Understanding Vocation

At our last staff we examined one of the Biblical “Threads” from the book Transformation by Design, a publication we are using developed by a team at the National Institute for Christian Education. The Thread we were unpacking was “Understanding Vocation”. We used it in our staff devotions as it applies to each one of the staff at Rehoboth. It also relates to every parent, whether in paid employment or raising their children at home, and to students, whose current job is to learn, study and “do” school.

I will quote you the blurb at the beginning of the page:

God is a worker and, in our work, we can reflect our Creator. God worked for six days and then He rested. After the Fall, work became hard labour and drudgery – but God didn’t leave us to toil in vain. He provided work as a blessing and not a curse; a means to be productively engaged in developing His creation so that all can flourish.

God calls each to work hard at discovering a sense of vocation through understanding gifts, making healthy choices, taking hold of opportunities, and recognising vocation as a means to serve Him. An understanding of vocation, calling and serving challenges the distorted view that the purpose of school is to prepare them for a job; and incorporates other considerations like rest, vocational changes, an attitude of vocational service, not being limited to an employed job, identifying gift, passions and interests, attitudes and responsibilities, dignity in work, and even joy in work.

When I first started reading this, my thought was “This is the Thread that least resonates with Primary School students”. They aren’t worried about their future jobs. These little ones are still in the dreaming phase about being lion tamers, firemen, ballerinas, and princesses. The world is their oyster and their future lies wide open for them. When I interview new Kindy parents, the top two things these parents want for their children in Primary is for them to be safe and to be happy. They’re not worried about their children’s job status… yet.

Something happens as these children grow older. Suddenly the sand shifts under us as parents. In our hearts we know what we want for our children – we want them to know Jesus and spend eternity with the Father. We don’t necessarily want to care what they “do” for a job as long as they are glorifying God. But our mouths often reflect our heads and not our hearts. Our lofty and holy ideals are not always in the reality of how we actually speak into their lives at this critical juncture.

I know this has been something that has constantly challenged my husband and I as we parented our four children through the career finding phase of their lives. I know that I don’t want my children to be lazy. I don’t want them to take the easy road. I don’t want them to be in jobs where they are suffocated and not able to flex their gift muscles. I don’t want them to be working 9-5 just to survive. I want them to thrive. But where does God and eternity fit into this?

I love these ideas that challenge us to think about work. I think it’s a good opportunity, as parents and older students, to have some time of self-reflection and maybe even some repentance. What is my chief goal in life? Will I introduce my boss to Jesus? What will success look like for me? Will I take opportunities that God presents me? Will I look at finding a healthy work/life/family balance? Will I be available to my co-workers to answer the deeper questions they have about life? Will I aim to find Shalom in my work? How can I reflect my Creator in my work?

Whom will I serve?

“Serve whole heartedly, as if serving the Lord, not people”  Ephesians 6:7

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