The Incredibles and Vocation

My kids have been flitting through some of the Disney Pixar movies.  Cars (2006) has always been a favorite, but The Incredibles (2004) has been making its rounds in our home as of late. Me being me, I can’t help but watch and think: The Incredibles is a great story to demonstrate vocational calling.


IMDB offers a basic plot summary:

Mr. Incredible is a superhero; or he used to be, until a surge of lawsuits against superheroes submitted by the people they’ve saved forced the government to hide them in witness protection programs so they could lead normal, anonymous lives. Now known exclusively by his secret identity, Bob Parr, he lives with his wife Helen, formerly Elastigirl, and their three children Violet, Dash, and Jack Jack. He works as an insurance claims specialist, and he’s fed up with his pushy boss and his immoral profession, but his wife’s worked too hard to build a normal life for her family to abide his nostalgia for heroism. When Mr. Incredible’s offered the chance to play the role of hero again by a mysterious informant, he jumps at the opportunity, but when it turns out to be a trap set by an old nemesis he had a hand in corrupting, the whole family must reveal themselves to save Mr. Incredible and countless innocents. Written by Michael Loughrin

With three kids to care for, Elastigirl embraces her life as Helen Parr.  Her husband Bob, however, is miserable.  He goes through the motions of a job he hates because of his love for his family, but doing so is killing his spirit.

In the movie itself as well as on film review sites like IMDB and Fandango, Mr. Incredible’s passion and desire for heroism is dismissed as nostalgia, reminiscing about the “good ole days.”

It’s so much more than that, though.

Look at Mr. Incredible while he’s suppressing his true self:

incredibles-bob-parr-character

This is a man who is emotionally unsatisfied.  Every ounce of his energy goes into suppressing the burning desires in his heart.  The animators depict the physical toll this has taken in his slumped posture, weight gain, and circles under his eyes.  In his speech, his voice is deflated.  It’s not just that he works for an annoying, immoral boss appropriately voiced by Wallace Shawn.  It’s that he’s not allowed to actually do what he does best: help people.

When he talks about his “glory days,” his eyes light up and the energy returns to his whole being.  After years of sneaking around and finding ways to clandestinely help people, Mr. Incredible responds to a cryptic invitation to secretly resume his superhero ways and fight bad guys.

the incredibles -1-sizedThe change in his whole being is evident: physically, emotionally, mentally, and I’d venture to say even spiritually. Instead of withdrawing into his mancave of memories, Mr. Incredible starts flirting with his wife and being more present to his family.

Plot twists abound, but suffice it to say the “happily ever after” of this Disney flick involves the whole Incredible family living out their vocation as superheros.

Vocational Calling

Calling a person’s job or career a vocation indicates something specific.  Google the definition of vocation and you can see certain words pop out:

vocation definition - Google Search - Google Chrome 882013 30206 PM.bmpThe focus isn’t so much on the job itself as the sense of calling described as a strong feeling of suitability.  While Christian tradition will always insist that a person’s worth, value, and dignity are never limited to the function of his or her job, there is a deeper understanding that our passion, gifts, and talents are at the very core of our being.  This is how God created us; it is who God created us to be.  It is God who gives us this vocational calling.

Following our passions and using our gifts and talents (for good, not evil) gives greater glory to God.  And the rewards of living out one’s vocation abundantly flow to everyone in our lives: spouse, family, friends, co-workers… every person you encounter on your path.

Not doing this–not following one’s vocational calling and suppressing who you are called to be–takes its toll in more ways than one.

Watching The Incredibles is a fun way to visit this dynamic, especially the transformation that happens when a person can (finally) live out their vocation.  But the real challenge–and rewards–come in actually doing it.

Do you know someone who is living out their vocational calling?  Or do you know of a Mr. Incredible in your own life that desperately needs to do so?  What piece of this speaks to where you are with your own vocation?

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One response to this post.

  1. I love love LOVE this Momilie. It is short, HITS the MARK and as always quite amusing. Thanks!

    Reply

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