The Duty Call

I finish my on call week in two hours and two minutes time. That’s 122 minutes. Or 7,320 seconds. Not that I’m counting. Once every seven weeks, with heavy heart, I perform this duty in order that the organisation I work for can provide a 24/7 response to any critical incidents which require an immediate response anywhere in the country.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s quite an honour and responsibility to perform the role. I’ve had years of training and not just anybody gets to hold the on call phone. In order to be placed in that position of trust by my managers I have had to demonstrate I had the  necessary knowledge, experience and skills to do so. It is a high pressure responsibility and requires strong decision making, problem solving and communication skills. I have had to prove myself.

I won’t go into details about my job but the phone call we all dread is the one at three a.m in the morning. You are lurched like a bungee jumper out of the sanctuary of sleep into the raw realisation that the phone is ringing. You gather your senses and in that split second attempt to don the cloak of calm professionalism that the caller will expect to hear when you hit the answer button.

Your stomach is churning. Ninety nine times out of hundred it’s not ‘that call’. Rather it’s something that can be dealt with over the phone. Or can wait until the morning. Allowing you to slip back under the covers and forget about the world for a few more hours. 


You answer the phone and wait with bated breath as the person on the other end begins to brief you regarding the incident. Get to the point, get to the point you want to scream at them. Your nerves are rattling. Your palms are sweating. Then they say it. And everything changes with the dreaded words….’We have had a fatality. We are holding the scene for you. What do you want us to do?’

There is that second of horror before the years of training kick in and your brain clicks into automatic pilot in order to process the million and one issues that you now need to address. The issues that will be your life for the foreseeable future. The issues that will mean you waving goodbye to your warm bed and family as you head out into the dead of night to drive God knows where. 

That second of horror can seem like forever. And your mind can plant all sorts of nasty seeds in that second. Lobbing hand grenades of self-doubt at you as you gather yourself to deal with the call. You’re not good enough. You’ve been over promoted. You’re going to make a mess of it and lose your job.

But that voice is a lie. The adrenaline kicks in and the nerves dissipate. Experience and training overcome worry and fear. The voice of reason drowns out the voice of inadequacy. You muddle through. You get the job done. By hook or by crook. You manage. And when it’s all over you look back and worry what all the fuss was about.

How many times in your life have you allowed the lies to make you feel small and worthless? How many times have you turned our back on a challenge as it seems insurmountable? Viewed a challenge as a minefield rather than an experience to be relished and savoured. And before we know it, that opportunity is gone. And we curl up in our comfort zones, unwilling to develop, to grow. To live, to dream, to thrive.

My challenge to you today is to live your life as if you are permanently on call. 24/7. 365. For the rest of your life. And when that phone rings pick it up. Don’t hide under the duvet. Because you are good enough. You are brave enough. You are smart enough. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let up. Nothing is impossible. Live the impossible. Make it your reality today.

‘Every morning I see another miracle. I can’t believe I’m living the impossible.’ – Lacey Sturm

Have you ever worked on call? How did you find it?

How often does the liar in your mind tell you that you are not good enough?

How do you overcome that voice? 

12 thoughts on “The Duty Call

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  1. I’m on call every 5 weeks. When the phone rings, there is a mess somewhere and I have to see it gets fixed. Getting yanked out of a sound sleep is just as you describe but somehow, I manage to get it all together and start the restoration process within minutes.

    I like the way you apply that to life, that we must answer the call rather than ignore it and avoid it.

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  2. I’ve never really held a job, that’s something that is humiliating to admit at almost 40. I’ve never worked “full time ” 32+ hours and never stayed at a job more than a year. I haven’t worked in 15 years. So no on call. And the lying voice tells me I’m a loser – I don’t contribute- but I raise 2 children one with autism and mental health issues the other ADHD and anxiety. I homeschool them. I am on call 24/7/365 I am shaping today, tomorrow and the future for 2 human beings, and I feel horrifically untrained. I get up pray for Him to guide me one more day- every day

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  3. Life hits and I’m at a loss of words. Still learning, and adjusting, each and every moment. Wondering how I’ll get through, how my husband will get through. And God reminds me, as He told Moses, “I AM” and then He whispers, “I’ll be with you.”

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      1. Yes, it is as you said, with one problem fixed another dilemma appears. We have a home, now we just have money issues to work on. I’m striving to focus on God. Ironically, as I work on my Bible Summary for Exodus (which hopefully I can get done by tomorrow) God has been tugging on my heart. Just like when He gave Moses all assurance and promise, Moses still struggled trusting Him. I don’t want to be like that, therefore, I want to step out in faith. : ) God will provide!

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