Vocation 3: Obstacles


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Transcript of Video:

Most people who are struggling to find their vocation very often aren’t really looking in the right place. Vocation comes from the root which means to call or to be called and a calling as in the gospel the example of Jesus calling the disciples, first of all John’s disciples, “Come and see,” and later the other disciples, “Come follow me.” So ask people who are looking for vocation what gives you the most satisfaction. What sort of – what calls to you to really feel that you are doing something worthwhile. Something that feeds you intellectually and emotionally. Maybe not all at the same time but both of those factors are usually there.

In truth, very often when a person is seeking their true vocation, they will find that it’s not always an easy road. Sometimes there are obstacles to be overcome. And in seeking one’s true vocation one needs to penetrate why it is that those obstacles are there. Is it something saying look someplace else or is it something saying you’ve got to work your way through this.

– Br. David Allen


  1. Rev. Karen Chavez on April 12, 2014 at 15:58

    Sometimes we seek our vocation and sometimes our vocation seeks us. The Holy Spirit lead me to mine and I must say that the Spirit is a nag. She will use any means possible to get your attention and once she does she will not let go. The way may be rough at times but it is a thrilling ride!

  2. Sr. Donna Morgan on April 11, 2014 at 09:47

    My vocation feeds me both intellectually and spiritually! How blessed am I?? This vocation has been developing for the past several years and has given me more peace and joy than I have ever thought was possible. God has continued to call me closer and closer to Him and I am the most unlikely candidate. In years gone by, I lived life looking and searching for what? and allowing the human me to get in the way of peace and happiness, to what end? to find that God is who fills me with satisfaction and makes me whole.

  3. LindaR on April 10, 2014 at 22:32

    I’m fifty and starting over from scratch. I need to re-enter the job market somehow, with no college credits, some health issues, and a very thin, rusty resume. I’m also trying to find my way back into a parish after a long absence. There’s a lot of fear and self-doubt to work through, as well as those very practical obstacles. There’s no safety net except prayer and trying to learn to trust more deeply that God loves me and knows what he’s doing.

  4. Win on April 10, 2014 at 13:34

    Every day I pin a cross over my heart and say a prayer which ends with, “Lord, what will you have me do?” It’s always a question that catches me. I’ve come to see that I usually make that question too difficult! Keep it simple has become my mantra and wait to see what unfolds, for something always does. At the end of the day, I’m better able to assess whether I’ve done what the Lord has asked or not, but even then I do take my thoughts with a grain of salt!

  5. Barbara Harris on April 10, 2014 at 12:06

    The obstacle I face is that I too frequently I encounter an obstacle and just change direction. I excuse it as knowing that the path to what God wants for me should be easier than the path I want. so if there is an obstacle I just refocus and move in another direction. This in itself is a form of egotism that may cause me to miss my true vocation. Thank you Br. David for pointing this out so clearly!

  6. Marilyn Weir on April 10, 2014 at 08:13

    I think one of the greatest quandaries of life, for me anyway, is knowing when obstacles mean ‘it’s time to do something else’ or ‘I need to keep pushing forward’. Our American culture glorifies the person who “overcomes all odds.” The three things that I was most deeply impassioned about as a child – two of which were obvious gifts – were squashed by the behavior of my parents and other significant adults. I’ve never fully overcome that damage.

  7. Dorothy Brown on April 10, 2014 at 06:17

    I wish I did have a vocation that fed me intellectually and spiritually, that I felt was worthwhile. In the beginning I felt that way, but now I only endure my job. I am willing to hear God tell me of another way that I can serve Him and I pray every day that I may be of use to my fellow man. That is what I want to do, but I am frustrated by the need to make money to survive. Some of the others are already retired, but I am 65 years old and don’t know if I will ever be able financially to truly retire. That is my challenge I guess, to trust God and let go.

    • Leonard on April 10, 2014 at 17:49

      What honesty. I pray you find an answer and that God will lead you into a sense of meaning and purpose.

  8. Gloria Veltman on April 9, 2014 at 21:57

    I am semi-retired now, in good health, after several years of inner turmoil and high stress. Despite all the things I am involved in, I still feel called to do something more vocational, possibly cross-curricular (is there such a term?) Probaby something involving writing which has been a dominant theme through-out my life. So what are the obstacles? As others have said, probably me but also an inability (probably me) to make the connections I need. But there has been a recent idea I am going to pursue and some other glimmers.

  9. Leonard on April 9, 2014 at 20:31

    Like Cush, I say, “My biggest obstacle is my age and physical limitation. I thought that retirement would be to just sit back and let the youngsters do it — wrong.”
    I didn’t retire at 65 to begin a wiser, slower course. Instead my ‘self’ got in the way as it often has in the past, and I thought that doing rather then being would be a fulfilment during (non)retirement!.
    So now at 70, and with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, I am now finally learning to sit rather than run, listen rather than just hear, and write rather than talk.
    Maybe in the relative quietness, I will in “being still” hear the voice of God. Certainly by following this series, I have come closer to that goal. Thanks to the Brothers.

  10. John Okerman on April 9, 2014 at 19:34

    My obstacle now that I’m retired is time and prioritization. I have things I would like to do, vocations I would like to pursue. For me I must pray for the ability to prioritize those things I would like to do and ensure I take the time to do them.

  11. Kathleen Sheehy on April 9, 2014 at 16:02

    I see vocation as having levels. On one level, we all share a vocation to be channels of God’s love to the world. Obstacles for me in that area include my desire to be comfortable. On another level is the vocation to which God has specifically called each of us. I’m pretty confident that my life in the theatre is His call because I haven’t heard Him say anything different! And it’s anything but an easy row to hoe. There are plenty of rewards: as Brother David says, it feeds me intellectually and emotionally. Generally that makes it worthwhile.

  12. gwedhen nicholas on April 9, 2014 at 15:49

    As a church organist, I feel that I have found my vocation. There were obstacles along the way before I realized that this was my vocation though. It took me a long time to trust God that this indeed was my calling. I wanted to be something else. Something I felt would be more important like being a doctor or a nun. Something where I felt I was really doing Gods’ work. So I kept on daydreaming. I came to realize though that what I was called to I was already doing; and it was important; and it was doing Gods’ work.. I kept resisting, until I realized didn’t need to do anything else. Since I have realized this, I have grown within my vocation, and feel good about myself and Gods’ choice for me.

  13. Pam on April 9, 2014 at 15:27

    For me I think the obstacles are fear and not trusting that,that inner voice is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I think when confronted with the ‘next step’ and I hear His voice just to trust it, move and let it flow from there….. And if it wasn’t Him I have lost nothing as nothing learnt or experienced within the obedience of God , is wasted. I think I’ve spent too long going around in circles looking for what He is calling me too instead of just relaxing and taking the first step. Perhaps inadvertently I might just discover my greatest passion, which in truth deep down I think I already know 🙂

  14. MRM on April 9, 2014 at 13:12

    I have been blest over most of my adult life to feel a sense of call to all of the activities and responsibilities that have filled my days. But that is less true today, and there are some choices appearing. My obstacles are uncertainty and, in a sense, a paucity of faith. I have little confidence in my ability to discern the Lord’s voice in the midst of the constant clamor of my own. And so I wait for God’s 2×4, as time slips away.

  15. Kathryn on April 9, 2014 at 12:42

    I am my own problem – only obstacle is to shore up my confidence that God will provide!

  16. Deacon Susan in California on April 9, 2014 at 11:41

    I wrote my comment and somehow it got deleted by Chrome… Always an obstacle with technology! Try again: My best resource when I meet an obstacle is to enlist others to pray for me and alongside me. Prayer teams, trees, warriors, whatever they’re called, I ask for prayer. Communal intercessory prayer melts away my obstacles and brings me clarity.

  17. kc on April 9, 2014 at 10:53

    As I have struggled to find my niche – vocation – this speaks loudly to me. I admire those who find theirs easily. I have not, though I have many, many interests. I will keep at it; life is looking shorter all the time as the years go by, so dive in!

  18. Cush on April 9, 2014 at 10:37

    My biggest obstacle is my age and physical limitation. I thought that retirement would be to just sit back and let the youngsters do it — wrong. After a lot of prayer I have agreed to once again take a leadership role and respond to that call and I pray that I can get myself out of the way and continue to go where God is leading me.

  19. Martha on April 9, 2014 at 10:09

    Thank you, Brother David, for your message to “work around a barrier” which is sometimes necessary. Recently, I felt called to take steps on my spiritual journey to “move around what seemed a huge immovable boulder” as painful as it was to do. But surrounded and supported with God’s love through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, now I feel free, joyful, able to love myself and others, at peace. Thanks be to God.

  20. TM on April 9, 2014 at 10:04

    I totally agree with a previous poster who said my biggest obstacle is “me”. That may be due to selfish impulses that keep me from putting others and God first. That may be due to self-perceived inadequacies that keep me from tackling new challenges. That may be a lack of persistence that would have brought me to a new, better place, but I gave up too soon. The only thing I can do to overcome these obstacles is to put God first, remember that He made me wonderfully well and that I can do anything, and to go forth to love and serve the Lord.

  21. Emily Hauser on April 9, 2014 at 10:04

    This was a beautiful and very timely reminder of understanding what one’s true ‘vocation’ – calling – is. This past week I have been going through a lot of emotional and physical stress, trying to balance all the different elements of my life and achieve success within them. The beauty of the idea of vocation is that it is something that God calls you to – and whatever you do for Him is enough, be it large or small. Success takes on a completely different tenor. I believe that the obstacles I have been facing are reminders that I must trust in God to lead the way along the path of my vocation – that there is such a thing as trying too hard, instead of relaxing and praying to hear the call that is always there!

  22. Mary Caulfield on April 9, 2014 at 09:50

    This may seem tangential, and maybe folks in the church won’t like this, but Brother David’s reflection made me think of a book I’m reading on executive coaching. The premise is that when people become less creative or effective on the job it’s because they are trying to distract themselves from facing an internal crisis. The problems they name aren’t the real problems, but distractions from the main issue. For me, I think the obstacle is fear of committing to a path and fear of looking honestly at the steps I would need to take to be the person I want to be.

  23. Christopher Barnhart on April 9, 2014 at 09:34

    In early February this year, we had a major problem with our septic tank, distribution box and leach field. The septic tank lid had to be removed and a layer of roots and other stuff from many years be removed. To do this a back hoe had to access the side, remove the dirt and then remove the lid on the septic tank, remove the roots, replace the lid. in the process, it was found the the out flow pipe from the tank to the distribution box had been crushed by tree limbs. That had to be repaired, Then the distribution box and leech lines were also full of roots had to be replaced. All this work heavily damage and destroyed the landscape in our front yard. I looked at this as an oppurtunity to change and rebuild the landscape and make it anew. This is taking some time and some energy on my part, but being retired, I have plenty of time to do this. I can dream and visualize what our front yard will look like when completed. All this has been full of obstacals but I look at as an opportunity for change.

  24. Julie Watt Faqir on April 9, 2014 at 08:16

    As someone looking for work in a new state, in a completely different region of the Country this speaks to me quite literally. I know that there is a job out there, but I have to get over the facts that I am having to network (which I do not like to do, being that I am an introvert by nature) and the fact that there is ageism out there in the job market. But I know that with God’s love and patience I will get there.

    • Heidi Edson on April 9, 2014 at 12:41

      I think I can relate. My husband and I just moved to the mainland. Because of age discrimination, my husband could not find employment. Thankfully, his former boss employed him back in our former location. I am looking for my next clergy position which requires much networking (also an introvert!). I feel my husband and I are in the Wilderness and wonder how long before we reach the Promised Land (hopefully not forty years!).
      I wish you success and fulfillment in the job market. Hang in there!

  25. Br. Stephen Francis Arnold, OSB on April 9, 2014 at 08:03

    In walking the path that God has given me to follow, I am confronted with forks in the road that require prayer and meditation to discover the correct direction to follow.

  26. Lorna Harris on April 9, 2014 at 08:00

    One of my main obstacles is reluctance to put my ideas and myself out into the world. “What will people think?” “How stupid I will look!” “How unacceptable will I appear.”. I need to understand the slings and arrows and just let them fly by. Usually it has turned out that there are far far fewer of them than I think there will be.

    • MRM on April 9, 2014 at 13:00

      So often, Lorna, your responses mirror my own. I count my own fear and self interest as an obstacle.

  27. Michael Kolenick on April 9, 2014 at 07:54

    None at the present time…but I agree with the Brother in that when I do, it is something I have to work through.

  28. Jennie M Anderson on April 9, 2014 at 07:16

    “Is it something saying look someplace else or is it something saying you’ve got to work your way through this.” Good words. I think at this time I am dealing with something saying that I have to work my way through this. At the same time, I feel pretty strongly that I am being called to visit my previous occupation while at the same time, broaden the possibilities of what I can be doing now… it is a hard place to be… I am so grateful for this week’s focus on vocation and each of the meditations are speaking right to my heart. Peace.

  29. Christopher Epting on April 9, 2014 at 07:12

    Having published one book — “John Mark: A Gospel Novel” — I am partway through another. Lately though, I cannot seem to find/make time to write. I need to determine whether this is just a temporary case of writer’s block, or if this is really a book that does not need to be written.

  30. Jim on April 9, 2014 at 06:18

    There is always the obstacle of “me” in my way, of course. What I think needs to be done or how I think something needs to be done. I sometimes lack an openness to the Spirit’s work in my like and that too is an obstacle.

    • TM on April 9, 2014 at 10:01

      So well said!!!

  31. Bob on April 9, 2014 at 06:03

    I’m extremely lucky to have a life which, largely, is reflective of my vocation. The obstacles present talk to a need for better collaboration and joint respect to move forward even further.

    I thank you today, Brothers, for letting me reflect on my very good fortune.

  32. suzanne robinson on April 9, 2014 at 05:48

    Thank you Brother David. Physical issues have tried to obstacle my path, first an ankle
    regrown from the inside out ~ miracle, then
    a total knee replacement which now needs to be revised ~ 12 weeks ago a bad fall injured my hip on the opposite side and nerves on the thigh. All I could say was “Lord I am yours,
    pray lead me through this tangled web.”
    “Go slow ~ dwell in gratitude ~ behold Love revealing the Father’s grace and mercy ~ seek ways for us to serve with compassion in the midst of suffering ~ pray for the physician.” This is my hope, this is my
    prayer. Ever in gratitude with love, Brother David,

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