As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
We don’t hear the language of calling very often in common speech anymore. When I was growing up, I heard people talk about their calling even outside of church, mostly as a way of describing their careers or professions. The question, “What is your calling?” might be answered with “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a carpenter.” You will still hear things like this using the word “vocation,” which is derived from the Latin word for “calling.” Secular educators, for example, speak of the need for young people to develop a “sense of vocation,” which means something like “mission for life.”
I would love to see a renaissance in the use of “calling” and “vocation” language, not only because people need to live with some greater purpose, but also because such language makes a crucial assumption. If you take the word “calling” seriously, if you let “vocation” retain its core meaning, then both of these terms assume the existence of a caller, or a Caller, if you will. If you have a “calling” and not just a “purpose” or “mission,” then this means someone has called you, someone who deserves a response.
Of course, we know that God is the one who calls us. I doubt this truth has surprised you. Yet, I wonder how your life and my life would be different if we took seriously the fact that we are living in response to the call of God. As I think about this at the beginning of a day, I realize that I would approach this day differently if I paid attention to the fact that I have a calling from a Caller. I would see this day, not just as one more day to be lived in ordinary fashion, and not only as a day in which I will make my own choices about how to live, but also as an opportunity to live in consistent, intentional response to the one who has called and is calling me. Today is a time for me to shape my life by the calling that God has given to all Christians. It is a moment for me to live in light of the unique calling God has given me. And it is a chance for me to be attentive to God’s Spirit, who continues to call me into action in God’s mission.
No matter what your agenda is for today, no matter where you work or study or serve or play, may you heed the calling of your Caller, living in response to his voice and purpose.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What difference does it make in your life that you have a calling from a divine Caller? How might you live differently today if you were to take this truth seriously, letting it pervade everything you do today?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for calling me into relationship with yourself. Thank you for calling me into your mission. Thank you for helping me to hear your voice and respond to your calling.
Help me this day, I pray, to live in response to you. May every thought of mine, every choice, every action be a way for me to say “Yes, Lord” to you. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: For an excellent overview of a Christian understanding of calling, see “Vocation Overview” at the Theology of Work Project.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.
The constant noise of the digital age requires us to work that much harder to remain focused on our individual passions and the good work to which God has called us. God wants us to feel passionate about our work because what we do reflects the person we are called to serve—Jesus. Our series, Vocation Focus, will inspire you with stories, Bible reflections, and practical tips. Click now to read more about Vocation Focus.