God invites you to do and be your very bestPublished 9:37am Friday, June 28, 2013
By the Rev. Mark Boorsma
Ascension Lutheran Church
Imagine you are asked, “What is your vocation?” You might respond by telling about the job at which you work, or the particulars of your employment. The word vocation comes from a Latin word that means a summons or an invitation. That noble origin suggests that your work is far more than whatever you must do for a paycheck.
To speak of vocation is to hint at an inviter, whom the great religious traditions call God. What constellation of interests and skills come together uniquely in you so as to suggest that God created you for a particular life purpose? What do you so sincerely love to do, that you would be thrilled to do it even if nobody paid you? What comes to mind when you hear Frederick Buechner’s definition: “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need”?
Blessed is the person whose vocation — that divine call to be and do your best — is crystal clear. For the rest of us, vocation might not be so obvious, with no inner voice prompting us to pursue any specific line of work. Two tools for discerning your vocation are to ask questions and listen deeply. Your friends and family often can tell what activities bring you the most joy, which accomplishments bring you the greatest satisfaction, and what you most clearly love to do. Ask them, and be open to their observations!
Unlike a party or a wedding for which you are only sent one invitation, vocation can involve dozens of mysteriously inviting clues, cast like a breadcrumb trail along your path of life. If you miss or ignore one or two of the clues, don’t worry; more of these subtle invitations will appear as you journey forward. Experiment with work you think you might enjoy, and be willing to explore detours. Along the way, you have an unseen companion whose love for you knows no limits and whose compassion stands ready to pick you up when you fall.
Even those retired from work can be fully engaged in vocation. In retirement, clarity about what God is calling you to do today yields greater daily satisfaction. For example, I well remember and appreciate the seasoned wisdom and imaginations of my Sunday school teachers, almost all of whom were retirees. Instead of thinking of themselves as done working, they continued to pursue their interests as labors of love.
In your quest for true vocation, you are searching for more than just the drudgery of toil. You seek that better path where who you are and what you do can be a deep source of joy for you and your community. God invites and calls you to be and to do your very best. Enjoy the journey!