Parker J. Palmer
Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about-quite apart from what I would like it to be about-or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.
We get our calling wrong when we imagine that God needs us, to be the hero of our own story, rather than Christ. Second, we routinely misdiagnose the problem of our world, underestimating the brokenness of sin and overestimating our ability to fix things. Third, our witness of God often depicts a Lord who is domesticated to serve our causes . Fourth, a justifiable focus on external problems can easily blind us to the depth of our complicity in the pain of the human condition.
Calls are essentially questions. They aren’t questions you necessarily need to answer outright; they are questions to which you need to respond, expose yourself, and kneel before. You don’t want an answer you can put in a box and set on a shelf. You want a question that will become a chariot to carry you across the breadth of your life.
The combat between God and the Devil for all vocations and orders takes place within every single human being. If God is victor, then that part of external existence which lies within man’s reach is made to serve God. If Satan wins, God’s creation is used in the opposite way. But an office is good, even when it is misused, even as the spear that pierced Christ’s side did not for that reason cease to be God’s good creation. . . . [T]he Devil’s onslaughts consist of temptations to misuse a good and divine office, to mismanage one’s vocation. . . . Temptation in vocation is the Devil’s attempt to get man out of his vocation.
Thus a Christian finds himself called to drab and lowly tasks, which seem less remarkable than monastic life, mortifications, and other distractions from our vocations. For him who heeds his vocation, sanctification is hidden in offensively ordinary tasks, with the result that it is hardly noticed at all that he is a Christian. But faith looks on simple duties as tasks to which vocation summons the man; and by the Spirit he becomes aware that all those ‘poor, dull, and despised works’ are adorned with the favor of God ‘as with costliest gold and precious stones
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.
Gordon T. Smith
So, four questions, each just another way to get at the heart of the matter: What do you want most of all? What matters to you? Where are you at home, in your elemental waters? And what breaks your heart because it breaks the heart of God?
Gordon T. Smith
I can lose my job; I might be released from a position. My career can come to an end when I retire from the organization I work in. But my vocation comes from God; it remains and is not in the end something that I choose or that someone else can give me or take away from me. It comes from God; it denotes my fundamental identity.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
The voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing.
Calling is where our talents and burdens collide. Our talents are our birthright gifts, the gifts that make our hearts sing, come alive. Our burdens are found in our stories, in what breaks our hearts. God was inviting me to use the gifts that made me come alive, to redeem the things that broke my heart.
A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money, or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.
God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.
God has a long track record of calling people the world thinks are lightweights, cowards, or no good and making them great in his service. Who else but God called Gideon to lead the fight against the Philistines? God called Gideon even though Gideon had all the excuses in the world for not heeding the call to fight. He rattled off all excuses in the book. Still, God’s angel called him a ‘mighty man of valor.’ Gideon might have laughed since this description hardly squared with his own perception of himself.
God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.
Draw the Circle
We are made for God: for God’s glory, to worship God and reflect his likeness. That is our heart’s deepest desire, the source of our deepest vocation.
Taken from The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2015 by N. T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our illustrations page on Calling.