What you do for a living is suppose to be a ministry for the Lord. What you do day-in and day-out at work is what the Church calls a vocation. It is the call of God on your life being lived out in your everyday world – where you work and where you live.
The word “vocation” is not used often in non-Catholic circles. However, it is a powerful word that comes from the same root as “voice” and so denotes the hearing of the divine call on our lives. Listen carefully: beyond knowing that God has a purpose for our lives, most of us spend little energy seeking our vocation, especially in light of how the needs and sufferings of others might inform how we use our gifts for divine purposes.
Shane Claiborne writes, “There are plenty of people who are miserable in their jobs, for they have not listened to God’s call. And I would add there are many Christians who are not fulfilled in their spiritual lives because they have no sense of their gifts or purpose … (this) leads to emptiness and burnout.” (Page 138 – The Irresistible Revolution).
I was sitting with some young people the other day – there are three young men I meet with weekly on a one-to-one basis whenever I am in the city. And, the conversation turned, as it often does, to what they want to do with life and decisions that need to be made regarding their future – schooling, job changes, life partners. Without knowing it these three young men are actually looking for their “vocation” or the voice of God in their life and a word or a sense of direction regarding their future. They hear the voice of others – friends, family, father, and other familiar voices – but they absolutely need to get on their knees and hear the voice of their Heavenly Father and discover His purpose and His plan for their lives.
This was also very evident while in Ohio a week ago and spending a full day with a young man I am discipling and mentoring. As we drove around looking at the countryside and enjoying a sunny day – as well as viewing the devastation of a tornado that ripped through his town the night before – we spoke of many things during our five hours together. However, looking back all of them dealt with this idea of “vocation” or knowing the voice of God in life so as to become all that you were designed to be and being the best you that you can be. Then, add to that, the call on each life to do a certain thing for the Lord. Vocation!
The problem with many today is that they literally think more of “vacation” then they do their “vocation” and thus live for their day off, long-weekends, and annual weeks away to relax and unwind. Yet, in spite of having so much they are still unfulfilled and seeking more and more to fill the inner emptiness and the void that exists for meaning and purpose, and for self-discovery.
These essential foundational qualities of life can only be found in stillness and silence as we seek God and His vocation or calling on our lives. And, it is unique and different for every one of us – because it arises out of who we are and each and every one of us is unique and different from all others. It is time for believers to take time to discover who they really are “in Christ” and whom God has made them to be so that they can then discover what He is calling them to do with their gifts and abilities.
The world and the Kingdom of God will be changed by those who focus on their vocation and not their vacation or time off work. It is a season when God is calling believers to be who He created them to be and to become world-changers.