Changing jobs & changing lives: thinking about Mother Teresa on Labor Day

A diminutive Albanian nun who thought she was well-settled in her job got a shock on September 7, 1946. No, not a layoff, but something just as disruptive. She eventually referred to it as “the call within a call.” This is worth remembering on this Labor Day, in a time when so many of us find ourselves willingly or unwillingly in transitions at work.

We know this nun today as Mother Teresa. When she embraced her vocation as a Catholic nun, she fully expected to spend her life teaching children. At its best, teaching is noble work, influencing lives for the better. That was her daily work.

So what happened in 1946?  As quoted in the book A Simple Path, Mother Teresa recalled the “call within a call” this way: “When that happens, the only thing to do is to say ‘yes.’ The message was quite clear – I was to give up all and follow Jesus into the slums to serve him in the poorest of the poor.”

It takes courage to leave what seems like a secure job for something new. Think of what we – the whole world – would have missed had she not heeded that call and taken that leap of faith: no Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded. None of the order’s hospitals and hospices. No fearless example of becoming poor in order to serve the poor.

Remember that all this work came from a woman who in midlife let her world be turned upside down by God, in whom she had boundless faith. I suspect my own initial reaction to a similar challenge would be “you’re kidding, right?” But there it stands, the example left for you and me by the first of the Missionaries of Charity.

“This is the future – this is God’s wish for us – to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta, quoted in A Simple Path.

One thought on “Changing jobs & changing lives: thinking about Mother Teresa on Labor Day

  1. Many of us would have convinced ourselves that God -must- not be asking us to do -that-! She is a wonderful example of giving your life to God. Especially considering the fact that she often felt separate and distant from God.

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