Vocation is a word that will occasionally get thrown around in our current culture, but it is also one that has lost the significance of its meaning. Vocation literally means a “calling.” It comes from the Latin word vocatio and speaks to God’s calling in the life of a Christian.
This calling happens in a variety of spheres from the workplace to the neighborhood to the home. And because of that the way that calling is played out in the life of one believer is often significantly different than the calling of another.
One aspect of our callings as Christian is the calling we have to fulfill the Great Commission. When we talk about the Great Commission, we commonly think of the call to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Robert Kolb and Charles Arand, two incredible theologians, suggest that when it comes to vocation we should consider two great commissions.
The First Great Commission
When God creates humanity, he gives an important vocation to the man.
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26
The first calling is to manage the created world, to care for it, serve it, and protect it.
In the Genius of Luther’s Theology Arand and Kolb suggest, "They take up their vocations as places of service to others, where they can live as human beings according to God’s design.” The vocation of every Christian is to serve within the places that God has placed them. The calling of the Christian is to serve their neighbor.
And in this calling it isn’t about proselytizing.
The serving of the neighbor isn’t a means to an end. The needs of the neighbor is the end. The vocation is to love, serve, and care for all that God has created. It is the unique calling of the Christian that often does not look distinctly Christian, but that does at the same time witness to the beauty and love of the Creator God.
The Second Great Commission
The second Great Commission is the one that is popularly referred to.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20
The calling of the Christian in this world is to be disciple-makers. We are called to make disciples in the spheres in which God has placed us in this world. It is similar to the first great commission in that it takes place out of love for neighbor and exists for the sake of neighbor, but it is unique in that it seeks to address specifically the spiritual realities of that individual and not simply meet physical needs.
In light of the second Great Commission, our vocations become opportunities for mission in which we carry out the task of making disciples.
Parents not only protect and care for their children, but parents make sure that there children grow up as disciples of Jesus. Husbands not only provide for their wife, but they seek to speak God’s word to their wife. Neighbors not only want to act neighborly and be a good friend, but they want to have opportunities to share the Gospel with their neighbors.
Because we each have unique mission assignments, our vocations should be an opportunity to share the Good News with the people we are in relationships with using the gifts, passions, and desires that God has given each of us.