Many of us reach a certain point in our lives and wonder if we’re really doing what we’re meant to be doing in our work lives. We begin to wonder “What’s my mission in life?”

Some are fortunate to discover their mission early and never divert from it. Others seem to wander constantly searching for it. For most of us, the answer lies right in front of us, but we go through life missing the obvious clues.

One reason we become unhappy in our careers is, over time as our careers progress, we make choices that compromise our values and move us away from our strengths, talents and core gifts until our souls can’t take the pain any more and they cry out in sadness and longing for the work
we were truly meant to do.

We have different missions at different stages of our lives but there is a central theme to our global mission. This theme is the common thread that runs through our lives and for many of us that theme has probably been there since we were children.

Our first mission
Beginning the process of setting our work lives in order requires us to acknowledge that, as Christians, we have multiple missions. The first is to embrace and live the two great commandments. Nothing else we do matters until we accept that first mission and we’ll be unable to have a faith-centered career – or life – until we embrace that mission first.

Our second mission
Our second mission as people of faith is related to the first. It’s “to serve.”

Each of us serves someone no matter where we are on the corporate hierarchy. Even the owner of a company serves others -- by producing widgets he serves the customer.

We fulfill this second mission by fully embracing our first mission and accepting our role as servant to others.

Our third mission
Our third mission is to embrace our core gift and joyfully use the strengths and talents we’ve been given. Our core gift is the intersection of our strengths and talents. It’s that point where both of them are used for maximum impact while bringing ourselves the greatest joy.

This point of intersection isn’t so much a job title as it is the action driving our lives. Each of us can sum that theme up in a simple sentence: “I _______.” Whether it’s “I teach” or “I wait on others” or “I build” or something else. It’s “I” plus the verb or verb phrase that describes what you do best.

The difference between strengths and talents
Strengths are those things we do well. We learned them quickly; we enjoy doing them and we often enjoy learning more about them. Performing them may come easily to us but it still takes some work. For example, I write pretty well. I like writing and can spend all day doing it. I even enjoy spending all day studying how to write better. But make no
mistake about it writing is work for me.

Talents are those things that come very easily to you. Your talent may have started as a strength and blossomed or it may be something that you’ve always been able to do. Public speaking
is a talent for me. I was nervous when I first started speaking in college and very nervous when I taught my first seminar; but I was never so nervous that I thought I couldn’t teach. I’ve made presentations to groups as large as 500 and lived to tell about it. It comes easily to me. I can’t explain why. You probably can’t explain your talent either.

You may have more than one strength and more than one talent. Make a list of all your strengths and identify your single greatest one. Then identify the one great talent you have. In Now, Discover Your Strengths, authors Buckingham and Clifton assert that only 20% of us use our strengths at work. You may need a friend or relative who knows you well who can help you
with this or you may want to consider taking a battery of assessments.

Your core gift
Your core gift is where your greatest strength and your greatest talent intersect. It’s where you get your greatest joy and what others are drawn to you for. It’s something you’ve always done and, even if you wanted to, couldn’t stop yourself from doing. It’s almost a compulsion.

So where does your strength and talent intersect?
Once you’ve taken some time to identify your core gift, try to express it as I + a verb. For example, my core gift is “I teach.”

I often write all day but in my heart I’m teaching the reader about whatever subject I’m writing about. I’ve actually been teaching since I was a teenager and it’s truly a compulsion with me.

If you’re ready to embrace your three primary missions in life, begin with considering how you can best fulfill the first two: Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul; and how you can serve others. After you’ve focused on them, then you’re ready to consider how you can embrace your core gift and fulfill the many missions you have as a child of God in this world.

Author's Bio: 

Writer and consultant Winnie Anderson publishes "The Mustard Seed," a twice monthly ezine featuring articles, tips, and resources for creating a faith-centered career. Get a fr*ee chapter to the e-book “Faith From 9 to 5: How to Overcome the Seven Deadly Sins and Live Your Faith at Work” when you sign up at livemyfaithatwork.com. It’s the book Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus calls “…provocative and reflective!”