Most of us working as advocates apply the word “profession” to our work. Those who have been advocates for a longer period of time might tell you it has turned into a career.
I often hear from new advocates, or those who wannabe advocates that they feel that this profession of advocacy (or what might evolve for them to a career of advocacy) is also a calling. So let’s look at that word “calling” for a minute.
Merriam Webster tells us that a calling is:
a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
So now let’s look at “divine influence” – because recognizing divine influence, then acting on it, becomes a huge turning point in one’s life.
If you know my story of how and why my career and profession evolved to advocacy and guidance for advocacy, then you know this is one of my core beliefs; that I most definitely feel called to the work I do. I am a highly spiritual person. I truly believe that divine influence guided me on this path. In fact, I go so far as to say that my misdiagnosis, the impetus for my work, was the reason I was put on this earth. I can scarcely type those words without getting choked up. It’s very emotional for me.
Advocacy is a profession and a career that can result from a calling. I firmly believe that. If we are paying attention, we hear that call loudly and clearly – and we act.
I bring this up today because I know many of you feel the same way. In fact, during the last few weeks I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people who have mentioned to me, in email or during a phone call, that they, too, have been called to advocacy. That somehow they feel that divine tug. That their current work doesn’t call them in the same way, and they feel as if advocacy either already does – or can and will. And now they are ready to respond to that influence in their own lives.
To which I say, “Halleluyah!” And welcome to the fold. 🙂
However! (And this is a very important however!) Just because we are called to it doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay attention to the details. You might be called to cross the street, but if you don’t look both ways, you can get hit by an oncoming vehicle….
Sadly, I also know that many of those people who, in the past, have shared their callings with me, thought that was all they needed. If they were called, then they would be successful. Then they pursued their calling aimlessly, shunning guidance, until they had to give it up, wasting what could have been a very fulfilling career, and denying those people they might have helped the services they might have provided.
Not everyone is blessed enough to be called. Squandering that opportunity is sad and even irresponsible. “Called” means you need to put the effort into it. Called means you have to be smart about it. Called means it is now your responsibility to research and learn, to acquire skills, to understand the business of advocacy, and the healthcare system’s challenges, and the ethics and standards involved so you can do the best job possible for the clients you are called to. Called means you need to learn how to ask for signatures on a contract, to talk about the cost of your work, and to stand up to the healthcare system barriers that have gotten in the way of your clients’ good care.
Called means that God helps those who help themselves. A calling is not a field of dreams! Divine influence doesn’t protect us from bad choices.
So be called – yes. Listen and act – yes. But please be smart, too. Be sure you understand what needs to be done to make your calling successful so you can exercise your calling, and improve the lives of others, for a long time to come.
- Profession – or Calling? What Do You Consider Your Advocacy Work?
- The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook
- Master List: Health Advocate Resources
- Become a Patient Advocate or Navigator