No, the title does not contain a typo. We are all familiar with the term vacation, but the term vocation is typically less well known. Vocation is a term that describes the different things we do in life and encourages to assign purpose or meaning to them. For example, being a neighbor can be classified as a vocation. This is especially true if you are intentional about being a neighbor and try to do it well. Did you participate in the coordinated Christmas light display your neighborhood organized? Do you shovel your front sidewalk for children or joggers to use even if you don’t? Did you take a meal to someone who is ill or clean up your dog’s mess for the sake of others?
Vocation could be used to describe your profession and the purpose that profession has in contributing to society. (Typically a thief or con artist is not considered a vocation, although it does fit into the broad definition). Your station in life as a parent or child, friend or co-worker is also considered part of your vocation because those roles have an important role in bringing purposes to our world.
All this talk about vocation might cause you to want a vacation, but the real reason we are talking about it is to remember the high value God places on each of our vocations. The world tries to rob us of joy or meaning in our life. We are tricked into comparing our life’s work against others and getting a false sense of pride or embarrassment from those comparisons. God wants us to remember that each and every vocation is valuable and necessary for God’s love to be made manifest in the world.
The origin of the word vocation is the word calling. If you consider your calling in life, you might think of what you really want to do or be. Maybe you want to be an astronaut or have ten children. This can be a calling, but in our Christian faith we are also called by God. Our callings in life, or vocations in life, may be chosen by us or they may be chosen for us. Your vocation might be to fight a terminal illness with faith and dignity or walk alongside someone to help them do so. You probably didn’t choose this vocation; it chose you. You may have chosen to be a neighbor (as opposed to living off the grid), but we don’t often get to choose who our neighbors will be.
Vocation is certainly the calling we sense from within, but vocation is also a greater purpose that God lays over that inner calling. God encourages, challenges and even admonishes as His children to be about our Father’s business just as He lived His life doing the same. When we hear this as law, a “must do or else” type statement, we can become resentful or tired. When we are able to see the vocations we find ourselves in as a gift from God, an opportunity to be His blessing in a difficult situation, we approach the same situations with different purpose.
This Epiphany season we are encouraging one another to unlock the joy of living that God desires for each of us. A piece to unlocking that joy is hearing God call to you, His good and faithful servant, to fulfill His purposes and plan for good to be brought to each and every person in each and every circumstance. In order to do that God is calling you to be a light in the place you are uniquely positioned to shine!