I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At.

Do what you love has been a bit of a man­tra of late on the inter­net, at least on the blogs I seem to have been read­ing over the last couple of years. It’s some­thing that I love the sen­ti­ment of, but at the same time some­thing that has nev­er quite sat prop­erly with me. So when I saw the phrase You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At in a tweet link to the match­ing art­icle I instantly saved it to my Instapaper.
I agree entirely with this point:

We’re doing people an incred­ible dis­ser­vice by telling them they should seek, and pur­sue, what they love. People usu­ally can’t dif­fer­en­ti­ate what they really love and what they love the idea of.
But more import­antly, you are not meant to do what you love. You are meant to do what you’re skilled at. 

The trouble comes when the people who are espous­ing the man­tra of do what you love are the for­tu­nate few who’s skill also hap­pen to be what they love. It gives them a dis­tor­ted view that every­one should be doing this and it cre­ates a world­view that doing work is a bad thing unless it’s some­thing you love.
The hus­band of an old col­league of mine had a peri­od of unem­ploy­ment not long after they got mar­ried. It really impacted him as a per­son and I remem­ber talk­ing to my col­league about how her hus­band felt worth­less because of it. He wanted to work because not work­ing made him feel worth­less. When he did get a job, it was not in some­thing he loved, but it gave him mean­ing again. He was con­trib­ut­ing to soci­ety, not reli­ant on it. He was giv­ing some­thing of him­self to do it and what he was doing had value because of it.
As a Chris­ti­an I believe we are designed to work, God even designed and mod­elled the week around it six days of work and one day of rest (Sab­bath). The theo­lo­gian Tim Keller in his book Every Good Endeav­our states

Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friend­ship, pray­er, and sexu­al­ity; it is not simply medi­cine but food for our soul. Without mean­ing­ful work we sense sig­ni­fic­ant inner loss and empti­ness. People who are cut off from work because of phys­ic­al or oth­er reas­ons quickly dis­cov­er how much they need work to thrive emo­tion­ally, phys­ic­ally, and spiritually. 

This is exactly what my colleague’s hus­band exper­i­enced. Without work he struggled in exactly the way Tim sug­gests we will. When we fall into the trap of telling people to only do what they love, we do a dis­ser­vice to work. For some people their work involves doing what they love, whilst for oth­ers it involves doing what they are skilled at. For some, maybe even the major­ity, it involves doing a job because it gives them value and helps them serve people around them.
The art­icle fin­ishes with this quote which I think sums up the value of work, of any kind, superbly.

The real joy of daily work is in what we have to give. We are not ful­filled by what we can seek to please us, but what we can build and offer. It is not fame, or money, or recog­ni­tion that makes for a thor­oughly mean­ing­ful life, it is how we put our gifts to use. It is how we give.