Empirical research on work as a calling has grown exponentially over the last two decades; it is now a global and vibrant area of scholarship within the fields of psychology and organizational behavior. Results emerging from research on calling address questions of major interest to Christians, yet remain almost entirely overlooked within contemporary Christian discourse on calling and vocation. In response, this paper briefs readers on the current state of the research on calling, including common methods, definitions, and strategies for measuring calling; prevalence and cross-cultural generalizability of calling; antecedents, correlates, and consequences of calling; and proposed mechanisms and theories explaining how callings link to outcomes in work and life. The essay attends to the specific implications of this research for Christian scholars; it then concludes with a brief summary, critique, and commentary on the practical implications of this area of research.
The notion that work can be pursued as a calling has a long cultural history, most centrally (although not exclusively1) within the Christian tradition.2 The early church understood “calling” in salvific terms, as a calling by God to salvation in Christ and to a life of obedience. This shifted in the Middle Ages, when monastic life emerged as a preferred way of living out the faith for some. During this period, the broad language of calling added a more specific usage, referring to a belief that God called some Christians to “religious life” in the cloister. This eventually created a hierarchy in which some Christians were considered to have a more urgent call by virtue of their “religious vocation,” a notion that paralleled ancient Greek ideals that privileged the life of the mind and considered manual labor as akin to a curse.3
During the Reformation, Martin Luther pushed hard against this kind of spiritual hierarchy, advocating for a worldview in which any legitimate (i.e., not evil) form of work could glorify God and serve the common good. John Calvin and famously the Puritans affirmed and extended this view by recognizing that one’s gifts could form the basis of one’s “particular” calling, a perspective that strongly resonates even now within modern career counseling. Christians today typically retain the view that distinguishes between a general or primary calling to a relationship with Christ and a life of discipleship, and a specific or secondary calling to serve God within a particular vocational path.
This long history contrasts with a very short past when it comes to social science research on the role and function of calling in people’s lives and work. Now a vibrant and international topic of study, such research on calling essentially did not exist prior to the 1990s. During the last two decades, however, it has grown exponentially, and offers valuable insights to Christians desiring a more comprehensive understanding of the role a sense of calling can play in people’s career decision-making and general approach to work.
Some may question the use of mainstream psychological science—or any other extra-biblical source of knowledge—to inform Christian understandings of a phenomenon like “calling” within the domain of work. Scripture may be authoritative on all matters it addresses, but it is not an encyclopedia or instruction manual that sheds light on every problem of living in the modern world. “What career path should I pursue?” is a question the Bible’s original audience seldom (if ever) asked, given that most men inherited their professions and most women were expected to serve their homes and families. And yet, many modern Chris- tians struggle mightily with questions like this. They are wise to use a prayerful discernment process that follows the Bible’s broad directives for seeking God’s will for their lives. Yet the specific question of discerning a calling within a career path can also be productively informed by current research, which sheds light on what works for people who are asking such questions—and what difference it makes when they land on answers. While recognizing serious pitfalls in the enterprise of psychological science, I argue (with many others) that, since God’s revealing acts are known in part through humans and our relationships with each other and with the created order, “psychological science can be used to celebrate creation and acknowledge God’s authority.”4 Striving for a constructive integration approach, I will engage in critical evaluation and suggest new directions for this research, informed by a Christian worldview. However, the main purpose of this paper is to simply summarize current research on work as a calling, which is almost entirely overlooked in current Christian discourse on faith and work.5
To begin, I share what Ryan Duffy and I originally articulated as our own assumptions regarding people and work in carrying out psychological research on calling:
First, we view persons as active agents capable of genuine intentionality, fore-thought, self-regulation, and self-reflectiveness (Bandura, 2006), but we also assume this agency to be influenced by complex interactions among biological, environmental, and spiritual factors (Bandura, 1982; Chen, 2006; Jones, 1994). Second, we assume that humans are meaning-making organisms (e.g., Baumeister, 1991; Frankl, 1969; Wong and Fry, 1998) who consciously and sub-consciously construct both global and particular meanings for life experiences. Third, we assume with Super (1980) that individuals enact a constellation of life roles that interact in varied and complex ways. We consider work to occupy one of these life roles and define working broadly to include any activity or effort, paid or unpaid, that is directed toward accomplishing or producing something that fills a societal or organizational need. (We acknowledge with Blustein  that distinctions between work and nonwork are not “neat and tidy” [p. 24] and that activities often are approached through the lenses of multiple life roles.) Fourth, we assume that humans, by necessity, live in societies bound by common needs and mutual service (e.g., Blustein, 2006; Hardy, 1990; Robitschek and Woodson, 2006) and that work role activities therefore have direct or indirect social implications that vary in magnitude. Finally, we assume that obstacles to meaningfulness and purpose at work are present on multiple levels (e.g., individual, organizational, societal) but also that these obstacles are amenable to change.6
The extent to which other researchers on vocation and calling share these assumptions is unclear, but readers will note that a Christian understanding of persons is implicit in them. They converge, for example, with the biblical view of human nature articulated by Moes and Tellinghuisen7 using five themes: humans are relational persons; broken and in need of redemption; embodied; responsible limited agents; and meaning-seekers. Also implicit in this articulation is my belief as a Christian that the term “calling” implies a caller,8 and that ultimately this caller is God, whether recognized by people who experience a sense of calling within their career or not.9
In the following sections, I describe the current state of psychological research on work as a calling; outline the common methods used in this area of research; summarize how calling is defined and measured; report evidence of the prevalence and cross-cultural generalizability of calling; present (at a high level) what research reveals about antecedents, correlates, and consequences of calling; and share the proposed mechanisms and new theories of how callings link to outcomes in work and life. I close by offering a brief critique and summary of lessons learned from this area of research, along with short commentary on practical implications.
Psychological Research on Work as a Calling
As noted earlier, psychological research in this area has been growing rapidly within the last two decades across diverse disciplines, but especially within vocational psychology (a subfield of counseling psychology that studies career choice and development) and organizational behavior (a subfield of management that studies behavior in organizational settings and overlaps substantially with industrial-organizational psychology). Besides being recent, this growth has been exponential; more than 80% of empirical research on calling has been published since 2011.10 It is worth noting that other research within vocational psychology and organizational behavior, even when not examining “calling” specifically, also addresses key questions that are highly relevant to understanding how to discern and live out a calling (for example, asking which factors predict favorable outcomes in the career choice process). While recognizing the relevance of this broader context, I am focusing in this section on research that investigates people’s experiences related to work as a calling. Although “psychological research” is often construed broadly, perhaps especially by Christian psychologists,11 I focus here on empirical research—that is, efforts to apply the scientific method to this topic.
In terms of the methods deployed, most empirical studies of calling—86% in one review12 —use top-down, quantitative approaches. This strategy requires researchers to begin with a clear definition of calling, then develop a way to measure it, translating the abstraction into numerical units. Conventionally, researchers use self-report instruments to accomplish this objective, a method that reinforces an individualistic bias in the profession (more on this later). These instruments are subjected to rigorous tests to establish evidence of reliability and validity. Once “validated,” these instruments are administered to samples of participants in surveys that also include established measures of relevant “criterion variables.” Within this type of cross-sectional design, correlations are observed, permitting researchers to identify how strongly and in which direction a sense of calling is associated with criterion variables such as job and career satisfaction, work engagement, or absenteeism. However, causal inferences cannot be made with these types of designs. For example, a sense of calling may lead to job satisfaction, but job satisfaction may also reinforce or even evoke a sense of calling; moreover, some unmeasured third variable (e.g., a “positive emotionality” personality trait) may influence both simultaneously. All these dynamics are masked in cross-sectional studies. Longitudinal designs, in which participants are measured repeatedly over time, can help tease out causal directions. Experimental designs in which a “treatment group” is compared to a control or comparison group are possible but rare within calling research, generally limited to studies of career development interventions. Finally, a smaller proportion of studies (11% in the previously mentioned review) investigate calling using bottom-up qualitative approaches in which participants are asked to respond to open-ended questions, either in a survey or more commonly in interviews, and their responses are coded to identify themes. Such studies, with their “thick description” of participants’ lived experience, offer valuable insights better suited for theory-building than theory-testing.
Defining and measuring calling
Most empirical investigations of calling point out that the term lacks a consensus definition. An influential, oft-cited early study defined calling as one’s “focus on enjoyment of fulfilling, socially useful work”13 and examined the extent to which people identify with a calling orientation, in contrast to job (i.e., a focus on financial rewards) or career (i.e., a focus on achievement and advancement) orientations. Although this tripartite distinction remains a popular way to describe differences in work attitudes, subsequent research has usually investigated calling on its own terms rather than in contrast to other work orientations.
As the literature grew, a distinction emerged between “neoclassical” and “modern” conceptualizations of calling. Neoclassical definitions retain but broaden historical and religious understandings of the term. For example, Bunderson and Thompson defined calling as “that place in the occupational division of labor in society that one feels destined to fulfill by virtue of particular gifts, talents, and/or idiosyncratic life opportunities.”14 Similarly, Duffy and I defined calling as “a transcendent summons, experienced as originating beyond the self, to approach a particular life role in a manner oriented toward demonstrating or deriving a sense of purpose or meaningfulness and that holds other-oriented values and goals as primary sources of motivation.”15 Modern definitions are represented by Dobrow and Tosti-Kharas’s conceptualization of calling as “a consuming, meaningful passion toward a domain.”16 Other definitions represent a hybrid of the two approaches, describing calling as purposeful or meaningful work that is socially important. For example, Elangovan, Pinder, and McLean defined calling as “a course of action in pursuit of prosocial intentions embodying the convergence of an individual’s sense of what he or she would like to do, should do, and actually does.”17 One team of scholars in Italy eschewed the neoclassical/modern distinction and simply included all dimensions of calling proposed in the literature in a single conceptualization, with calling representing “an identification with the calling domain, pervasiveness of thoughts regarding the calling domain, purposefulness, transcendent summons, prosocial orientation, sacrifice, and passion.”18
In an effort to draw together these diverse perspectives, Thompson and Bunderson suggested that the most “powerful” experiences of work as a calling reflect both the “inner requiredness” (i.e., self-actualization) of the modern view and the “outer requiredness” (i.e., self-transcendence) of the neoclassical view. When a person experiences both, they argued, the result is a “transcendent calling.”19 Some scholars have suggested that the diverse definitions of calling share a common core (e.g., a sense of purpose). This argument is supported by evidence derived using statistical techniques such as cluster analysis and taxometric analysis.20 Results from these studies suggest that people’s understandings of calling are not categorically distinct but rather differ as a matter of degree, depending on which aspects of calling are emphasized.
The diverse definitions in the literature have been used to inform the development of diverse instruments to measure a sense of calling—no fewer than 14, in one recent review.21 Some are brief and unidimensional, simply asking participants to rate the extent to which they view their work or career as a calling. Most are multi-item scales designed to measure the underlying dimensions of calling. Most have also undergone rigorous evaluation and have demonstrated strong psychometric support. Yet only one study has directly compared multiple instruments with the same group of participants. In their comparison, Duffy and colleagues22 administered the five most frequently used measures of calling at the time to a sample of working adults in the United States. Results revealed some subtle differences, but scores on all five instruments were highly intercorrelated, and each instrument succeeded in predicting scores on work-related outcomes in hypothesized directions. Most scales available in the literature assess a person’s perception of having a calling; two also measure the extent to which one is searching for a calling.23 As research has progressed, scholars have introduced measures of other aspects of the construct as well, such as one’s motivation to pursue a calling24 and one’s sense that they are currently living out their calling.25
Ultimately, how a calling is best defined is not a scientific question. Yet the fact that diverse conceptualizations and measures of calling exist creates challenges for ongoing research, which may lack coherence and evoke confusion. For example, when diverse definitions correspond to diverse measurement instruments, which scale(s) should new researchers interested in studying calling use? How should differences that may emerge in research using different scales be interpreted? Are they the result of differences in how calling is defined, differences in the psychometric properties of those scales, differences in the demo- graphic makeup of participant samples, or some combination of these? More fundamentally, if there is disagreement on the construct’s meaning, what is fair to conclude from research on calling’s role and function in career development and work behavior?
These questions are crucial and are still being sorted out. However, a recent meta-analysis26 of calling research—examining 240 independent samples of more than 185,000 participants—supports Duffy and colleagues’ earlier observation that correlations across diverse measures of calling are quite high (generally .50 to .80). Furthermore, the positive links of scores on these various measures of calling with work-domain and life-domain outcomes are very similar in magnitude. Of course, there are some differences as well. For example, “internally-focused” callings (i.e., modern definitions) are more closely associated with hedonic (pleasure-focused) outcomes (e.g., job and domain satis- faction) than eudaimonic (meaning-focused) outcomes (e.g., meaningfulness at work). In contrast, “externally-focused” callings (i.e., neoclassical definitions) are more closely linked to eudaimonic than hedonic outcomes. These results suggest that within the research literature, calling may best be understood as a broad construct with two correlated yet distinct emphases, one internally-focused and one externally-focused. The broader point is that despite the diverse definitions and many measures of calling, the overlap is substantial.
Prevalence and cross-cultural generalizability of calling
The development of measurement scales offers researchers a way to estimate calling’s prevalence. Within a population, what proportion of people think of their work as a calling? Initial research on this question mostly used convenience samples (e.g., students, Internet samples) and suggested that somewhere between one-third and one-half of participants viewed their work as a calling. In the only study so far to use a nationally representative sample with direct population estimates, White and colleagues27 found that, among United States adults from all walks of life, 43% reported that the statement “I have a calling to a particular kind of work” (measuring “perceiving a calling”) was mostly or totally true of them. To the statement “I am trying to figure out my calling in my career” (i.e., seeking a calling), 23% responded that this was mostly or totally true. Finally, in response to the statement “I am living out my calling in my job right now” (i.e., living a calling), 29% indicated that this was mostly or totally true. Remarkably, White and colleagues found no differences in the prevalence of any of the three statements—designed to measure perceiving, seeking, or living a calling—across sex, racial groups, household income, educational attainment, political affiliation, or religious affiliation. It is important to note that these data were collected prior to the highly disruptive COVID-19 pandemic. That caveat aside, these results suggest that at least within the United States, a sense of calling within one’s work is not rare—nor is it limited to particular (privileged) demographic groups.
Although research on calling emerged mainly within North America and Western Europe, interest in the construct has become a global phenomenon, with scholars and samples from more than 30 countries across six continents represented in the literature. Some cross-cultural differences in results are evident, but the similarities are striking. For example, a qualitative study of how university students in China understand calling found a stronger emphasis on a sense of duty and a weaker emphasis on religion and spirituality than is the case with United States samples. Nevertheless, the primary themes that emerged for Chinese students were labelled by the researchers as guiding force, meaning and purpose, altruism, and an active tendency, demonstrating substantial overlap with definitions of calling articulated by Western scholars and research participants.28 Similarly, researchers in China aimed to develop an indigenous measure of calling, and found that the best-fitting measurement model for their Chinese Calling Scale consisted of three dimensions: guiding force, meaning and purpose, and altruism.29 These dimensions are essentially equivalent to those assessed by the Calling and Vocation Questionnaire, a frequently-used instrument that was developed using university students in the United States.30
More recently, an international team of scholars investigated the cross-cultural generalizability of calling as measured using the expansive Unified Multidimensional Calling Scale with university students across six nations: India, Turkey, China, Italy, the United States, and the Netherlands.31 Results revealed that calling’s multidimensional structure, and the relative importance of calling’s different dimensions, were highly consistent across nations. Curiously, the mean score for experiencing work as a calling (i.e., the “level of calling” in each country) was found to be higher in non-Western countries than in their Western counterparts. Small cross-cultural differences were found in this study as well. Italian and Dutch participants scored lower on the transcendent summons and pervasiveness facets of calling than did participants in other countries, for example, whereas Chinese participants scored highest. Indian participants scored particularly high on the purpose and identity subscales. Still, the authors concluded that “these results are compatible with the notion that calling is a universal human experience, and that culture differently influences the levels of calling’s dimensions but not their importance in defining the construct.” Such a statement must clearly be considered tentative, but it reflects an understanding of people as fundamentally meaning-seeking.
Antecedents, correlates, and consequences of calling
The first wave of empirical research on calling was dominated by cross-sectional studies that sought to establish links between calling and a wide range of variables related to career and general well-being. Most of these studies investigated calling as a unidimensional construct by focusing on total scores, rather than scores on calling’s proposed dimensions—a practice that continues in most research on calling today. There are shortcomings of this approach. As noted earlier, causal inferences cannot be made from cross-sectional studies. Furthermore, the focus on total scores provides a coarse look at calling, ignoring the nuance that could be achieved by examining calling’s facets or dimensions (e.g., transcendent summons, purposeful work, prosocial orientation). Despite these limitations, these studies reveal a pattern in which calling is usually (although not universally) linked to wide-ranging benefits in work and in life.32
With samples of university students, for example, a sense of calling is associated with academic satisfaction, confidence, comfort with one’s career choice, intrinsic work motivation, the experience of work as meaningful, and the ability to adapt in the face of career challenges. With samples of working adults, a sense of calling is consistently positively associated with job satisfaction and commitment to one’s organization and occupation. Working adults with a sense of calling also report lower burnout and are less likely to think about looking for another job. There is far less research on actual behavior than on self-reported attitudes, but initial evidence suggests that a sense of calling is weakly but positively related to job performance, effort, number of hours worked, and willingness to make sacrifices for one’s work, and negatively related to absenteeism.
In their meta-analysis, Dobrow and colleagues33 combined results across many studies using “variable categories,” five of which examined work-related outcomes. They found strong, positive relationships between calling and the perceived meaningfulness of work (r=.61 across 25 studies), work engagement and involvement (r=.49 across 31 studies), job and domain satisfaction (r=.46 across 64 studies), and career self-efficacy and decision-making (r=.38 across 34 studies). All these effect sizes are statistically significant and meaningful in practice. Only calling’s relationship with length of time working in a job or organization was small (.04 across 24 studies). On the whole, these results suggest that students with a calling tend to feel comfortable and confident in their career development and feel ready to cope with challenges when they emerge. Similarly, adults who endorse having a calling tend to experience work-related benefits and also are usually considered excellent employees by their organizations. Again, though, causal directions cannot be inferred from cross-sectional research; a sense of calling may cause and/or be caused by these variables, all of which may also be influenced by unmeasured third variables.
Perceiving work as a calling is associated not only with career and work criterion variables, but general psychological well-being as well. Several studies reveal a moderate-to-strong positive relationship between perceiving a call- ing and a sense of meaning in life. A sense of calling is also linked to greater enthusiasm and zest, greater self-rated health and health satisfaction, greater psychological adjustment and affective wellbeing, and lower emotional exhaustion. Dobrow and colleagues’ meta-analysis examined three variable categories that addressed general well-being outcomes. They found positive, moderate- in-magnitude relationships between calling and psychological wellbeing (r=.45 across 34 studies) and subjective wellbeing (r=.28 across 50 studies) and a small- to-moderate negative association between calling and psychological strain (r=-.23 across 25 studies). This pattern suggests a spillover effect in which pursuing a calling at work can enhance one’s overall experience of wellbeing in life. The reverse may also be true, although one study found that people who are seeking meaning in life are more likely to experience it when they approach their work as a calling.34
In recent years, researchers have increasingly recognized the shortcomings of cross-sectional studies and turned to longitudinal designs to gain insight on the causal directions between calling and various criterion variables. Most often, calling is positioned as a predictor, and evidence does suggest that a sense of calling predicts work-related wellbeing over time.35 However, studies that have assessed participants at more than two points in time have found the causal arrows to point in both directions. One study of university students, for example, revealed that calling predicted an increase in career planning and self-efficacy for managing job-related tasks; in turn, these behaviors predicted a subsequent increase in participants’ sense of calling.36
Other studies suggest that calling functions at least as well as an outcome rather than a predictor. Zhang and colleagues investigated the relationship between calling and authenticity37 and found that authentic living led to increases in a sense of calling, but not the reverse; an increase in a sense of calling predicted a decrease in authentic living. This was likely because participants were students who were not yet working in their field of interest; as their sense of calling grew, so did their awareness that they were not currently living that calling.38 Another study found a reciprocal relationship between living a calling and work meaningfulness, with meaningfulness functioning better as a predictor than outcome.39 Similarly, a study of university students over three time points suggested that those who are engaged in their learning, have a clearer career direction, and experience a great deal of social support were more likely to develop a sense of calling over time. Evidence for this “a posteriori hypothesis” (that calling emerges from positive career development experiences and attitudes) was stronger than for the reverse, “a priori hypothesis” (that calling leads to positive career development outcomes).40
The small proportion of studies on calling that adopt a qualitative approach (11%) usually target participants who perceive a calling, or who believe they are living one out. These studies have examined a wide range of diverse professions and job statuses, from animal care workers to zookeepers, students to career changers, and working mothers to retirees. Most use in-depth interviews and yield results that generally align with the patterns found in quantitative studies, with participants sharing rich detail about effortful dedication and positive work and well-being outcomes. In some cases, results from qualitative studies have informed the development of measurement instruments and theories.41 In other cases, results have sparked new research directions.
An example is the emerging research on the so-called “dark side” of calling, informed initially by interviews with working adults experiencing regret and consternation because of their “unanswered callings”42 and with zookeepers exploited by their employers because of their passionate commitment to their work.43 Subsequent research has explored other aspects of calling’s dark side, including job idolization, burnout, and workaholism.44 This topic area has sparked a narrative in which a calling can function as a double-edged sword. Clearly, sometimes a sense of calling can have deleterious effects, perhaps in part due to a rationalized, unhealthy overinvestment in the work. (For work that is “spirituality sanctioned” in particular, people may drift into cycles in which they sacrifice relationships, sleep, and balanced living to pursue their work goals.) Yet the overwhelming weight of the evidence reveals that calling is linked to positive outcomes, and furthermore often serves as a buffer between difficult work circumstances and negative outcomes.45 Subsequent research on calling’s dark side, therefore, should strive to identify the specific conditions in which something ordinarily so positive can instead create vulnerabilities.
Mechanisms and theories
Typically, in the social sciences, theories are articulated and then tested using programs of research. Empirical research on calling has followed the opposite path—one in which research rapidly accumulated without an overarching theory to guide it. Only recently have scholars proposed formal theories, drawing from consistent patterns in the research and framing calling as a predictor of work outcomes, with unique mechanisms that explain how these linkages occur.
In 2018, Duffy and colleagues proposed Work as a Calling Theory,46 which postulates that perceiving a calling is linked to positive (and sometimes negative) outcomes via one central mediator: living a calling. As noted earlier, roughly half of United States adults resonate with the idea that their work is a calling, but fewer than that report that they are currently living a calling. This is in part because not everyone who perceives a calling can access educational and work opportunities through which they can fully pursue it.47 Research has repeatedly demonstrated that a key reason why many people who perceive a calling experience positive outcomes is because some (but not all) are able to take active steps toward living it out.48 As Figure 1 indicates, the rest of the theory builds around this core mediating relationship between perceiving a calling, living a calling, and outcomes.49 The theory also proposes that although living a calling predicts positive outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction and job performance), there are circumstances in which negative outcomes can result instead. These negative outcomes—exploitation, workaholism, and burnout—in turn predict lower job satisfaction and performance. The theory proposes that this link be- tween living a calling and negative outcomes is influenced by personality factors (e.g., perfectionism, high need for achievement, low self-esteem) and the psychological climate in the workplace. The theory summarizes existing research but also requires subsequent empirical testing; evidence thus far reveals strong support for most of the theory’s propositions.50
Dobrow and colleagues summarized their meta-analytic findings with a novel theory linking perceptions of calling to aspects of “the good life,” which they defined in terms of consistent subjective and psychological well-being (i.e., happiness and meaning).51 The theory builds on the authors’ observations that three mechanisms may explain how a sense of calling is linked to “good life” outcomes. First, callings enhance intrinsic motivation in that work is pursued as an end in itself and is marked by experiences of satisfaction and enjoyment. Second, a sense of calling may help people establish and reinforce a sense of identity by fostering a sense of purpose and belonging. Third, callings may be viewed as a moral duty that can help people channel their talents toward work they find meaningful. The theory differentiates internally-focused callings (characterized by passion, enjoyment, and personal meaning) and externally-focused callings (characterized by duty, prosocial obligation, and destiny; see Figure 2).
The theory proposes that these two types of callings overlap, but that internally-focused callings lead to job satisfaction through the mechanism of self-realization (i.e., fulfillment of self-oriented needs such as autonomy, competence, uniqueness, and authenticity). In turn, job satisfaction “spills over” and influences subjective wellbeing (i.e., happiness). In contrast but following a similar pattern, externally-focused callings lead to the experience of meaningfulness at work via unification (i.e., fulfillment of other-oriented needs such as a sense of belonging to one’s occupation and society, relatedness to others, and a sense that one’s work is worthy, moral, or virtuous). In turn, work meaningfulness influences psychological well-being (i.e., meaning in life as a whole).
Savvy readers will note that both Work as a Calling Theory and Dobro and colleagues’ “good life” theory focus on how a sense of calling is linked to outcomes, but neither have much to say about how a sense of calling develops in the first place. From a purely psychological perspective, a sense of calling is undoubtedly multiply determined and can follow diverse developmental trajectories.52 Exploration can evoke a sense of calling,53 for example. Epiphanies can occur.54 Social influence plays a role.55 Most scholars assume the process of discerning a calling usually unfolds gradually yet is likely amenable to intervention. Recognizing this broader context, Reed and colleagues56 proposed a cognitive model to explain how callings may emerge, building on the assumption that emotions, behaviors, and feelings are influenced by how events are perceived and processed. This theory “prioritizes the very simple view that in order to perceive a calling, individuals must generate and organize an understanding of who they are in the workplace, what it is they would like to become in the workplace, and the specific reason for which they would like to create that future self in the workplace.”57The approach to enacting this strategy involves four key cognitive processes, each of them tied to work identity: (1) effort calculation; (2) reflection; (3) appraisal of others’ perspectives; and (4) fusion, or the belief that one’s identity is externalized and can be amplified through one’s career. An advantage of the theory its direct application to intervention strategies, and initial research has demonstrated that the four factors each predict participants’ perception of calling.58
Integrating Scientific and Christian Perspectives
In a relatively short period of time—barely more than two decades—psycho- logical research has revealed a great deal about the role of calling in people’s career development and work experience. To summarize, we now understand that within the work role:
- A sense of calling is surprisingly prevalent. At least within the United States, a sense of calling is not rare, nor is it limited to certain demographic groups.
- A sense of calling is defined similarly, and appears to function similarly, across diverse national contexts. Cross-cultural differences identified so far are small and subtle.
- A sense of calling is consistently linked with positive career development outcomes. People who experience a sense of calling (compared to people who do not) say they are more confident they can make good decisions about their careers, more committed to their jobs and organizations, more motivated and engaged, more satisfied with their education and their jobs, and experience a stronger sense of meaning at work.
- A sense of calling is consistently linked with general well-being. Working adults who perceive a calling are happier, more satisfied with life, cope better with challenges, and express a stronger sense of meaning and purpose in their lives compared to those who do not experience a sense of calling.
- It is not only about having it; it’s about living it. People who approach work as a calling are happiest, most committed, and experience the most benefit when working in a role that enables them to live out the callings they perceive. However, some people have limited access to such opportunities, and may feel frustrated, discouraged, unhappy, and even depressed as a result.
- Although not typical, a sense of calling can have drawbacks. Some people make tough sacrifices to pursue their callings. Many trade some types of satisfaction (e.g., wealth, comfort) for others (e.g., meaning, sense of contribution). In some circumstances, pursuing a calling can make people vulnerable to workaholism, burnout, poor work-family balance, and exploitation by unscrupulous employers.
- A sense of calling is not a “thing” to be discovered once and for all; rather, discerning and living a calling is an ongoing process. Also, a sense of calling is as likely to emerge from positive work experiences as it is to predict them.
Although this knowledge offers benefit to Christians, there are fair critiques that Christians can level against this area of research as well. First, the manner in which calling is often defined only loosely corresponds to a Christian understanding of the concept. Some “modern” conceptualizations, in particular, are unapologetically self-focused and secular. Neoclassical definitions align more closely with a Christian understanding of calling because they draw from classical definitions that explicitly name God as the ultimate source (even if not always the proximate one). The fact that research suggests these different ways of conceptualizing calling yield very similar results mitigates this concern somewhat. It is perhaps consistent with the fact that Christians often are encouraged to discern callings by attending to their gifts, then focusing on how those gifts can address particular needs in their community and world—an inside-out approach. For many Christians, a calling often includes a mandate to glorify God and serve others. Few conceptualizations of calling in psychology include both of these objectives directly; some do so indirectly; others do not do so at all.
Second, as is often the case in psychology, the emphasis of this area of research is excessively individualistic. The modern view of calling in particular privileges one’s personal passions almost in the absence of communal responsibility. Regardless of how calling is conceptualized, empirical research on calling nearly always targets the wellbeing of the individual as the outcome of interest. Often this is an artifact of the methods commonly used in psychological research, relying as they so often do on self-report measures. Although more difficult, subsequent research on calling would do well to examine the impact that those workers who are driven by a sense of calling have on others—their co-workers, supervisors, customers, teams, organizations, and broader community. In theory, their impact would be positive and would promote group cohesion, optimism, collaboration, and wellbeing in others. As a starting point, research that uses self-report can broaden beyond satisfaction and personal meaning to include one’s sense of contribution and connectedness to others. Also in theory, an other-oriented approach to calling should turn one’s focus away from the self and toward the wellbeing of others. Research adopting an other-oriented approach should be used when studying calling’s potential dark side as well—which thus far has been limited, again, to negative impacts experienced by the individual (e.g., idolization, exploitation, workaholism, burnout). Some have observed that the concept of callings has at times been used to manipulate and even abuse others within the church.59 Clearly, a broader perspective is needed than has dominated the literature to date—one that goes beyond merely recognizing the interdependence of people and instead translates that principle more directly into research questions and methods.
Third, underlying assumptions aside, psychological research on calling tends to operate as if people have unconstrained choices within their careers. Granted, prevalence data suggest that a substantial proportion of even unemployed adults and those in the lowest income brackets endorse having a sense of calling,60 and other evidence suggests that hardship can actually foster a sense of calling.61 Still, no research of which I am aware has examined a sense of calling among the nearly 700 million workers in the developing world who must provide for their families with the equivalent of $2 per day or less.62 Recognizing this broader context, Christian scholars have called for a more inclusive theology of vocation, one that attends to those unemployed, underemployed, or employed in low-level jobs to which most people do not likely aspire.63 Research psychologists, too, have raised these concerns, not only about calling research but about vocational psychology writ large. They point out that the notion of using one’s interests and passions to weigh limitless alternatives before choosing one and embarking on a career in that domain is simply not what most people experience.64 The emerging Psychology of Working Theory recognizes this, proposing that before work can be fulfilling, it must be “decent” (i.e., an employment situation with safe working conditions, hours that allow for adequate rest, organizational values that complement family and social values, adequate compensation, and access to health care).65 And scholars have proposed mech- anisms for linking decent work and meaningful work via need satisfaction.66 These considerations have not yet had much influence on calling research, but the potential and need is there.
Finally, given its reliance on methodological naturalism, a psychological account of how people discern and live their callings is limited to observable psychological factors and influences. This focus on “mundane” mediators of calling actually aligns well with what many theologians point out is God’s usual tendency of communicating his callings indirectly, through factors such as gifts, opportunities, needs, and social influence.67 Even so, a comprehensive understanding of God’s calling on people’s lives and decisions must account for spiritual factors, such as the work of the Holy Spirit. Of course, explaining a phenomenon on a psychological level does not “explain away” other levels that appeal to other ways of knowing. But for Christian scholars, this obviously requires widening the aperture beyond what psychological science is equipped to address, pointing to the need to adopt a more comprehensive “multilevel interdisciplinary paradigm.”68
Calling and Career Development Practices
Only a few published studies have tested interventions intended to foster a sense of calling within participants’ career decision-making and work experiences. For example, randomized controlled trials have examined a two-session workshop69 and a five-session structured group intervention designed for Christian university students.70 Both studies found that the “calling-infused” intervention increased positive outcomes compared to a control group, but provided little discernable advantage compared to a standard career development intervention. Another experiment found that working adults who used their highest character strengths more frequently at work over four weeks reported an increased sense of calling and life satisfaction.71 Additional research on interventions that specifically target calling is sorely needed.
For students and others seeking to discern a calling within the world of work, it bears emphasizing that Christians are called first into a relationship with Christ and a life of discipleship. Secondary or specific callings within the world of work are indeed secondary. Yet questions of career choice remain highly salient and often anxiety-provoking for students and for adults at transition points in life, and there is a lengthy history within the Christian tradition of framing such questions in terms of discerning a calling.72 For questions of discernment, there is a strong convergence between biblical principles pertaining to the role of spiritual gifts in equipping Christians for unique places of service within the church, and the results of vocational psychology research. (The latter focuses on the role of individual differences in interests, values, personality, and abilities—what Christians sometimes call “natural gifts”—in predicting satisfaction and success within particular clusters of career paths.) For those with questions about career choice, gaining a clearer understanding of these natural gifts and examining how they intersect with both opportunities and needs in the world, remains a prudent course of action—even while recognizing that many students and job seekers face serious constraints in their choices. Furthermore, several valid tools and resources (along with many less- valid ones) are available to help discerners make informed choices, ideally with mentoring and within the context of a supportive community. Engaging this process actively and prayerfully, recognizing that there are usually multiple “right answers” rather than only one, creates the conditions in which clarity and confidence usually begin to emerge.73
It is crucial to recognize, though, that within a career path, callings are often built more than they are discovered.74 Social psychologist Crystal Park points out that one way of eliciting greater meaning from work is to forge connections between people’s work experiences and their “global meaning framework,” a psychological term arguably synonymous with “worldview.”75 For Christians, doubling down on our communal calling offers guidance on how to forge such connections by placing our story within God’s larger story of creation, fall, re- demption, and renewal. For any career path, the following questions are worth reflection:
1.What aspects of this area of work are rooted in God’s creational design, and therefore need to be preserved, developed, and cultivated?
2.In what ways has this area of work been impacted by the fall, so that now it reflects a distortion of what God intended?
3.What would it look like for this area of work to be fully redeemed (that is, renewed), and what specific things can I do to work toward that?76
Such questions are much easier to ask than answer, but articulating working answers to them with the help of one’s community of faith helps forge a close connection between the meanings a person can derive from work and their broader Christian worldview, informed by the grand narrative of Scripture. Regularly revisiting these questions fosters constant reflection of how we are stewarding our gifts in ways that contribute to shalom. It matters less that we have all the answers, and more that we embrace and wrestle with these kinds of questions—knowing that living our callings require us to do so over and over, and to engage our work accordingly.
Cite this article
- Kathleen A. Cahalan and Douglas J. Schuurman, Calling in Today’s World: Voices from Eight Faith Perspectives (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016).
- William Placher, ed., Callings: Twenty Centuries of Christian Wisdom on Vocation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005).
- Lee Hardy, The Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice, and the Design of Human Work (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 6–25.
- Lindsey Short, “A Christian Framework for Expertise and Biases in Face Processing: Reconciling Modern Research in Face Perception within a Creation, Fall, Redemption Narrative,” Christian Scholar’s Review 52, no. 1 (2022): 25–42.
- Bryan Dik, “Why Faith@work Needs Vocational Psychology: Five Key Findings,” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 39, no. 2 (2020): 141–49.
- J. Dik and R. D. Duffy, “Calling and Vocation at Work: Definitions and Prospects for Research and Practice,” The Counseling Psychologist 37, no. 3 (2009): 424–50, https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000008316430. 428–429. Parenthetical citations are retained in this quote; references are provided in the original article.
- Paul Moes and Donald J. Tellinghuisen, Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith: An Introductory Guide, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2023).
- For more on this point, see David S. Cunningham, “‘Who’s There?’: The Dramatic Role of the ‘Caller’ in Vocational Discernment,” in At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education, ed. David S. Cunningham (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016), 143–64.
- Via common grace, even those who do not recognize God as the author and sustainer of their corner of creation can nevertheless express their gifts in ways that make it better, and experience a measure of joy as a result. Richard J. Mouw, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002).
- Shoshana R. Dobrow et al., “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension,” Administrative Science Quarterly 68, 2 (June 2023): in press.
- This is evident in many works that present a Christian perspective on psychology, e.g., Eric L. Johnson, ed., Psychology and Christianity: Five Views, 2nd edition (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010).
- Jeffery A. Thompson and J. Stuart Bunderson, “Research on Work as a Calling . . . and How to Make It Matter,” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2019, 23.
- Amy Wrzesniewski et al., “Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work,” Journal of Research in Personality 31, no. 1 (1997): 21–33, https://doi.org/10.1006/ jrpe.1997.2162; here, 21.The study operationalized the work orientation framework first proposed by the sociologists Bellah and colleagues. Robert Neelly Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985).
- J. Stuart Bunderson and Jeffery A. Thompson, “The Call of the Wild: Zookeepers, Callings, and the Double-Edged Sword of Deeply Meaningful Work,” Administrative Science Quarterly 54, no. 1 (2009): 32–57.
- Dik and Duffy, “Calling and Vocation at Work.”
- Shoshana R. Dobrow and Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, “Calling: The Develop- ment of a Scale Measure,” Personnel Psychology 64, 4 (2011): 1001–49, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01234.x.
- R. Elangovan, Craig C. Pinder, and Murdith McLean, “Callings and Organizational Behavior,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 76, no. 3 (2010): 428–40, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2009.10.009; here, 430.
- Michelangelo Vianello et al., “Validity and Measurement Invariance of the Unified Multidimensional Calling Scale (UMCS): A Three-Wave Survey Study,” PLOS ONE 13, no. 12 (2018): e0209348, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209348.
- Thompson and Bunderson, “Research on Work as a Calling . . . and How to Make It Matter.”
- Adelyn B. Shimizu, Bryan J. Dik, and Bradley T. Conner, “Conceptualizing Calling: Cluster and Taxometric Analyses,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 114 (2019): 7–18, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2018.07.006.
- A total of 14 scales have been used in more than one study, but another 20 scales and single-item measures were used once. Dobrow et al., “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension.”
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “Assessing Work as a Calling: An Evaluation of Instruments and Practice Recommendations,” Journal of Career Assessment 23, no. 3 (2015): 351–66, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072714547163.
- B. J. Dik et al., “Development and Validation of the Calling and Vocation Questionnaire (CVQ) and Brief Calling Scale (BCS),” Journal of Career Assessment 20, no. 3 (August 1, 2012): 242–63, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072711434410.
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “Calling among the Unemployed: Examining Prevalence and Links to Coping with Job Loss,” The Journal of Positive Psychology 10, no. 4 (2015): 332–45, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2014.967798.
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “Perceiving a Calling, Living a Calling, and Job Satisfaction: Testing a Moderated, Multiple Mediator Model,” Journal of Counseling Psychology 59, no. 1 (2012): 50–59, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026129.
- Dobrow et al., “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension.”
- Micah J. White et al., “Prevalence and Demographic Differences in Work as a Calling in the United States: Results From a Nationally Representative Sample,” Journal of Career Assessment 29, no. 4 (2021): 624–43, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072721995698.
- Chunyu Zhang et , “Work as a Calling in China: A Qualitative Study of Chinese College Students,” Journal of Career Assessment 23, no. 2 (2015): 236–49, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072714535029.
- Chunyu Zhang et al., “Assessing Calling in Chinese College Students: Development of a Measure and Its Relation to Hope,” Journal of Career Assessment 23, 4 (2015): 582–96, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072715595804.
- Dik et al., “Development and Validation of the Calling and Vocation Questionnaire (CVQ) and Brief Calling Scale (BCS).”
- Michelangelo Vianello et al., “Is Calling Conceptualized Equivalently across Cultures? A Comparative Study across Six Countries,” Open Science Framework (September 20, 2022): https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/ayjuk.
- The sections that follow summarize results from dozens of individual studies, most of which are also included in the following more comprehensive reviews: Bryan J. Dik, Michael F. Steger, and Kelsey L. Autin, “Emerging Perspectives: Calling, Meaning, and Volition,” in Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work, ed. Steven D. Brown and Robert W. Lent, 3rd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2020), 237–70; Dobrow et al., “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension”; Thompson and Bunderson, “Research on Work as a Calling . . . and How to Make It Matter.” For an expanded version of this paper that includes citations for individual studies, contact the author.
- Dobrow et al., “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension.”
- Michael F. Steger and Bryan J. Dik, “If One Is Looking for Meaning in Life, Does It Help to Find Meaning in Work?,” Applied Psychology–Health and Well Being 1, no. 3 (2009): 303–20, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2009.01018.x.
- e.g., Praskova, Hood, and Creed, “Testing a Calling Model of Psychological Career Success in Australian Young Adults.”
- Hirschi, Andreas, and Anne Herrmann, “Calling and Career Preparation: Investigating Developmental Patterns and Temporal Precedence,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 83, no. 1 (2013): 51–60.
- Recognizing, of course, that the language of “authenticity” has its drawbacks; see Tom Perrin’s essay in this issue.
- Chunyu Zhang et al., “Reciprocal Relation between Authenticity and Calling among Chinese University Students: A Latent Change Score Approach,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 107 (2018): 222–32, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2018.05.005.
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “Living a Calling and Work Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Counseling Psychology 61, no. 4 (2014): 605–15, https://doi.org/10.1037/ cou0000042.
- Anna Dalla Rosa, Michelangelo Vianello, and Pasquale Anselmi, “Longitudinal Predictors of the Development of a Calling: New Evidence for the a Posteriori Hypothesis,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 114 (2019): 44–56, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2019.02.007.
- e.g., Bunderson and Thompson, “The Call of the Wild: Zookeepers, Callings, and the Double-Edged Sword of Deeply Meaningful Work.”
- Justin M. Berg, Adam M. Grant, and Victoria Johnson, “When Callings Are Calling: Crafting Work and Leisure in Pursuit of Unanswered Occupational Callings,” Organization Science 21, no. 5 (2010): 973–94, https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1090.0497.
- Bunderson and Thompson, “The Call of the Wild.”
- K. Arianna Molloy et al., “Work Calling and Humility: Framing for Job Idolization, Workaholism, and Exploitation,” Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion 16, no. 5 (2019): 428–44, https://doi.org/10.1080/14766086.2019.1657489.
- Ryan Duffy et al., “Does the Dark Side of a Calling Exist? Examining Potential Negative Effects,” The Journal of Positive Psychology 11, no. 6 (2016): 634–46, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2015.1137626
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “Work as a Calling: A Theoretical Model,” Journal of Counseling Psychology 65, no. 4 (July 2018): 423–39, https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000276.
- On this point, see especially Patrick B. Reyes, The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 2021).
- White et al., “Prevalence and Demographic Differences in Work as a Calling in the United States.”
- Duffy et al., “Work as a Calling.”
- Ryan Duffy et al. “Work as a Calling Theory,” in Career Psychology, ed. W. Bruce Walsh, et al. (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2023).
- Dobrow et , “Calling and the Good Life: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Extension.”
- Michelangelo Vianello et , “The Developmental Trajectories of Calling: Predictors and Outcomes,” Journal of Career Assessment 28, no. 1 (2020): 128–46, https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072719831276.
- Matt Bloom, Amy E. Colbert, and Jordan D. Nielsen, “Stories of Calling: How Called Professionals Construct Narrative Identities,” Administrative Science Quarterly 66, no. 2 (2021): 298–338, https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839220949502.
- Erik Dane, “Suddenly Everything Became Clear: How People Make Sense of Epiphanies Surrounding Their Work and Careers,” Academy of Management Discoveries 6, no. 1 (2020): 39–60, https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2018.0033.
- Bunderson and Thompson, “The Call of the Wild”; Kira Schabram and Sally Maitlis, “Negotiating the Challenges of a Calling: Emotion and Enacted Sensemaking in Animal Shelter Work,” Academy of Management Journal 60, no. 2 (2017): 584–609, https:// doi.org/10.5465/amj.2013.0665.
- Americus Reed II, Samuel Jones, and Bryan J. Dik, “Work Identity and Future Research on Work as a Calling,” Current Directions in Psychological Science 31, no. 5 (2022): 457–63, https://doi.org/10.1177/09637214221112118.
- Reed, Jones, and Dik, “Work Identity and Future Research on Work as a Calling,” 458.
- Americus Reed II and Samuel Jones, “Work Identity Theory (WIT): Processes and Measurement” (manuscript in preparation, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania).
- William W. Klein and Daniel J. Steiner, What Is My Calling?: A Biblical and Theological Exploration of Christian Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2022), 8–9.
- White et al., “Prevalence and Demographic Differences in Work as a Calling in the United States.”
- Fida Afiouni and Charlotte M. Karam, “The Formative Role of Contextual Hardships in Women’s Career Calling,” Journal of Vocational Behavior, Calling and careers: New insights and future directions, 114 (October 1, 2019): 69–87, https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.jvb.2019.02.008.
- Tanida Arayavechkit et , “March 2021 PovcalNet Update,” n.d., World Bank Group.
- Christine Jeske, “Are We Underthinking Underemployment?: Toward a More Inclusive Theology of Vocation,” Christian Scholar’s Review 49, no. 3 (2020): 231–48; see also Reyes, The Purpose Gap.
- David L. Blustein, Ellen Hawley McWhirter, and Justin C. Perry, “An Emancipatory Communitarian Approach to Vocational Development Theory, Research, and Practice,” The Counseling Psychologist 33, no. 2 (2005): 141–79, https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000004272268.
- Ryan D. Duffy et al., “The Psychology of Working Theory,” Journal of Counseling Psychology 63, no. 2 (2016): 127–48, https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000140.
- David L. Blustein, Evgenia I. Lysova, and Ryan D. Duffy, “Understanding Decent Work and Meaningful Work,” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 10, no. 1 (January 23, 2023): 289–314, https://doi.org/10.1146/ annurev-orgpsych-031921-024847.
- e.g., Douglas J. Schuurman, Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 37–39.
- Crystal L. Park and Raymond F. Paloutzian, “One Step Toward Integration and an Expansive Future,” in Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, ed. R. Paloutzian and C. Park (New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2005), 550–64.
- Bryan J. Dik and Michael F. Steger, “Randomized Trial of a Calling-Infused Career Workshop Incorporating Counselor Self-Disclosure,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 73, no. 2 (October 2008): 203–11, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2008.04.001.
- Bryan J. Dik et al., “A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Religiously-Tailored Career Intervention with Christian Clients,” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 34 (2015): 340–53.
- Claudia Harzer and Willibald Ruch, “Your Strengths Are Calling: Preliminary Results of a Web-Based Strengths Intervention to Increase Calling,” Journal of Happiness Studies 17, no. 6 (2016): 2237–56, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-015-9692-y.
- Hardy, The Fabric of This World.
- For a through treatment of this process, see Bryan J. Dik, Redeeming Work: A Guide to Discovering God’s Calling for Your Career, 1st edition (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2020), especially chapters 3–6.
- This is precisely why Ryan Duffy and I gave our book its title: Bryan J. Dik and Ryan D. Duffy, Make Your Job a Calling: How the Psychology of Vocation Can Change Your Life at Work (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2012).
- Crystal L. Park, “Religious and Spiritual Aspects of Meaning in the Context of Work Life,” in Psychology of Religion and Workplace Spirituality, ed. Peter C. Hill and Bryan J. Dik (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2012), 25–42.
- Dik, Redeeming Work, 96–97.