Dodge: What is Your Vocation?

By Kevin Dodge (email)

Probably like most of you, I really like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Two not-so-bright hobbits from the shire set out on a journey of unknown destination, transporting a ring of unknown power to save middle earth from unknown enemies. Sam and Frodo have no idea what they’re getting themselves into as they’re departing. But, they go, and experience amazing things. The simple sometimes do a great service for the world by not overthinking things.

One of the reasons I like the Lord of the Rings is it possesses the two key elements that every great story has – moral development and destiny. Every great story has characters with free will that develop by (hopefully) overcoming obstacles. Yet, great stories almost also have a sense of destiny to them as well. The problems the characters encounter often can’t be solved on their own. It’s almost like there’s a rope pulling the characters toward the ultimate consummation that works independently of their wills. In great stories, destiny and free will go hand in hand.

This is like our lives which are also great stories. We all have free will and have the need to develop moral character. We’ve all made bad mistakes, harbor embarrassing secrets and have experienced pain, both physical and emotional. (If this hasn’t been your experience yet, just wait, it’s coming).

At the same time, we usually have a sense of purpose about our lives. In the church, we refer to this as vocation. Vocation comes from the Latin word “vocare” which means to call.

What’s your calling? A calling is more than a job, a set of tasks or duties that you perform or a paycheck. A calling is about destiny. You’ve found your calling when your free will marries a sense of purpose invested in a cause greater than yourself.

I have a suspicion that most of us have a pretty good idea what our vocations are. The problem is that following a call always entails risk and serious struggle. We’re plagued with the idea that we might really like doing something, but taking it to the next level would require a degree of commitment that is going to cost us money, time, relationships and reputations. Our whole lives we’re taught to seek safety. But God is not as concerned with our comfort and safety as he is with our sanctity.

The fact is that scores of Christians have at least a vague idea what it is that God wants them to do, but they just don’t do it because it’s too hard or scary. To be clear, your vocation can be a lucrative job as easily as it could be a call to be a missionary. Your vocation may pay nothing at all. The question is not the task; it’s the mission you’ve been called to perform.

So the burning question is this: do you have the courage to answer God’s call? In my experience, the only truly safe place is saying “yes” to what God has called you to do.

Categories: Between Sundays