By Demi Prentiss, reprinted from Living God’s Mission.
The writer of Ephesians urges us to “walk worthy of the vocation to which you’ve been called.” (Ephesians 4:1) In the midst of daily life, that can be a challenge, especially in our daily work. In a recent blog, Bob Robinson offered six markers that distinguish a “job” from a “vocation.” He thinks the distinction is important.
Robinson founded the non-profit Reintegrate to equip “God’s people to reintegrate the Christian faith with vocation so that they can participate in God’s mission on earth.” He understands “vocation” to be “something bigger, something more meaningful, something that makes us want to get up in the morning.”
Robinson names six distinguishing factors of having a vocation:
- We are responding to a “calling” from a power greater than ourselves.
- We are tapping into our uniqueness, regardless of whether we’re paid for the work.
- We can engage some aspect of that “calling,” wherever we find ourselves.
- We are participating in a mission whose scope is larger than ourselves.
- We are aiming to manifest God’s love in life-giving ways, both large and small.
- We understand our mission to be increasing others’ experience of love at work in the world.
Participating in God’s mission of reconciliation can take many forms, expressing the nature of God whose name is love. Our vocations, sometimes manifested in our occupations, also show up in our home life, our hobbies, our service to others, and our relationship to the wider world:
- While our job might be framing houses, our vocation might be creating homes.
- While our job might be caring for children, our vocation might be shaping young people to be kind.
- While our job might be driving a truck, our vocation might be safely delivering what people need.
- While our job might be mopping the floor, our vocation might be providing clean, safe spaces for people.
- While our job might be writing contracts, our vocation might be assuring fairness for all parties.
- While our job might be serving restaurant meals, our vocation might be feeding the hungry, in body and in spirit.
Each of us, in our daily life and work, can touch the lives of those around us in ways that are liberating and life-giving, whenever we claim our vocation. In some ways, those of us in “ordinary” occupations are positioned to have even greater impact than those who are working as pastors and faith leaders, and not only because there are more of us. Often, seeing God at work through “ordinary” people speaks more clearly to those who are hungry for connection.
Find your vocation: change the world, starting from the inside out.