Today’s God Thought is going to be brief. Thursday morning is the start of my work marathon. I get 3 hours of sleep, shower, tutor self-defense for 3 hours, get another 3 hours of sleep, work a 10-hour shift, a half hour nap, and a 10-hour shift at my 4th job. Including drive time I work 23 hours in 30 hours’ time every Thursday and Friday.
So… before I throw myself desperately at my pillow, I want to talk a little bit about the idea of vocation. As a vocabulary word, vocation comes from the Latin for calling. I think vocation is something that American Churchianity tends to get very wrong. There is now a multi-million dollar industry about vocation, books on how to find your vocation, self-help seminars to try and tell you what (they think) God wants you do to with your life. People will sell you books, convince you to spend thousands of dollars for short term missionary journeys to do unprofessional levels of work that locals could probably do better for cheaper with a tenth of that amount of money, etc.
It seems to me that the important thing in this industry is to feel like you are doing something that has meaning. No, let me rephrase that: The industry wants to sell you the feeling of meaning in your life.
But is that what God’s Word really says?
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,3 for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. -Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 ESV
and in the New Testament
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV
Before the recent rewording in the ESV translation it was closer to the Greek: “knowing that from the Lord you have received the inheritance the inheritance as your reward…” Another interesting tidbit is that “heartily” here is actually the Greek for “with all your soul”.
The point is that you don’t need to stress out about vocation. Both the Old and New Testament tell you that every day, whatever lies before you, is the mission you have been given from God. Sure, there is nothing wrong with finding a better job, working harder at married life or single life, and trying to do good in your community. All of those are good things, but they are not your vocation. Don’t fall into the trap that the church-ianity industry lays for you that you have to do some incredible study, or quest, or buy the right book to figure out what your vocation is.
Whatever you have to do to today, and I mean whatever God has put in your life to do today, that is your vocation. Whether that is changing your kid’s diapers, or holding a kick pad for an aspiring martial artist, the point of vocation is that God has given you your mission. Did you notice there wasn’t anything in those passages about the fruit you get out of it, or the glory you get out of it?
Whatever you have been given to work today, whether it is digging ditches, doing math homework, writing lines of code, or holding a grandchild with a runny nose, it is all vocation You have a calling from God who has already given you the reward of eternal life.
Aren’t you pretty fortunate? I sure think so.