When you were a little kid growing up, what did you want to be? I dreamed of playing baseball , which later became the dream of being in the NBA. Eventually these dreams disappeared and I found my way into youth ministry. When the topic of vocation comes up, we most often think in terms of a career, but vocation is much bigger than that. The word vocation literally means “a calling.” A person’s vocation is the place that God has called to, which can include but is not limited to a career.
In certain situations it is no surprise to hear words like calling used to described a career, such as when we are referring to pastors and church workers. But other times we rarely hear people referring to their jobs as where God has called them.
When was the last time someone was called to work at McDonalds? The danger for Christians is that it is very easy to fall into the trap of over-spiritualizing God’s calling in certain situations while under-spiritualizing God’s calling for others. Pastors routinely disguise boredom and dissatisfaction with a ministry as “God is leading them in a new direction.” Other times people make choices for their careers based on what they are most passionate about and rarely consider that God has called them to the career they have chosen.
“The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done…The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” - Frederick Buechner
Doctors. Moms. Garbage men. Artists. Grocery baggers. Students. Pastors. All called by God. When is the last time you talked to a barista who you felt was called to serve the best coffee they could make? Finding our calling is not about figuring out the mysterious hidden will of God, but instead figuring out how God has wired us and where he has placed us so we can utilize the gifts he’s given us.
If you are in a church, you are called to that church. If you are a garbage man, you are called to be the best garbage man possible. Now these callings may change in time; you may be led to no longer serve at a particular church or no longer work in a particular career. But the worst thing that you can do in those situations is dishonor your present calling by focusing on your future calling. Your future calling is not holier than your present calling, so how do you honor God in the places that he has put you in right now? How do you be the best student you can be? How do you be the best parent you can be? How do you be the best youth pastor you can be?
Where in your life has God currently called you to serve him?
“The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” – attributed to Martin Luther