistently shown that those who have a sense of calling and feel as though they are, to some extent, living out that calling are more likely to experience their lives as meaningful and satisfying.

And this link between having a calling and life satisfaction seems to persist regardless of where the calling originates. So, whether it’s a voice calling you from above or simply an internal sense that you’ve found your ideal career path, believing that you are called to do something important is a fundamental part of living a meaningful and satisfying life.  

In honor of St. Patrick, we’re going to be discussing personal callings all week long.

Tomorrow’s piece offers strategies for finding your personal calling in life. Then on Wednesday you can take our quiz and find out more about your passion at work.

And if you’re feeling like you’re in a dead-end job, definitely check out Thursday’s article on how to live out your calling even when you feel stuck.

We then end the week on Friday exploring the dark side of having a calling in life and offer tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of being passionate about what you’re doing.

So, tune in every day this week for more on finding your life calling! And in the comments below let us know about your calling and where it came from. Were you summoned like St. Patrick, or was it more of a sense of destiny or perfect fit for you?     

Further Reading:

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Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., Autin, K. L., & Bott, E. M. (2013). Calling and life satisfaction: It’s not about having it, it’s about living it. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60, 42-52.

Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., & Bott, E. M. (2012). Calling and life satisfaction among undergraduate students: Investigating mediators and moderators. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 469-479.

Duffy, R. D., Allan, B. A., Bott, E. M., & Dik, B. J. (2014). Does the source of a calling matter? External summons, destiny, and perfect fit. Journal of Career Assessment, 22, 562-574.

Duffy, R. D., & Dik, B. J. (2013). Research on calling: What have we learned and where are we going?. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83, 428-436.

Duffy, R. D., & Sedlacek, W. E. (2010). The salience of a career calling among college students: Exploring group differences and links to religiousness, life meaning, and life satisfaction. The Career Development Quarterly, 59, 27-41.


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