Happiness in this life is the chief goal of all men.
And happiness means peace and comfort, security, and freedom from all poverty and want. It means, then, the possession of material goods, a substantial bank account or adequate returns from investments, and a settled and guaranteed employment or occupation or profession, which in turn gives security with a view to material possession and the freedom from want.
Moreover, in order to attain to the happiness he desires, it is said that man has certain obligations and duties to fulfill in his social relationships, family, community, and to all men. One’s own happiness is determined by and conditioned upon the happiness of all round about him. Hence, the happiness of others is essential to our happiness.
The question is, and always has been, how can we best attain to this highest of goals; complete happiness? And there are as many answers given to this question as there are philosophies in the world. And at one time or another, we have met with these philosophies, whether they be philosophies in their own right or have their source behind a well-used and aromatic pipe.
There is, however, a generally accepted way in which happiness, to some degree at least, can be reached. And that is: to work. With few exceptions, no one attains to any degree of happiness, of peace, security and comfort without working. Fact is, there is no other way. One must work, have an occupation, be employed, or enter some profession in order to acquire material possession, financial security, etc. And to say that this is the accepted way is to glamorize an ugly fact. For, to the natural man, to work is a necessary evil from which he is always seeking to escape. A little knowledge of human nature and our present day will suffice to substantiate this fact. The determination to achieve a shorter working day, higher and guaranteed wages is but an attempt to escape from that which man hates, and which always hinders his reaching complete happiness, namely, work. He hates work. But, and he cannot escape it, work he must. There is simply no other way in which he can attain to even a measure of happiness. And, in a measure at least, he accepts the fact that he must work. Moreover, as long as our happiness and that of mankind in general can be reached only through work, man will, by his very desire for happiness, be driven and forced to labor under the sun.
With this in mind, every man and woman will, sooner or later in life stand before the reality that he must work. And this means that in one way or another one will have to choose a vocation, whether in the field of employment, a definite occupation, or in some profession. He is driven to this. For, to be a beggar is to be an outcast of society. To resort to a life of crime “does not pay.” And to be a sluggard is, perhaps, the worst of all. Work is the only way out, therefore, be it that which we hate.
There is, however, a possibility to escape this evil of work to some degree by choosing a vocation which best suits our abilities, temperaments, likings, and that best affords us a degree of happiness, security, peace of mind, and comfort. And, in order that society as a whole may thus develop and progress in its striving for the greatest degree of happiness possible, our young men and women are advised and guided in making the wisest choice from among the many and various vocations. Books are written, clinics are set up, and specialists are hired with a view to guiding our youth in making its choice for a life’s calling. All possible efforts are being put forth in order to help the individual, as well as mankind in general in reaching out for an earthly heaven.
The purpose of this article is also to give advice and guidance to young men and women. The title of this article implies that we have something to say on the matter. However, let it be understood that we are not endeavoring to enter into the field of vocational guidance as it is related to any specific vocation. We will set forth some points that will be of help to those choosing a vocation, but these will only give the general direction in which our choice should be made. And, these points are those generally accepted by those who specialize in this field.
Nevertheless, we have something to say in the matter of choosing one’s life work. For we have in mind, not youth in general, nor even part of the group known as youth, but very particularly the youth of the church. Our concern is the Christian young man and young woman. What we have written above concerns man in general and by nature as he lies in the sphere of darkness and in the bondage of slavery. That man, as he is by nature is a slave. He is a slave to his own desires and lust. And, because he is a slave to his own desires and lust, he must work. He is in bondage and is forced to work. Though he may hate it ever so much, he must work nevertheless. And, by attempting an escape from the drudgery of work through choosing his own vocation, he finds that: also this attempt is and always will be a degree of slavery. He can never escape work, hence, he always remains a slave. And to guide and advise in the sphere of this slavery in which he must always work is futile. Never, regardless of guidance or advice, can he be anything but a slave to sin and death.
Not so, however, for Christian youth. For, first of all, the Christian young man and woman is free. That is, he no longer seeks his happiness in the material and earthly things. To him the happiness of the world is no happiness at all, but death, both temporally and eternally. It is vanity, and to seek it is to sin against God.
And to sin against God is but to add to our bondage and slavery and to end in eternal unhappiness. But the freedom of the child of God is in his being able to serve and love his God, and that with heart, mind, soul and strength. That is to the Christian youth both freedom and happiness. And to attain to that is the highest good, both in this life and in the life to come.
Then, too, the Christian youth is not forced against his will to work, and therefore, to choose a vocation. Fact is, he wants and desires to work, and of his own will chooses a vocation in life. He knows that God has given him gifts and talents, and with these, opportunities, with and in which he may work. And knowing too, that true and eternal happiness lies in using all the gifts, talents and opportunities to the glory of his God, and in His service, the Christian young man or woman chooses that vocation for which God has equipped and qualified him. Moreover, knowing that only in the sphere or vocation for which he is fit he can serve God to his utmost, he uses every possible means to find that specific vocation. He wants it, desires and wills to work in that vocation and in no other. By the same power of God’s grace that has set him free from bondage and slavery, he labors, even in the sweat of brow, freely and willingly, in the sure hope that it leads to a complete and heavenly rest, and eternal happiness.
Hence, material possession, financial security, freedom from want and poverty are not the things which first of all decide our choice of vocation. Though they are to be considered, it is only with a view to enabling one to further serve in the vocation chosen. Regardless of what kind of work, or vocation one finds himself equipped for, or what men in the world may think of him, or even how his fellow brethren in the church may classify him, he that finds a vocation in harmony with his qualifications given of God, and labors diligently and faithfully therein, his bread and sleep shall be sweet, and he shall be happy for he is at peace with his God. And that peace, which passeth all understanding, shall give him rest, heavenly rest even while he labors.
The choice of a vocation is therefore, important. Our young people may not haphazardly fall into any vocation that comes their way. In fact, it is possible that God has equipped us for something that we, by nature, do not like. In His infinite wisdom and ever governing providence our talents and gifts may qualify us for something which offhand, we would not consider. Though this is not often the case, the fact that God has equipped us, and given opportunities in which we may serve Him, means that we must intelligently inquire into these things and thus also ascertain His will concerning us. And only in this way can we have the assurance that we shall be able to live in our God-given freedom, and be happy. Lust, covetousness, and discontentment are no longer with us, and we learn to be content.
To be sure, and to our shame and discredit, there is room for improvement in these things among our present day youth. We find men who cannot find “it,” the position or vocation suitable to and harmonious with their qualifications. Others are known to take the first job that comes along, or leaving one vocation enter into another because it pays more. And though time may rectify some of these things, it is unhealthy and even sinful for the people of God. Much of the fault, however, may be placed at the door of parents and our school. Little, or no guidance and advice is given. Then too, our youth, in many cases at least, see a job as a necessary evil. Here, even the church may be guilty of failure to instruct the youth in its God-given freedom and calling. And our youth must bear the fruits of these mistakes and failures, and sins.
Youth, the springtime of strength and vigor, and even determination, but also of inexperience and therefore often of foolishness, is left with the idea in its mind that it must work or else. And only through its own mistakes can it find its place, God-given place, in the world.
In conclusion, then, parents and school should seek to give the necessary guidance in helping the young man or woman in choosing his or her specific calling and vocation. This does not mean that our youth must take a calling which the parents deem best. The youth must choose, and is free to choose. And having brought up the youth in the knowledge of his true freedom, a little wisdom added will go a long way.
And you, young men and women, Christian youth, seek to choose that vocation which harmonizes with you. It means that you will choose. It means that you will know yourself, physically, mentally and above all spiritually. It further means, that you will seek a knowledge of the vocational world, employments, occupations, professions. It means that you will, in harmony with your freedom, your spiritual life, your abilities and capabilities, put aside all and every vocation that will not allow you to exercise and enjoy your freedom to serve Him in love, with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.
And we add, seek competent advice and guidance, for, as one authority on the subject stated it: not only is the variety of present day occupations bewildering, but the occupational changes themselves are sufficient to render intelligent decision impossible without help.