Talkin’ About Re: Vocation

The Barefoot WayOne of the speakers at the recent Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity conference — and one who I’m looking forward to seeing at Wild Goose Festival this coming week — was Dori Baker, who also happens to work for the Fund for Theological Education.

Dori has written a fabulous new book called The Barefoot Way that invites youth and young adults (and the people who walk with them) to “spend 10 minutes a day [for 21 days] tending your soul.” In that sense, it’s a 21-day devotional that creates space for readers to kick off their shoes and stand on the holy ground of personal stories — other people’s stories and their own stories.

One of my favorite parts of this little book is the notion of “the larger story” of our lives being about our vocation or calling. Dori uses the word vocation intentionally, and she defines it as “the cluster of activities that give one’s life purpose and meaning.” She also says, “Vocation is the practice through which people offer their lives in response to God’s call, amid a world in need.” So vocation is about our actions, how we engage God’s mission in the world.

“[Vocation is] finding the purpose for your life that is part of the purposes of God.” —Walter Brueggemann

I really think it’d be helpful if more of us would use this language of vocation for the personal (the individual) and reserve the language of mission for God (the universal). Clearly the two intersect in important ways, but the larger circle is always God’s, not ours. As Dori writes, “[Our] dreams overlap with God’s dream for the world. Out of such reflection will flow action — works of justice, care, and compassion that just might renew the church and change the world.”

What do you think about this idea of distinguishing between vocation (personal/us) and mission (universal/God)? Is it helpful? still confusing?


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