Some of us think about our current job as a calling. For those of us who consider our job a calling, we are lucky. We are lucky we get paid to do something we believe in. We were at the right place, at the right time, and the opportunity coincided with the right time in our life. Also lucky because matching a job and a calling is so rare. This is not to say these jobs are easy, no they are often very difficult. But even on the hardest day, perhaps especially on the hardest day, we feel there’s a higher purpose in what we do. Not everyone has a job they would call their calling.
For many of us our current job is…well, a job. Some jobs are great. We can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. Some of these jobs, for whatever reason, can be terrible. We can’t wait to escape the building every night. Sometimes we feel lucky to have a job. Sometimes we don’t. While we want a good boss, a great culture and interesting work the job’s primary purpose is to provide a paycheck.
I’m not trying to cast judgment on whether a calling is better than a job. We may experience either at different times in our lives. Depending on many factors either can be best for us. I’m more interested in whether this perception of the nature of our work, a calling or a job, changes our level of engagement in our association. This orientation can profoundly affect our professional needs.
When we have a job our need is to do a good job. When we have a calling our need is to make an impact. My guess is job oriented members derive the most value from professional development. Calling oriented members derive value from advocacy, committees and think tank like experiences. Job oriented members seem more inward focused while calling oriented members seem more for-the-good-of-the-profession focused. Job oriented members care more about the benefits they can take advantage of while calling oriented members care about the association’s mission. In fact, even when calling oriented members receive less personal value they still may support the association because they believe in the importance of the mission and association.
Do most of our members have a job? Or do most of our members have a job that is also their calling? Are we getting an unrepresentative proportion of calling oriented members on the board? Think about job oriented members, is the association meeting their needs and talking to them in their language? What about the calling oriented members? Does your profession have more calling oriented members or job oriented members? Do long-time members tend to also be calling oriented members? Which of these segments is most represented in the membership? These are good questions to be asking as we continually make adjustments to meet our member’s needs.