"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches." - 1 Corinthians 7:17
In Luther’s day, he traditionally taught, three primary spheres of calling, usually combining family and work into the same sphere and with the same purpose. Because our culture is one that does not see one’s job as necessarily being only about providing for one’s family but also has a sense of personal fulfillment and significance of its own, I’m use four spheres to think about our callings in this world.
The first calling a person has is the calling to his or her family. We enter the world, called to be a son or a daughter. We grow into a brother or sister, an aunt or uncle, a husband or wife, and father or mother. This is a holy calling with it’s primary purpose being to serve and care for those in the family.
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gives emphasis to the teaching role in the calling of a parent when he suggests, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Work was not intended to be a curse, but it is a part of the way God designed mankind to function. When he created the world, he gave man a job. Work is a blessing from God that because of the fall has been tainted with long hours, stress, and paycuts.
"Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other…Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Many of us are tempted to get caught up in the need for so-called significant work. The dream is to have a job that changes the world, but what we find in the scriptures is less about changing the entire world and more about changing your world.
In loving our neighbor quietly through the work we do, we are doing God’s sacred work.
Not only do we have callings based on our family and our careers, but part of our calling is simply based on geography. Our calling is impacted by the neighborhoods we live in, the school districts we are a part of, the cities we call home, and the country we pay taxes to.
Our calling in these places is once again the same, to love and serve our neighbor.
In our community, our calling begins to take a different shape than some of the other areas we experience calling. Politics often fall into this sphere of calling. We fulfill our Christian calling by serving our neighbor and even by voting for that which is best for our neighbor. In our community, as our kids join sports teams and attend schools, part of our calling might be being a coach that cares about kids in the neighborhood or as a parent who supports and encourages other parents.
The calling to the community, like others is ultimately about love. But unlike the others, it is more based the locations you happen to find yourself in.
Christians are not only called to live out their faith outside of the Church but they are also called to live out their faith within the context of the church family. Christians need other Christians. The Church needs people using their gifts in order to help the Church function.
And while every Christian is called to love their neighbor in a local congregation, they are not necessarily called to love their neighbors in the same way or for the same amount of time. Because of the other callings of a Christian, this calling may be impacted… this isn’t bad, it’s just the reality. A mom of young children, will not have as much time to pursue her calling in the church as somebody else.
And not only do we not all have the same capacities, but we have different gifts. And we need different gifts.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
God has called you. And your calling is not a singular calling, but a multi-faceted calling impacting a variety of areas in your life. You are called to your home, to your workplace, to your community, and to your church. And in the midst of those places God has gifted you to serve and to love the people around you in the way that God has uniquely created you to serve.