Bob Buford had it made. He was an entrepreneur in the startup days of cable TV. But financial success did not shield him from tragedy. His tragedy made him rethink his life’s calling.
Buford’s father died when he was a child. In his teens he wanted to become a TV executive. He achieved that goal by the time he was 40. A few years later, tragedy struck. His son, recently graduated from college, drowned trying to swim across the Rio Grande.
As a Christian, Buford eventually realized the tragedy was an opportunity to reflect on what matters, what gives meaning to life. “God, you have given my life into my hands,” he prayed. “I give it back to you. My time, my property, my life itself…I release the cares and concerns of this world, knowing you loved me enough to give your only Son in my behalf.” Buford entered the second half of his life with a new calling.
Ten years after the tragedy, Buford explained what he had learned. His book, Halftime, focuses on finding significance rather than success. He urges readers “to find the one thing that is uniquely yours – the thing that once found, will enable you to make a difference.” That sentiment reflects the calling, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
Buford poses some questions to help clarify your calling, whether you are a student, in mid-career, or contemplating life as a retiree. His first question strikes at the heart of the matter: “What is your primary loyalty in life?” Money? Career? Leisure? Jesus Christ? You can only put one thing in that box. “If you do not choose the one thing that belongs in the box,” he writes, “life’s inertia will choose it for you.”
Here are some follow up questions. What would you die for? Do you live like that is true, with courage and sacrifice? What do you do so well, you would do it without pay? Do meaningful experiences from your past suggest a new focus for your life? What must you learn or change to re-align your life to what you value? These are urgent questions because what you do with your time is what you do with your life.
What is your life’s calling? For the believer, the answer starts with who’s doing the calling. God “has called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace,” Paul writes. He “was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher” (1 Tim. 1:9,11), but God may call you to be a banker, educator, manager, carpenter, or volunteer. Regardless, your holy calling means, “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:24).