ERROL CASTENS: We sometimes find static before our calling

“Blessed is he who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessedness.”

My MasterCard commercial version of this would be thus:

-“Eight years of college, $$$$

-“A dozen or so career choices at which I really stank, $$$$

-“Finding – at age 39 – what I really want to do when I grow up, priceless.”

Your humble scribe started out, farm boy that he was, wanting to follow his father's footsteps in scratching a living from the soil. Next came the ambition to be a policeman, like Uncle Ernest.

In adolescence I aspired to be a physician, until high school science classes convinced me labs weren't so much fun after all. Then it was back to a desire to farm, which prompted a year-long college major in agricultural economics, during which I decided I didn't like college and would never have enough capital to be the subject of a feature in “Progressive Farmer.”

After that freshman year came a stint in the firewood business. It was hard, dirty work, and it only paid seasonally, but I hoped to work toward a more automated, less labor-intensive process. Unfortunately, before I could graduate to better technology I suffered a serious woods accident.

Back to school, first in accountancy and then in industrial education. Bad choices, both of them, but I graduated with a teaching degree which, along with four dollars, will buy a cup of something-or-other at Starbucks.

After college, it was chimney sweeping -a “sure-fire, no-way-to-lose” business perfect for the young, under-capitalized entrepreneur. Except I hated selling.

So after a few highly unsuccessful years in chimney cleaning, I went into sales. (Admittedly it was combined with advertising copywriting – something I apparently did fairly well – but the sales were supposed to be the cash cow, and I still stank at getting people to sign on the bottom line.)

By the time I married, I still had no solid idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up, but a clerical job at Ole Miss allowed me to scratch a little itch by taking journalism classes, which proved to be a “Eureka!” experience.

A few years later, and I was writing for the mighty Daily Journal – and enjoying it immensely. There are many reasons I didn't need to be writing for you 25 years ago – and many reasons I'm incredibly blessed to do so today.

I never learned to be much of a teacher or to farm 1,500 acres profitably or to audit corporate financial records. One thing I have learned, though, is that God's richest gifts often come only after we run out of our own answers.

If you haven't found your life's work yet, don't despair.

David had to be a shepherd before he could be a king. Paul had to be a persecutor before he could be an apostle. Esther had to be an orphan before she could save her people. Ruth had to be a widow and a beggar before she could be the great-grandmother of God. My pastor had to be a lawyer (gasp!) before he could be, ahem, a shepherd.

Your life's work is out there waiting to be found. And it's worth the wait.

In the meantime, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Happy Labor Day.

Errol Castens is the Daily Journal religion editor. Contact him at 678-1586 or

Click video to hear audio