I’ve been thinking a lot about my calling or my purpose, and once—only once— I had this sort of bright-white electric filament feeling when I inquired if it should be what I have done in the past: humane societies and animal shelters. Even though I’m not Catholic, I’ve always liked St. Francis of Assi and concept that we should “protect nature and animals as the stewards of God’s creation and as creations ourselves.” Is this an actual calling or am I being too hopeful and introverted?
Hey, this is a really cool question, so please do not be embarrassed about it at all. I adopted an awesome dog named Rosco from the Humane Society and I love him like family. I’ve also had a couple adopted cats (I’m one of the rare people who likes both), so I totally get your concern for animals.
When I was in college, I remember a guest speaker on a Sunday saying, “Do you ever see people with pets? Those people are so sad. They spend tons of money on their animals and don’t have any real friends. What’s the point of owning some animal?” He immediately alienated half the congregation.
I completely understand how the pet industry can become idolatry. I know how many millions of dollars go to “pet toys” and dog shows and all the abuse of breeding. It can go overboard
But pets can bring huge joy to their owners and teach a lot about patience, kindness, and responsibility. Pets can be great for certain people with disabilities or military veterans or just lonely people. When my youth group would hang out at my place, my dog would bring them all together in laughter. And owning a pet doesn’t instantly mean you hate people or you’re a hermit or you could “use that money for starving kids in Africa.”
I also believe, to the best of my limited knowledge, that animals do have certain rights and someone should be looking out for them. Blinded chickens with no beaks kept in tiny cages, even if they taste good, just feels inhumane. Again, it could go overboard real quickly (come on PETA) — but it’s a legit calling. You might be accused of loving animals over people, but someone will always try to Jesus-Juke you like that. Let’s leave those fears behind.
The best thing to do here is to gut-check your motives. If you secretly want to take care of animals to avoid interaction with people — well, you already know that’s not the best motivation. But like with any career, if you can turn this into an opportunity to care for God’s creation while also serving with like-minded individuals and ministering to them, then you’re onto something great.
The point here is: Never follow a calling at the expense of God’s people. God’s calling is about Him AND His people.
Pastors can serve a church without caring an ounce for those inside. Some of us go on mission trips to take pictures and obtain bragging rights. The same goes for any career. You wouldn’t ever want to shut out people in anything you do.
The thing is: the people I know who love animals also tend to be pretty good with people too. Hardly ever do I meet the caricature of the crazed animal-rights spokesman — the very few who exist show up on the news where the media sensationalizes everything anyway. When I go to the animal clinic, I notice the employees are not “crazy cat ladies” or insane animal-lovers, but they actually have a special bond over their mission.
Imagine bringing Christ into a place like that. Imagine doing what you love and instilling others with your passion and bringing them to a deeper love that they have never known. Almost any vocation is capable of keeping Christ at the center. You can bring Jesus anywhere: so take heart, seize your God-given gifts and talents, and go for it.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters …
— Colossians 3:23