Reclaiming the Idea of Vocation

I’m learning what my primary calling is—and isn’t.

“How does God speak to you most frequently?”

I stared at the question in my devotional journal, a grin creeping across my face. Some days I have trouble answering the stretching questions posed in this devotional, but this one drew an immediate answer: patterns and repetition. I’m not sure if I need to hear the same message over and over in different ways and places because I’m stubborn or because I need to think about things for a while, but this is the way God speaks to me. Over and over again he’s made his will clear to me through patterns and repetition.

There was the time I was being called to career ministry. I had many people from all walks of life suddenly suggest this career to me, even though I hold an education degree. Then a spiritual gifts inventory pointed me that way. Then a pastor. And then a position in my hometown opened. I took it without hesitating. The experience taught me so much.

Or there was also the time God was teaching me about truly putting my trust in him—to claim that he is good regardless of my circumstances. First came many pertinent Bible readings, then a suspiciously similarly themed book for class, then a lost relationship, and finally a lost job. Then nearly a year of waiting for a new job. I was broken down by the repetition, but the message came through loud and clear, and I am better for it.

Currently, God is speaking to me about vocation and reclaiming this important biblical concept. I’d heard of vocation before, even thought I had a pretty good idea of what it meant. But as I’ve started working in a new career and attending a new church, it’s been helpful to reconsider. And let’s face it; I haven’t had much of a choice.

God’s been using repetition again to speak to me. I’m reading The Call by Os Guinness for a class, working through a church-wide campaign on finding personal mission, and doing a writing project for emerging adult Christians (18-30)—a group that is searching for identity and purpose. In another, unrelated class I’m working on a counseling case study about a man who doesn’t know who he is and what his life should be about. And I recently heard a talk from a yoga instructor on the importance of finding that one thing you must do in life—that thing that brings you amazing joy because it’s what you’re meant to do.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about the word vocation, even though it’s been around for centuries. In The Call Os Guinness breaks down the misconceptions into two types: the Catholic distortion and the Protestant distortion. He defines the Catholic distortion as believing vocation is only for those called to career ministry—pastors, priests, nuns. This makes vocation only about spiritual things, and neglects the fact that everyone who follows Jesus has been called.

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