Prepared for Good Works
About the Guest
Have you found your calling? If you haven't, don't you think it's time you did? Career counselor Bill Hendricks encourages listeners to take the right steps to discover their giftedness and do what they love to do.
Bill HendricksBill Hendricks is President of The Giftedness Center, which grew out of a consulting practice he founded in 1985. For the last twenty years, he has been helping people make critical life and career decisions based on their giftedness. Bill attended St. Mark's School of Texas and holds degrees from Harvard University, Boston University, and Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author or coauthor of twenty-two books, including The Person Called YOU: Why You're Here, Why You Matter & What...more
Have you found your calling? If you haven’t, don’t you think it’s time you did? Bill Hendricks encourages listeners to take the right steps to discover their giftedness and do what they love to do.
Prepared for Good Works
Bob: There’s a difference between having an occupation and having a vocation. One is a calling—that’s a vocation—the other is where you just occupy / you just show up. Author Bill Hendricks describes what a person with an occupation looks like.
Bill: People just kind of live their life with their gifting. They’re not bad people / they’re fallen people—they need a Savior—but, at the end of the day, it’s pretty much about them and their personal comfort, convenience, and satisfaction. That calling just kind of goes by the wayside.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Do you have a vocation or an occupation? Are you called to do what you’re doing? We’re going to explore that today with Bill Hendricks. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, I remember reading a business book a couple of years ago. One of the key ideas of this book was: “You’ve got to see if you’ve got the right people on the right seat on the bus,”—you remember that phrase coming up in a business book.
Bob: I guess what we’re hearing, this week, is that there are a lot of people, who are on the bus, who—it’s time for a shuffle for some of them; right?
Dennis: Yes, they need to make sure they’ve located the right seat and also maybe determine if they’re on the right bus or not. They may have a ticket heading in the wrong direction.
Bill Hendricks joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Bill—welcome back.
Bill: Dennis/Bob—it’s good to be with you again. Thank you.
Dennis: And I just want our listeners to know—Bill knows what he’s talking about. He is the President of The Giftedness Center, which is a Dallas-based consulting firm that helps organizations, businesses, and individuals find out how to be effective. A part of that is helping them find their giftedness.
We’re talking about a book called The Person Called You. As we start out the broadcast, Bob, I want to read a verse here, in just a second, that I’ve been reading all week. But I want to say a special “Thank you,” to some Legacy Partners—these are monthly donors to FamilyLife—who bring you this broadcast. FamilyLife Today is a donor-supported ministry. It takes a little bit from a lot of people—
Bob: —a lot of people pitching in; that’s right!
Dennis: —to keep us going. So, I just want to say, “Thanks!” to Bryant and Sheila from Orlando, Florida; and to Karen from Lebanon, Missouri. Then, “Thanks!” to Dale and Janice in Clovis, California. Thank you, guys, for keeping this broadcast on the air. We appreciate you.
I mentioned I want to read a verse that has to do with what we’re talking about here, which is finding out how God gifted you and being used up by Him for His purposes. It is Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10—this is from The Message.
If you’ve not read verses from The Message recently, Eugene Peterson takes some liberty in kind of explaining the text.
Bob: Yes, a little poetry here.
Dennis: This is a good rendition. He said: [God] creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” That’s what you’re about; isn’t it?
Bill: It’s exactly what I’m about.
Dennis: You’re about helping people find out how God made them—what they’re good at / plugging in—whether it be in their work or volunteering, perhaps; right?
Bill: Absolutely! Your giftedness can be used in every area of your life. That verse talks about the good work that God has prepared for each one of us. I find that a lot of people—if their life is given to Christ—they sincerely want to do the thing that God designed them to do. The problem is—they don’t know what their workmanship is / they don’t know what the good works are.
These aren’t just generic good works—these are specific good works, tied to the nature of the workmanship. If you figure out what the workmanship is, you now know what the good works are about.
Bob: You know, Bill, as we’ve talked about this, I’ve been thinking about jobs like a pipefitter.
Bob: I don’t even know what a pipefitter does; alright?
Bill: He fits pipe.
Bob: Okay; right! [Laughter] I’ve been thinking about a guy, who is a janitor—
Bob: —or somebody who—they just have a job—that they would say, “It’s my job,” you know.
Bill: There are a lot of people who say, “It’s just my job”; but there are people, who are gifted at the task of pipe-fitting—I’ve seen them at work—I mean, they’re efficient / they love what they do.
Dennis: They take pride in what they do.
Bill: They take pride in the workmanship. They’re good with their hands / they love to serve people—that’s a good fit for them.
I’ve met janitors—for whom that was a perfect fit—because they loved taking responsibility to keep a place in good working condition.
Bob: You’re saying, “It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a lawyer or a coalminer—
Bill: Oh, listen! Years ago, somebody wrote a wonderful book, with the title, Who Moved the Price Tags? The point of the book is that we have reassigned all the values in our culture. You know, we pay people that are doing incredible work that affects the next generation and has all kinds of implications for what goes on in this world—and we pay them a pittance. And then, we have people that are doing stuff that, at the end of the day—it may be entertaining—but it doesn’t really amount to just a whole lot.
Bill: And yet they get paid, as they say, “like a rock star.” We’ve got all our values messed up. As a result, we tend to assign value to different occupations. God doesn’t look at it that way. God sees that every kind of work is valuable and needs to be done. To that end, He’s created somebody out there who’s gifted at the task of doing that.
Dennis: There’s a thing we have really skirted around but really haven’t talked much about—it’s calling. I recruited a guy out of a major industry, a number of years ago, to come here, to FamilyLife, and to give leadership here. We had just taken a job satisfaction survey, here at FamilyLife, among all of our staff.
He looked at the numbers for FamilyLife staff; and he goes: “We would kill, in industry, for these numbers! These people are motivated out of their minds! Your scores are the highest I have ever seen in terms of people who—maybe they aren’t in the perfect job for them and all that—but they have a sense of being where they are on purpose for God has called them there. They’ve walked away from money / they’ve walked away from security. They have decided to move forward to make a difference because of what’s happening in our country.”
Dennis: What would you say about this whole issue of calling, Bill?
Bill: Well, I think that you’ve gotten people that felt called to it—
—it’s a good thing. Part of the reason you’ve done that is you’ve set up a venture that (a) has a well-defined purpose—that’s bigger than any person—so, “I’m getting to participate in something that’s bigger than just me.” In your case, it has the added benefit of, not only affecting lives for now, which is important, but also affecting them for eternity, which is also important.
You know, “calling” is a theological term that’s been kicked around for so long we’ve almost lost sight of what it means. I’m afraid people, like me, who’ve had theological training, we managed to complicate it all out of proportion—so it’s a bit of a mystery for people. At the end of the day, calling starts with God’s voice. God calls somebody into existence—just, as in Genesis 1, He called the worlds into existence. Well, He calls people into existence—when He calls them into existence, that’s a very specific name that He puts on that person.
Remember, God is eternal, which means, whatever His thought about you is, that thought is eternal. I don’t want to get too deep here; but in eternity—where God dwells—in His mind, there’s a person that He thinks of when He thinks of you. That means He always thinks of you. All of the thoughts of God are perfect—all of the thoughts of God, He delights in. He can’t have a thought that He doesn’t delight in, which means that His thought of you is something He delights in.
Then, as I said, in time and space, He calls you into existence. He puts you into the world with a body that connects you to the world and with gifts that allow you to add value to this world and make it more fruitful. So, just by virtue of putting you here and calling you into existence, God has put a call on your life. He’s got you here for a purpose.
Even people who haven’t yet come to faith in Christ are still put here for a purpose.
That was God’s intent for them. He had something for them to do. The reason they really need to come to faith in Christ is so that they can have their eyes opened to pursue that with intentionality, under the Lordship of Christ and to His glory, empowered by His Spirit to accomplish His purposes. And not, as commonly happens, people just kind of live their life with their gifting—they’re not bad people / they’re fallen people—they need a Savior. They feed their families but, at the end of the day, it’s pretty much about them and their personal comfort, convenience, and satisfaction. That calling just kind of goes by the wayside.
God has called people into existence. The calling has to do with how He’s put them together, which should live itself out in terms of what they actually do in their day-to-day life.
Dennis: Back to that verse I read earlier—
Dennis: — “We are His workmanship,”—
Dennis: —in Ephesians 2:10. That word means: “We are God’s work of art.”
He has pulled out a paint brush, and He has created a painting that’s intended to live out a story that honors Him.
Bill: Right; right.
Dennis: That should occur in our lives—as men and women, husbands and wives, moms and dads. We should help our children recognize that workmanship too?
Bill: Well, let me plus that—not only are we a beautiful piece of art, which has beauty to it—but it also has functionality to it. You know, if you go back to the original context—here in Ephesians—Ephesus was a first century city in Greece. Imagine an artisan in Greece—in Ephesus—who’s working in pottery. He’s fashioning this piece of pottery—because it is God’s hands that are on the pottery, it’s a masterpiece.
But you know, if the potter fashions that piece of clay one way, it’s perfect for holding wine or water. If he fashions it yet another way, it’s perfect for holding bread or grain. If he fashions it yet another way, it’s perfect for putting oil in and a wick, and burning it as a lantern.
In other words, the artist gives that vessel design features which gives it functionality—which has the idea of purpose to it. So, not only is this thing beautiful, it also is purposeful—there’s a reason why it was put together—it’s got a use to it.
That’s why the verse goes on to say that we’re created in Christ Jesus for good works—not just generic good works like helping little old ladies across the street and feeding the homeless—those are good works / they need to be done—but, in light of that word, “workmanship,” those are specific good works tied to the nature of the workmanship—which means: “If you figure out your workmanship, you figure out the nature of the good works that have your name on them. You’ve thereby figured out, ‘What am I called to do?’”
In my case, let me just speak for me—if you were to look in my motivational pattern, you would see God’s given me some facility with words and the ability to write. You know, Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” I feel like “Woe is me if I do not write.”
So, that’s a sense of calling. I need to take the thoughts, and experiences, and stories that God has given to me and, in some way, shape or form—find a way to put those into writing because, somehow, He wants to benefit other people through me doing that.
Bob: You know, you talk about writing—I’m thinking about John Grisham—
Bob: —the lawyer—
Bob: —but he’d go home at night, after working in the law office, and he started writing novels.
Bob: Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman who went home at night and worked on spy thrillers; right?
Bob: Both of them found they really were better at—or liked—writing better than what they were originally doing. What about the person who says: “Okay, I do my job. It’s kind of the way I support my habit. My habit is what I do at night and on weekends—that’s really where my passion is. My job’s just what I’ve got to do so I can pay the bills so I can do what I’m really called to do.”
Bill: I call that waiting tables. Waiting tables is a very noble occupation; but as we all know, there are many artisans and creative types who have to wait tables in order to, as you say, support their habit. I guess I want to put a little nobler vision on that task.
You may not be in a position where you can get paid to do this thing that’s in you—like an actor, or a musician, or a novelist, or something like that—again, because of the values in our culture. Whatever you do, don’t say, “Well, because I can’t make a living at it, I guess I shouldn’t do it at all.” Do it avocationally—it’s imperative for you to do that. If you do it and you apply yourself to it, you absolutely don’t know when that so-called break will come through.
I actually challenge people by saying: “You’re running around telling everybody you’re an accountant. You don’t really like accounting but it’s a way to pay the bills because what you really love to do is watercolors.
“Great! The next time somebody asks you, ‘What do you do?’ say, ‘I’m an artist.’ You say, ‘But Bill, I can’t say I’m an artist!’ I say, ‘Well, do you do art?’ ‘Yes.’ Have people responded to that art? ‘Yes.’ Have you ever sold any of that art? ‘Oh, yes. I had one little thing that sold in a craft show’ or whatever. That’s in your soul—that’s your gift! Accounting is your form of waiting tables while you’re developing your art and hoping that life cooperates, and something good happens, and, next thing you know, you’re…”
I have a friend who says he worked 25 years to be an overnight success. [Laughter]
Bill: And I want to encourage a lot of our listeners who are—particularly Boomers—and they are like: “Bill, you don’t understand. I’ve got three kids in college. I’ve got to do whatever I can to bring money in the door.” I say, “I understand that, but you’re not going to have those kids to be responsible for forever.”
Let’s say your youngest is in eighth grade. That means you’ve got another—what?—nine more years, roughly, that I believe you should take some responsibility to make sure that they’re provided for. Well, that’s a wonderful runway—a nine-year runway—for you to start to dream about: “If I really figure out what my gifting is—I think I have a clue—but maybe confirm that and let me lean into that. Let me start to do some things on the side that fit that and that really give me energy. Let me begin to create a vision for my life, for nine years out. What could it look like if I trust that and I think, ‘Okay, when my options open up, how can I really start to lean into that?’”
That will give you hope to get through those nine years in a job that may not fit you very well; but more importantly, when you start to gain energy from doing this thing, even if it’s at night and on the weekends, that energy gets translated back to give you the energy you need to do work that doesn’t really fit you—because that’s draining.
Dennis: I can give you a great illustration of this. Barbara was, for a number of years—I think it was 29 years—a mom.
Dennis: Now, she did not—
Bob: She’s still a mom—
Dennis: She’s still a mom.
Bob: —you’re just talking about not having kids in the home.
Dennis: Right. Job description-wise, she did it all. I mean, when they left to go establish their own homes, in essence, she got fired.
Dennis: Her job, for the most part, went away. So, we took a planning retreat to evaluate how best to use her gifts and abilities in this next vocational assignment for her. It took about four or five years to figure that out. To your point, about how you have to kind of discover—or, in her case, rediscover—some latent gifts that had to be put on the shelf because raising kids would not allow it to occur.
She took her study of the Bible—which she has been a student of the Bible for decades—and her ability as an artist to create beautiful things around holidays for moms and dads / grandmas and grandpas to pass on truth, generationally, to their children and grandchildren. It’s called Ever Thine Home. So, she’s a great illustration of that.
I’ve got a question that I want you to answer—that’s this: “If we transported the three of us, right now, to a country in Africa, our discussion around satisfaction and giftedness in jobs might be nuanced just a bit differently. Do you think we’re expecting too much today out of our work and out of our jobs, Bill, here in America?”
Bill: Really, the question I think you’re asking is: “Is giftedness just a luxury?” I get asked that all the time: “Bill, this is great if you have options; but if you don’t have options, what good does your giftedness do?” My answer is that giftedness is not a luxury—giftedness is a reality—it is the human condition.
I can’t change the fact that many parts of our world are impoverished, but neither can I change the fact that people have giftedness within them—it’s simply there. When I put it together with the fact that the reason it’s there is God actually wants humans to create value, and that includes economic value, a light goes on in my head and I ask: “What we’re saying is that it’s not for lack of giftedness that these people don’t have the means that they have. Well then, what’s the lack? The lack is opportunity.”
Sure enough, today, people are discovering microfinance.
Bill: They’re discovering that you make a loan to a guy, who otherwise is sitting around, starving. He buys a bicycle. He can begin to transport bananas to market with that bicycle. Next thing you know, he’s making money—he pays back the loan.
Next thing you know, his business is expanding so he hires some more people. This whole community benefits because his giftedness got unleashed.
In the book, I have an example of a community in South America, where the community is very poor people—they basically live in a garbage dump. It’s a terrible place to live / it’s a terrible place to grow up. But somebody began to form and fashion musical instruments out of the scraps in the garbage dump. All the men got excited about crafting these things together. Then they formed an orchestra with the young people in the community. You listen to these kids play this music, and it brings tears to your eyes—you see the joy/the excitement. One little girl—her reaction to the whole thing—she says, “I love the music because it makes me feel joy.” Light, you see, is kind of shed on this little community that lives in a garbage dump because somebody unleashed the giftedness.
Dennis: There’s one last assignment I’ve got for you that I want to ask you before we conclude today’s broadcast; but, first, Bob, tell them how to get a copy of the book.
Bob: The book is called The Person Called You. We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com to request your copy. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” The information about Bill’s book is available right there. Again, you can order, online, the book, The Person Called You, by Bill Hendricks; or call 1-800-358-6329 to request your copy of the book—that number is 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
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Dennis: Well, it’s been our treat today to have Bill Hendricks, talking about your giftedness. Bill, you know, I went to your dad’s funeral/—
Dennis: —memorial service, back in the spring of 2013—a great two-hour service that honored your father and your mother. You, and your brother, and sister gave tributes to your dad. We’ve featured them, here on FamilyLife Today.
Bill: Right, yes.
Dennis: I thought, in preparation for this broadcast, I would give you the opportunity to give your mom a tribute.
Bill: Oh, my goodness—yes!
Dennis: She really enjoyed listening to your tribute to your dad. I’d like to surprise her with a tribute. Could you give her a tribute?
I said at the memorial service—and it’s absolutely true—that I was the youngest of four, but the truth is I was mom’s favorite. [Laughter] What I mean by that is she saw in me things that I did not see in myself. From a very young age, she nurtured me. We talk about sort of encouraging the giftedness—Mom did that with me.
My mother never shamed me for the energy that I would display. Now, look! I was a very rambunctious kid / I was the classic precocious kid. Worst of all, I was the classic mischievous kid. You know, people talk about coming to faith and they came out of a background of crime, and drugs, and all of this stuff. Well, I didn’t grow up in that background; but, trust me, when, at four-and-a-half, I was confronted with the notion of sin, that made all the sense in the world to me—I knew I was a sinner.
My mom believed in me. Despite whatever sins I had, she saw there was real potential in me—she nurtured it / she encouraged it.
Mom, I want to say, “Thank you.” I said it at the memorial service and I believe it even more so today—when I was a child, growing up, you were there. You held me. You nurtured me. You read to me. You showed me right from wrong. I’m probably a sane and functional person today thanks to you.
You saw potential in me that I certainly didn’t see, but you put kind of a hedge of protection around me to help me flourish into what Proverbs calls “the way that God had prepared for me to go in.” I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.
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