Theology 101

How to Understand Your Vocational Calling

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In order to understand the Biblical doctrine of work, we must clearly understand the differences between vocational calling and career, occupation, or job. Vocational calling is the call to God and to His service in the vocational sphere of life based on giftedness, desires, affirmations, and human need.

Vocational calling is usually stable and permanent over a lifetime. Discovering our vocation is possible because it is based on giftedness, interests, passions, and human need, which are all easy to identify.

Frederick Buechner in his book Wishful Thinking described it by saying, “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

In the medieval church, vocational calling applied only to the holy orders of the priests. We have seen how the reformers restored vocation as applied to all work. In regard to the secondary calling of vocation, Martin Luther wrote,

What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. For what we do in our calling here on earth in accordance with His word and command He counts as if it were done in Heaven for Him… Therefore we should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and the work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.

A career should be based on the opportunities for service which are presented to a believer enabling him or her to fulfill their vocation.

Finding the right occupation at any one time is a matter of God’s specific leadership, guidance, and provision. Solomon wrote, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25).

Vocational calling stays the same as we move in and out of different jobs and careers. Our vocation is directly related to the discovery of our God-given talents. Over time we develop and hone them into useful competencies for the glory of God and the service of others, often in various jobs and occupations.

Our vocational calling from God to the workplace is something above any given job or even a career.

Question: How does this definition of vocational calling change your perception of your daily work? Leave a comment here.

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