As we suggested in our last post, our careers, occupations and jobs may change throughout our lifetime. Our vocational calling, however, remains constant.
This can be confusing, especially as we look at the work of our church pastors, whose vocational calling is usually the same as their careers, occupations, or jobs. Yet for the rest of us that is usually not the case. It is reported that today’s typical college graduate will not have only one career but several during their lifetime. And each career will have numerous occupations and who knows how many jobs. The days of putting in 35 years for the same company and retiring with a gold watch are long gone.
As I look back over the many different jobs (and several different careers) in my own life I can see the emergence of a pattern, a common thread woven through each and every job. Although I will admit sometimes it is more visible than at other times. My vocational calling was the place in the world of productive work for which I was created, designed and destined to fill based on my God-given gifts and talents and the opportunities presented to me by God’s providence. God consistently used me to do very much the same things in many different settings.
If you are still confused about your vocational calling, the best advice is to go back and understand your call in Christ.
Professor Jennifer Scott in an article entitled “Our Callings, Our Selves,” writes that calling “…originally meant ‘a call…’” and was associated with “…the biblical calling of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament and to the New Testament calling of disciples by Christ.” Thus, from a Christian perspective calling, or vocation, was a chance for followers to “listen to God and understand who they are” before they can know what work to do. Understanding who we are in Christ individually helps us to more clearly see our vocational calling which may be defined as the fulfillment of our divine destiny.
Out of this primary calling to become a disciple of Christ flow secondary calls to action in certain areas of our lives, particularly the workplace. We have seen how Martin Luther and the other reformers, as author Roland Bainton says, “extended the concept of divine call, vocation, to all worthy occupations.” They saw occupation – everyday work – as a timely opportunity for service, in God’s providence, presented to believers to enable them to fulfill their vocational calling.
So, rather than equate vocational calling with a specific occupation or career, we are called to be Christians in whatever situations we find ourselves. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,” Paul urged the Corinthians, “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
R. Paul Stevens in his book Doing God’s Business mirrors the Apostle Paul’s statement when he writes: “The New Testament treats work in the context of a larger framework: the call of God to live totally for him and his kingdom.”
As we strive to fulfill God’s call on our lives through our vocational calling, our efforts glorify God, further his kingdom and, as we will see in the next post, serve the common good.
Question: What are ways you have fulfilled your vocational calling in different jobs or careers? Leave a comment here.