CHURCH & MINISTRY
Ten Questions to Help You Identify Your Calling/Vocation
By Alan Cross
Happy Labor Day! One of the most important things for Christians to understand is the value of work and the ways that God calls us to co-labor with Him to steward His Creation. One of the curses from the Fall was that labor would become toil and hardship. But, one of the ways that Christ redeems, renews, and restores and brings forward the New Creation is through helping us to see our work as something holy and a way that we participate in God's economy.
Martin Luther understood this and helped us recover the Doctrine of Vocation. He says that every Christian has a calling or a Vocation within which we cooperate with God to participate in His sovereign rule. Instead of work just being about making money or getting stuff done, it is actually how we commune with and join together with God in the way that He takes care of all of us. Work then becomes holy.
Gene Edward Veith has written a great deal on this. Here, he explains what Luther's Doctrine of Vocation is:
It goes something like this: When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And he does. The way he gives us our daily bread is through the vocations of farmers, millers, and bakers. We might add truck drivers, factory workers, bankers, warehouse attendants, and the lady at the checkout counter. Virtually every step of our whole economic system contributes to that piece of toast you had for breakfast. And when you thanked God for the food that he provided, you were right to do so.Every Christian has a unique Calling/Vocation. But, how do we know what it is? Most people do not really understand how God uses them in daily life and we do not spend much time trying to figure it out. We just go from one thing to the next and then begin to despise our work and spend our time trying to get to the weekend or holidays so we can enjoy ourselves again. But, there is purpose and dignity in our work at our jobs, as husbands/wives/fathers/mothers, in our church, and in our community. We all have a calling and a role to play in many spheres of life - wherever God places us.
God could have chosen to create new human beings to populate the earth out of the dust, as he did with the first man. But instead, he chose to create new life-which, however commonplace, is no less miraculous-by means of mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, the vocations of the family.
God protects us through the vocations of earthly government, as detailed in Romans 13. He gives his gifts of healing usually not through out-and-out miracles (though he can) but by means of the medical vocations. He proclaims his word by means of human pastors. He teaches by means of teachers. He creates works of beauty and meaning by means of human artists, whom he has given particular talents. . . .
. . . . God is milking the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid, said Luther. According to Luther, vocation is a "mask of God." He is hidden in vocation. We see the milkmaid, or the farmer, or the doctor or pastor or artist. But, looming behind this human mask, God is genuinely present and active in what they do for us . . .
. . . . For a Christian, conscious of vocation as the mask of God, all of life, even the most mundane facets of our existence, become occasions to glorify God. Whenever someone does something for you-brings your meal at a restaurant, cleans up after you, builds your house, preaches a sermon-be grateful for the human beings whom God is using to bless you and praise him for his unmerited gifts. Do you savor your food? Glorify God for the hands that prepared it. Are you moved by a work of art-a piece of music, a novel, a movie? Glorify God who has given such artistic gifts to human beings.
Of course, that vocation is a mask of God means that God also works through you, in your various callings. That God is hidden in what we do is often obscured by our own sinful and selfish motivations. But that does not prevent God from acting.
How do you know how what your calling is?
- What are you good at? Where do you seem to have skill/gifting? What do others see in you? Ask someone close to you.
- What do you enjoy? What are you interested in?
- What experiences do you have? What education/training?
- What opportunities do you have? What doors have opened for you?
- What responsibilities do you have? Obligations?
- Where do you fit with the body or with your team/family? How have others affirmed you? We are not supposed to do everything by ourselves. We need each other.
- What kinds of dreams/visions/goals do you have?
- What needs to be done? What is not being done that you can do something about? How can others be served/helped through you?
- Where is God at work in your life and how would He have you join Him?
- What can you do to join with God and bring Him glory? How can you help others know Him through your Vocation?
No matter what we do, our work has meaning and value. God is using us to run His world and He asks us to join Him with joy and faith that the work that we do in His name will never fade away.
Alan Cross is a pastor and blogger from Montgomery, AL. You can read more of his writing at DownShoreDrift.com.
Image Credit: marco minnucci; "Untitled"; Creative Commons
comments powered by Disqus