Updated: Nov 15, 2020
It is very odd that the word misemployed cannot be found in every dictionary, particularly since its very meaning is experienced by millions of Americans. What does it mean exactly? Well, let’s break the word down into its parts.
The prefix mis means “badly or wrongly” and employ means to “put to use”. Therefore, misemployed means to badly put to use and when we use this term in relation to a person, it essentially describes someone who is applying their time and energy toward the wrong task. But, let me replace the word task in my paraphrased definition with a profound, weighty phrase, which I believe truly expresses the deepest meaning of the word: someone who is applying their time and energy toward the wrong purpose in life. Now, let’s take this very loaded definition and form a critical, life-changing question from it: Are you using your time and energy toward fulfilling your purpose in life? For those of you who are unsure of the answer to the question, allow me to clarify. For many of us, our purpose in life typically takes the form of a job or career, so I’ll ask you the question a different way: Do you consider your current job or career as your purpose in life? Are you doing what you believe you were born, destined, or designed to do? If your answer is “No,” then I am confirming what you already knew in your soul: you are misemployed. There was a time when I did not know to ask myself that question, but the deep part of my soul begged for an answer to why I was miserable – a misery born from being misemployed for ten years; a misery born from pouring my God-given talents, energy, time, passion and personal resources into a career that I knew from year one that I could not – would not – do for the rest of my life. However, I sucked up the misery as best as I could because, quite frankly, I was insecure and afraid to move toward my passion, and as the primary bread winner, I was afraid to take risks in pursuing my real dream. You see, I was raised with the belief that you “just deal” with a job if you have to because, as a family man, you must have, at least, a steady salary and healthcare benefits… …and in my ignorance and fear, I did not believe that my dream could promise both, so to ensure that my family was provided for, I buried my passion under the altar of life’s responsibilities and for a few years, I almost forgot about my dream… …but there are so many Sunday evening anxiety attacks that one can endure… …there are just so many Monday mornings where you hope your car breaks down so you don’t have to go to work… …there are only so many days where you feel that you are the wrong person for the wrong job… …there are only so many sick days you can take from work… …there are just so many weeks where you rush your life away just to get to Friday… …there are just so many years you can take where your unhappiness poisons other areas of your life… …before that altar cracks wide open from top to bottom, revealing your buried dream, and bitterness, anger, regret, apathy, and depression begin to consume you and the person you remember you were – the one who was filled with energy, optimism, dreams, passion and great expectations – is long since dead, and what is left in his or her place is a shell of the person you really wanted to be. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone…
…but there is hope.
The late Dr. Myles Munroe, a pastor, a best-selling author, a motivational speaker, once profoundly stated that “The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America [nor] the oil fields of Iraq or Iran, [nor] the diamond mines of South Africa. The wealthiest place in the world is the cemetery [because] there lies buried the companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, best-selling books that were never written, masterpieces that were never painted, songs that were never sung, and children that were never born. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.” The implication here is you dare not leave this world and take with you all the potential that is within.
So, how do you make sure that you do not make the graveyard richer than it already is? Well, first, take a moment and think about this question: What are you passionate about? Let me put it a few other ways: What do you enjoy doing that you do naturally well? If money was not an issue in your life – all of your family needs were met for the rest of your life – what would you do daily without needing to get paid for it? What activity stirs your heart and ignites within you a yearning to do it? What do you dream all the time of doing if you had the opportunity? Whatever your answer is, it is a clue to your purpose in this life - and the purpose of any thing is to meet a need or solve a problem. So, what needs or problems were you specifically made to handle in this life?
The Ziklag Model
And this leads me to the Ziklag model of pursuing purpose. This model comes from a biblical story about King David and his warriors. In the New King James Version, I Chronicles 12:1-8 states: Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war, armed with bows, using both the right hand and left in hurling stones and shooting arrows with the bow…some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear…” Contained within this story are three principles for fulfilling your purpose in life. When God ordained that David become king in place of Saul, He gradually sent David an army of men, who were mighty, men of valor and able to use both right hand and left for hurling stones and shooting arrows. These helpers of David were strong, brave and ambidextrous men, and that speaks of natural ability. We all have been given natural abilities and if you are not aware of your natural talents, you have the honor and the responsibility to identify your natural gifts. There are many online skill and ability assessment tests which are great tools to help you recognize your talents.
The next principle is found in the actions of these men. These men came to David. While he was still a fugitive, sought after by King Saul, these men came to David and helped him in his conflict with the king. Their actions expressed a commitment to David and their commitment expressed a passion for him and what he was supposed to be – the next King of Israel. Consequently, once you have identified your natural abilities, you need to next identify the one that you are most passionate about and how will it benefit others in some way? Remember: the purpose of any thing is to meet a need or solve a problem. The passion you feel about a particular thing and the actions you take to fulfill your passion may literally change a household, a community, a city, our nation, even our world.
The last principle is the most critical, I believe. The men whom served David were skilled at warfare and trained for battle, so they could expertly handle shield and spear. You may not be involved in a war, so to speak, but there are people, families, companies, ministries, and communities, even countries, that are in need of you, your talents, your passion and your potential. Ultimately, what I am saying is – invest in yourself! Develop your talents, strengthen your assets, get the training you need, seek mentoring, or further your education - not only to enhance your own life but also to become more effective – more competent – in carrying out the assignment for which you were made. While growing up, my father always shared a particular wisdom with me that, sadly, I did not appreciate until much later in my life: “A talent untrained is a talent wasted.” How many of us are not using our talents? How many of us may, in fact, know what our particular gift is, but we are not developing it…
You see, you no longer have to be misemployed. Identify your talent, admit your passion for it and pursue it by being mentored, trained, or educated in it so you can eventually become a man or woman of excellence in that area, highly sought after by those who recognize that you possess something that their home, their company, their state, their nation, or the world needs. Do not continue to do a job or career that is dead to you. Make a plan to transition from your job into your passionate purpose, and if the purpose you are passionate about takes you back to the dreams you had for yourself when you were a little kid, it is ok to pursue the dreams of your youth.
A great book that goes into great detail about discovering your personal abilities and vision is below: