“What do you do?”

That may be the most common question asked when meeting someone. It is “understood” that the real question is, “What do you do for work?”

Sometimes they actually want to know, though in my experience it’s usually an “ice breaker.” Perhaps if we made our answers more interesting, the ice would melt instead of being broken.

There was a time when I would answer the “what do you do” question this way.

“I show people how to swing a club more effectively so they can do maximum damage to their opponents.”

The fun part of that description was watching the reactions of the questioner. Their image of swinging a club, while not fully formed, always put them on guard. The phrase “do maximum damage” often made them lean away a little.

Responses to that answer were far more interesting than when I said simply, “I’m a tennis pro.”

These days I often answer the “what do you do” question with one word: good.

I hope you’ll consider using that answer yourself, and that after a little conversation the person who asked you might use it as well.

Over the years, though, very few people have ever asked me the more important question: “Why do you do what you do?”

Why?

Why? It is among the earliest and most persistent of questions asked by children.

And when I say children, I of course mean all of us.

We are, after all, children of God. Some of us admit it, some of us forget it, but when we want to know why we talk to dad.

Why did I get sick? Why did that deal fall through? And the catch all that can be good (as it is in the song) or bad, “Why me, Lord?”

Here is the odd thing about “why” questions, whether asked of an earthly parent or a heavenly father: they are rarely answered. The answer I remember hearing when I asked Why? was Because. That is hardly an answer, but I knew it ended the conversation.

Only much later in life did I understand that “because” was shorthand for “If you could understand I’d tell you. In the meantime, trust me.”

Part of the reason God rarely, if ever, answers the “why” question is the same. We are incapable of comprehending everything a full answer would entail. Also we should trust that God has it right, whether the outcome serves us or our inconvenient problems serve some higher but unknown good.

There is a “why” we can answer, however, and that is, “Why do you do what you do?”

Because

Go ahead and take the answer from Parenting 101, and say because. But you shouldn’t have to. Ideally you will know exactly why you are doing what you do for a living. Even more ideally the complete answer will be, “Because it is what I was called to do.”

Unless you are a preacher, that precise phrasing may seem a little weird. So here is a variation: “Because it is what I was born to do.”

Now that is interesting and could be the beginning of a beautiful conversation. You might even follow it up with, “What were you born to do?”

If you don’t turn it back to them, you are likely to be asked, “How did you know?” by someone who is serious. That is a good thing, and the conversation can go deep and be a lot of fun. People really do want to know what they are called to do with their time, skills, and other assets.

Some already know they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Many don’t. Everyone should.

I pause here to note that “should” can sound a little harsh. I don’t mean it in the sense of obligation but in the sense of desirability. When there is a certainty that you are doing the right thing, life and work both get easier.

I have a “how to live” three part statement, and last week I wrote about the first part: Be who God made you to be.

The second part is this: Do what God calls you to do.

A call you don’t want to miss

We all know what it means to be “called” to do something.

For a guy it might be a phone call from a friend. “Hey Buddy! How’s it goin’? Say, I’ve got a grand piano over here that I need to take upstairs. Can you be a pal and bring that strong back of yours over?”

And you will say yes, because it is your friend calling. God calling is exactly the same. Almost. Except his call might not come on the phone or in a text. It might, but then again it could be something totally random.

For now I’m leaving the discovery of “that was God calling” up to you. One day I’ll write about how you know it’s God and not someone trying to sound like God. Just remember, if you aren’t 100% sure be very careful.

In the Bible there is God calling Abram (later called Abraham), and we don’t know how. Genesis says, “Now the Lord said to Abram.” Maybe it really was an audible. With Moses it was a burning bush. Hard to miss that one!

With me it was a random phrase that came out of my own mouth that led to Do Good U. I had honestly never thought of that phrase even once, and I said it with such confidence that I knew it was what I had to do.

Some people think God doesn’t guide them, and that may be because they don’t ask. I always want to know what God wants me to be doing. That might be a career and it might be helping move a piano, but when he calls I don’t want to miss it.

Don’t keep your ear to the ground, keep it to the sky. Listen for God and do what he calls you to do.

Of course there is one thing he has called us all to do, and I’ll bet you know what it is.

Good.

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