Sunday, July 26, 2009

God@Work - Your Multiple Vocations

God@Work is a four part series held at my church to provide a biblical understanding of work - notes from the first session are posted here.

The second session of the God@Work series is on our multiple vocations. Many of us use the word vocation to mean a job or career but in fact, vocation has implications on primary areas of our lives - family, church, society and yes, our daily worklife. The word vocation is derived from the Latin word for calling (vocare).

The Reformation promoted a view of vocation that encouraged each person to see their work as a sacred calling. Callings are not reserved simply for the priests or pastors but in fact, God creates and equips each person in His kingdom to accomplish His purposes and plans in this world. Instead of seeing vocation as what we should or could do, the Reformers' emphasized God's work in and through our vocations. God uses us in our vocations to reveal himself to the world around us.

Our vocation starts with the Greatest Commandment from Mark 12:29-31

"Jesus answered, "... 'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' ...'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Vocation starts with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength... because He first loved us. His initiating love is the foundation of our vocation.

We are also called to love our neighbor. Vocation is played out, not only in extraordinary success but also in the realm of ordinary, daily life. We don't find vocation only in the realm of our job or career but also in other areas that God has called us to work in - family, church, society. You could say that vocation should be not viewed in the singular but in the plural - vocations in the spheres of life that God has called us to.

Workplace - we are called to serve our neighbor through our labor.
Family - we are called to serve as husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, grandparents
Church - we are called to serve in the local church community and for the advance of the gospel.
Society - we are called to serve our neighbor through charitable work, political involvement

All of these are callings to which God has called us. Not all of them carry equal weight. As an example: our calling as a husband or mother supersedes the call to bless the broader society through charitable work or political involvement.

Scripture will guide our priorities and emphasis. The important thing to remember is that all these callings are not in conflict but rather work in concert under God's guidance to bring about good in our lives and the lives of those around us. We also need the wisdom and fellowship from our church community to understand and fulfill these multiple vocations.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I like this. Too often we look at our job alone as vocation. But it's all we're called to be as human beings. And all we do is to be an expression of that.

And I like the way you sort through it here.

I do have to say I'm utterly worn out by my work, day after day, and that would be true if I got enough sleep (and when I do). I know my job is an important part of fulfilling my calling overall, involving stewardship of what I do have from it, while hopefully stewarding is going on well all the way around (since I do work in a Christian ministry). I would like to earn money from other things I can do. But I've learned to accept the idea that if I'm going to be whatever it is, I want to be the best whatever it is I can be, and to love God and my neighbor- starting at home through it and everything.


Every Square Inch said...

Ted - thanks for your thoughts. I'm sorry that you are working hard and not receiving satisfaction from your job.

May God give you both joy and strength for your calling.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Sorry if I communicated that to you. I wouldn't put it that way, myself. I can only imagine doing what I love doing, like reading and writing, for a job. But actually I do enjoy what I do there. It is physically taxing, though. God gives the enjoyment (Ecclesiastes) and it is for a most worthy cause and work, I believe.