What does the Bible say about Calling & Vocation?
On average, one third of your life will be spent at work. That's 90,000 hours over the course of an average lifetime. God has a lot to say about your calling and vocation because a huge chunk of your time on earth is spent there.
Instead of dragging ourselves out of bed on a Monday morning, eager for a cup of coffee and already longing for five o'clock to hit, I think God has a greater vision for what our work lives are supposed to look like.
That sense of dread often comes when we don't see God's purpose in the mundane moments. I believe God wants more for us than this.
So, what does the Bible say about calling and vocation?
The Bible has a lot to say about this topic because our callings and vocations have a big impact on both our own spirits and also on the world around us.
A lot of people differentiate between callings and vocations. Calling feels like a highly spiritual word. It is something that has a divine purpose, one that involves being called by your Creator to a specific work set before you (1 Corinthians 7:17).
Vocation is often thought of more in the Monday morning way, or as the coffee shop job where you have a W-2.
I actually don't think they're all that different. Parker J. Palmer wrote,
"That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for "voice." Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear."
Although there's a lot of Christian dialogue around both calling and vocation often as separate entities, I think they're deeply intertwined. The above definition essentially defines a vocation as a calling.
Here's the bottom line: both require hearing and obeying the voice of God.
When I think about this topic and a theology on work, I think about the parable of the talents. It's familiar to many of us, but to revisit it read the full parable here: Matthew 25:14-30.
God is like an investor. He gives talents to each of us according to our ability. The initial instruction comes in the very beginning: invest for him. (v.14)
When the investor gives to three different people in this parable, the first two come back with a return on his investment. But the last one is the one who gets our attention. He says, "‘Sir, I knew you were a hard man, and I was afraid you would rob me of what I earned, so I hid your money in the earth and here it is!’ (v. 24-25)
The investor responds by essentially saying, you knew I would hold you accountable for what I had given you, and you chose to hide it and avoid all risk. In doing this, the man hid the talent, and was seen by the investor as someone who couldn't be trusted anymore.
Here is what I want you to understand about calling and vocation today:
God has already invested in you
He has given you gifts, talents, abilities, and life so that you can be a part of advancing His kingdom on earth. I can't tell you specifically what you're supposed to be doing in this season, but I know that starting with the same three words in that parable is a great start: invest for Him.
Jesus is coming back and He expects a ROI
We are meant to be bringing heaven to earth. Every investment we make should reflect that. That means diligently working as if for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). Everything God has given you is meant to be shared. It's tempting to dig a hole and hide those things, but we all can read that parable and understand that hiding doesn't bring an increase. Consider what you might have buried today, and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you to invest it instead.
Vocation & Calling are Relational
You might read this passage and see it as a business transaction. It feels a little bit like this investor is a bit harsh–leaving the work up to these men He invested in, asking for a return, and then coming back to judge them.
But vocation & calling are not transactional, they're relational.
They require abiding in the Father and listening to His voice. When Jesus left, He left us with the gift of His Spirit (John 14:26). He left us with a guide because He is a relational God. He desires to continually invest in us in the same way a diligent mentor continually champions and believes in you.
He is deeply involved in the process of growing a relationship with us while we pursue Him. We will spend a lot of time at work in our lives. So let's make it count by investing for Him.