Finding your sweet spot
Rob Parkman’s journey towards his calling offers inspiration for others along the way
Some people would call me an underdog. I came out of a rough working-class background in a remote community where people who succeeded in life were viewed with suspicion and envy.
As a young person my world was full of people who abused substances, acted in violence, were in trouble with the law and lived with a poverty mentality. A job was something that you despised, a necessary evil. There was more month than there was money. You lived for a few moments of escape on the weekend.
I began to build a ramp towards my calling
Anxious to leave my past behind to pursue my calling, I headed off to a Christian college. The teachers and ministry team leaders I was exposed to added more jerry cans of fuel to the bonfire of my dreams and absolutely wrecked me for an ordinary life!
From that point, I experimented with many types of work in an attempt to find my vocational sweet spot. Each of these jobs along the way added another piece of the puzzle until my calling gained more clarity and my personal capacity grew. I would like to say that this took two years, but in reality it took closer to two decades.
When I hit my early forties, I gained a new sense of urgency to find work that was meaningful, significant, enjoyable and profitable. The good experiences I had vocationally pulled me towards my sweet spot, and left me hungry for more. The bad experiences I had vocationally pushed me towards my sweet spot, and ruined my appetite for living for the values of others.
I began to build a ramp towards my calling while I kept up with the commitments of the job I had at the time. This involved exploring and learning everything I could about the areas I wanted to pursue. It involved seeking ways to make sure the bills would be paid once the transition was made. It also involved networking and building mutually beneficial partnerships that would serve us well going forward.
Then the fateful day came. I left my comfortable salary, my group insurance benefits and my employer-matched retirement contributions. It was difficult to walk away from that security into a mode where I would be self-employed, but living in my sweet spot had become a higher value for me than security.
What would possess a family man to take such drastic action?
I’ve asked myself that question many times. I suppose that I did not want to hold my God-given passions in any longer. They were boiling over and I was tired of holding them in! I did not want any more time on the clock to expire before discovering how many of my dreams might become a reality. I did not want to be subject to any person or organization that may delay or deflate my dreams.
At the time, my wife was sensing the same urgency about her calling in music, so the fact that we could journey into the uncertainty together really helped!
What exactly are the passions that were boiling over?
First, I have a heart to see renewal in the church. This brings us before around 5,000 people a year at churches, colleges and camps. Second, I seek to be an encouragement and resource to leaders. I have had the privilege of speaking at leadership events both at home and abroad. Third, I want to multiply my ministry through the lives of young adults that I help to mentor, equip and release. This involves taking a few weeks a year to teach modular courses at a Christian college. Fourth, I desire to see as many children as possible released from poverty in Jesus’ name. This has brought my wife and I into a partnership with Compassion Canada. I also wanted to explore motivational speaking in schools, PhD studies and writing.
As you can guess, this has me spinning many different plates in a given week. I have found that pursuing my sweet spot required far more sustained effort, preparation, risk and focus than I could ever have imagined. At the same time, I have discovered that the process has been more invigorating and rewarding than I could ever have imagined. For me, living in my sweet spot means that I am ‘maxing out’ on the impact I have on the lives of others for the glory of God.
If you are thinking of taking some risks to get into your sweet spot, I encourage you to allow the journey of others to be your inspiration.
God be with you!
Rob Parkman is a speaker & leadership consultant and has spoken in 15 countries. He has written a book called REFUEL: Strengthening Your Soul, Energizing Your Mission that will be released in December 2015. Rob blogs on life and leadership at www.robparkman.com.