Monday, June 10, 2019

The Hammer vs. The Thunder

There's a scene in Thor: Ragnarok during the big final conflict, where Thor has a vision of his father Odin. During this vision, this exchange happens:

Thor: She's too strong. Without my hammer, I can't--
Odin: Are you Thor, The God of Hammers?

The point that Odin wants to drive home for Thor is that his iconic hammer--which was destroyed early in the movie--was a tool, but not the main point.

Thor is the god of thunder, which the hammer could help him control, harness, and focus. The hammer was a particular expression of his power, but not the main source or purpose of it.

I was hanging out with an old friend recently. He's a professor of communications and a professional mediator. So basically it's his job to help people frame and reframe what they say and what they mean and what they're thinking.

We were talking about things related to vocation, and he kept bringing the conversation back around to the question, "What is your sense of mission?"

There are particular things that we may do as part of our sense of calling or purpose in the world, but are they really part of our larger mission? Or to put it a different way, are the particular tasks that we engage in day to day a faithful expression or part of our core mission?

Are we focusing on the hammer or the thunder?

Someone discerns that they have culinary gifts. They have reached a point where they've grown frustrated with their line cook position at a popular chain. What is their larger mission as a chef beyond the particular demands of the food industry?

Someone becomes passionate about education and begins their career as a teacher in a middle school, but eventually grows weary of the daily demands of their environment. What is their larger mission as an educator, and where might they best serve next?

Someone dedicated to the psychology field becomes weary of the demands of their clinical setting, but wants to keep one foot in that area while also helping train others. What is their larger mission in that field?

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the particular expression of what we're doing that we lose sight of the larger mission at our core. We confuse our particular job with our larger sense of vocation. We mistake the hammer for the thunder.

It helps often to find ways to re-center ourselves around what that core mission is for us, as it helps us evaluate whether the particular expression of our gifts and resources is an authentic expression of our deeper self-understanding. If we constantly remind ourselves of the former, we may better serve in or re-evaluate the former.

Sometimes we may feel like we need to keep wielding the same hammer. At other times we may figure out that it's time to set it down and pick up a different one, or another tool entirely.

What is your larger mission; your larger vocation? How well are your particulars expressing, harnessing, and focusing it?

(Image source)