In the last issue of Rolling Stone there was a lengthy interview with Bob Dylan. In the midst of it, I was fascinated to hear him talk about about work and calling. It seemed very insightful which really shouldn't be surprising.
Rolling Stone: So live performance is a purpose you find fulfilling?
Dylan: If you’re not fulfilled in other ways, performing can never make you happy. Performing is something you have to learn how to do it. You do it, you get better at it, you keep going. And if you don’t get better at it, you have to give it up. Is it a fulfilling way of life? What kind of way of life is fulfilling? No kind of life is fulfilling if your soul hasn’t been redeemed.
You’ve described what you do not as a career but as a calling.
Everybody has a calling, don’t they? Some have a high calling, some have a low calling. Everybody is called but few are chosen. There is a lot of distraction for people, so you might not never find the real you. A lot of people don’t.
How would you describe your calling?
Mine? Not any different than anybody else’s. Some people are called to be a good sailor. Some people have a calling to be a good tiller of the land. Some people are called to be a good friend. You have to be the best at whatever you’re called at. Whatever you do. You ought to be the best at it – highly skilled. It’s about confidence – not arrogance.
Way back when, when Denis and I began thinking about what in the world “Jesus is Lord over all of life” meant, we wondered how that could be as we cleaned dental offices for a few years while finishing up school. How could God be just as pleased with us doing that as when we were practicing a spiritual discipline like prayer or Bible reading. We had enormous barriers that kept us thinking that a call to “The Ministry” was a higher calling than the poor sot who goes to a JOB every day. It took time, reading, and lots of discussion to move us to a place in life where we could say, yes, this menial labor, this repetition of vacuuming and emptying, day after day, returning exam rooms and lobbies to clean orderliness – this is what God has called us to do for now. And it is good. As good as being a missionary to the homeless. We learned to honor God with our brooms and dust cloths, like Dylan does with words and guitar.