Don’t “Do What You Love”

Yesterday I started our semester-long discussion of how your interest in history might relate to your calling by sharing Frederick Buechner’s oft-cited idea that we should listen for the voice that calls us to the intersection of personal gladness and others’ needs. But some who write about calling worry that the language of “gladness” — if rewritten as the advice “Do what you love” — actually leads us astray.

So before you write Monday’s response paper, you might want to consider this 2014 post by Jeff Haanen at the Mission:Work blog. He quotes from Miya Tokumitsu, who argues that “do what you love” is actually “the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment.” Jumping off from this, and from his reading of Scripture, Haanen concludes that

There is a historical connection between being called, and using your gifts to serve the needs of others. For some this means doing what you love. But for most, it means doing what you must. It means using your skills to bring value and life to your community….

Ironically, when we think about work, chasing after our own happiness will never bring us happiness. It is in serving others and pointing beyond ourselves that happiness is tossed in along the way.

Do you think these are fair points? Can they be reconciled with what you heard from Buechner?


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