vocation

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vo·ca·tion

[vōˈkāSH(ə)n/]

noun

  1. a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation; calling
    1. late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin vocatio(n-), from vocare ‘to call.’

I, like many young people, am unsure of 1) who I am and 2) what or who I am called to be.

Now, I know the Sunday-school answer to both of these questions. “I am a child of God, beloved to him! He calls me to serve Him and His Kingdom!” Adults (and by adults, I mean people over the age of 35) like to give this Sunday-school answer, and then tell you that it’s normal to feel this way as a young person. This is wildly unhelpful, and vaguely ironic, as I have no doubt that they also hated that answer at my age. Nonetheless, it is the useless answer I am given.

The issue further expands when the Sunday-school answer meets the achievement-based value popular in the US. Some churches really love to ask questions like: “How are you serving the Kingdom?” Jobs like missionary or pastor are valued over teacher or lawyer. Are any of those jobs bad? No. Are we called to serve? Of course. But there is an element of toxicity in that viewpoint that has been internalized more than we might realize.

I’ve certainly found that to be true.

So listening to Skye Jethani speak on Tuesday was wonderful. He spoke about about 1 Corinthians 7 and the three levels of calling (the highest being to God, the common being to “the rules,” and then our specific callings), I felt vindicated from that fear that what I was interested (Writing? Reading? Teaching? None of the above?) in was good enough. Brutal as it may sound, my favorite point of his was that by assuming that God needs us to do His work is, frankly, arrogant. God doesn’t need us. He wants us. And that’s even better.

I’m not speaking against missionary or pastoral work. Those things are both important, and blessed. But it’s okay to not be called to those things. I don’t have to be a missionary to have value. 

I don’t have to know, and I don’t have to worry.

3 thoughts on “vocation

  1. I like what you said about the “sunday school answer.” It is frustrating to get that response, but honestly we’ll probably be giving the same advice in about a decade. I guess that’s how it works. 🙂
    Although I didn’t hear him speak, I relate to what you wrote. In my experience also, missionary and pastoral work are projected as the paths that serve God the most simply because they relate directly to churches. But there are more callings than there are careers. If all Christians were missionaries and pastors, who would be there to serve God in the ordinary places where people need it just as much?
    I also liked how you started the post with the definition of vocation. I’d never thought about that word before and assumed it meant the same thing as “job” or “career.” Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Our first calling is always to be God’s child..I know I have probably given you a “pat” answer, but in truth, you get to wrestle this out 🙂 Love you

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  3. Libby, I’m so glad you addressed this topic, and that you explored it on several levels. We’ll be discussing this later in the class, and I hope to refer back to your post when we get there. I’ve always liked what Frederick Buechner says about calling, but what you shared from the speaker sounded worthwhile.

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