Matthew 10:5–15, 1 Corinthians 15:1–8, Ephesians 3:8–14
What is your mission? What is your calling?
In the Christian world, these can be powerful questions. If we let ourselves get wrapped up in them, they can bring us down. However, if we don’t see, or choose not to see that we have a calling, then we have a different issue. There are two words that are almost used interchangeably: vocation and calling.
Merriam-Webster defines them as:
vocation: (1) a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action, especially a divine call to the religious life; (2) the work in which a person is employed [occupation]
calling: (1) a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence; (2) the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
We can see that dividing them, by definition, is difficult. Part of it is, oddly, religious tradition. Others will say that one receives (or discerns) a calling and then joins as a vocation.
Perhaps (not to confuse the issue), we should think of the calling as God’s nudge in our life with certain parameters. Then vocation becomes the occupation by which we fulfill the calling. Defining vocation and calling this way allows us to recognize our giftings, while not (necessarily) defining how we use them.
The 11 original Apostles were called. Some became religious/organization leaders (vocation), while others were…actually, we don’t know. The starting point of their vocation was to reach the descendants of Israel. They were not to go to the Gentiles. It seemed, on the outset, that this was exclusionary.
Paul had a calling to teach and lead. His initial vocation was to harass the young church. Then he had a transforming encounter with Christ, and his vocation was transformed. The call was the same.
We are all called to be children of God. We are all called to be bearers of the light into the world of darkness. The vocation is ours to live the call out.
1) We often confuse vocation with career. Why do you think that is?
2) What do you think the difference is between career and vocation?
3) Why is it important to separate call from vocation?
4) Paul’s story shows that vocations can change. Is it time for you to find or change your vocation?