Sidebar – Understanding Christian Vocation

Sidebar – Understanding Christian Vocation

Poor Wally is tired, I bet.

He was lamenting a bit that his various vocations kept him pretty busy this week and were preventing him from carrying out his vocation of Christian Blogger Extraordinaire ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can relate.

There was a time when I desired (uh-oh!) to enter into full-time church work. I was so involved in the various ministries of our church that I began to desire to be able to devote myself to it full time. I thought of it as my real work, far more important than my normal 9 to 5 desk job. I wanted to be a deaconess! I enrolled in Concordia Seminary to study and was ready to go, but in the end I didn’t. That’s a whole other long story, but what it basically came down to was God saidno” to my plans.

I struggled with that for a long time. I was truly heartbroken by it. Lord, I want to serve you! Are you rejecting me? Am I not fit to serve?

I had been so sure that the desire in my heart was a holy one! That God Himself had created the desire to serve Him in this way. And realizing that He didn’t really threw me for a loop. If I couldn’t trust what I thought to be a God-given desire, what could I trust?? How could I have been so wrong? And if I couldn’t trust any of this, how could I ever figure out what God’s plan for me, personally, would be? I felt lost.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was a traumatic event in my life. I can’t explain why it affected me so deeply, but it did. It took me a couple of years to mourn and come to terms with it. Until my husband had his affair, it was the single most traumatic event in my life and the sense of loss was hard to accept.

Towards the end of my “mourning period”, I happened to be doing a lot of study on Luther’s theology of the Cross, which is closely connected to – of all things – his doctrine of Christian vocation.

Just as a side note, the “theology of the Cross” and the doctrine of vocation are probably the two teachings that have most influenced my thinking on the Christian life. I continue to draw heavily on the insights I learned from them, but coming across the stuff on vocation in my time of mourning/questioning did more than all the other healing combined, in helping me come to terms with “my loss”. I think it’s fair to say that meditating on Luther’s understanding of vocation – he has some wonderful, little known insights – was instrumental in finally healing my pain and doubts. He beautifully unfolded God’s word for me in a way that helped me make sense of my life again.

You know that saying, “once you see it, you can’t unsee it”? That’s what it’s like. The insights I drew from these teaching profoundly affected how I understand the Christian life; they have become the “lens” through which I approach the Scriptures and Christian piety.

But as important as it has become to me, I’ve never been able to articulate it well. I’ve tried to write about it at least a half a dozen or so times, but everything I’ve started has either ended up in the trash folder or is currently sitting unfinished in my drafts folder. ๐Ÿ˜•

Looking online for some inspiration, I came across this helpful summary of the doctrine of vocation and, rather than re-summarize it for you, I thought I’d simply just share it. He explains it much better than I ever could.

If you have 20 minutes to spare, give it a look. I guarantee you will look at your vocation in a whole new light!

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7 thoughts on “Sidebar – Understanding Christian Vocation

  1. I have not watched the video yet, but will when I have wifi. Thanks for the mention first and the pingback. I actually so understand what you just said in many ways. I actually came to first understand it around 8 years ago when I was still pretty mad that I lost my nice white collar job and now had to work with trucks, tools, houses and dirt. I was pretty steamed about that until He made me understand that..”Hey, do you realize how many people I just put you in contact with every day?” That sort of cleared that up for me. I have also prayed often about the subject of some full time ministry, but as of yet that has not come to be, and I suspect at this point, it is not to be. He has, however, given me a different position withing the place I worked that even thought it takes a lot of hours they are more free hours than before. In other words, it’s not hard for me to take time here and there to do things he wants me to do. So, He is working things out. He never promised to make it easy, did He?

    Last little note, and I was not going to say anything to many, but I guess I will now, as it seems to fit. I may actually get to write in an official capacity in the near future. The Editor in Chief of our literature printing ministry has asked me to submit some devotional type writings, and is considering me for a place on the small team that does our Daily Devotional Quarterly. That’s actually pretty exciting as literally thousands read that every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, you write well, too. I like how you broadside your readers with facts (like the affair, which I’m sorry to hear about).
    Second, vocation, vocation, vocation has been top of mind for years (as you know from reading posts in which I mentioned wanting to edit a magazine) but even more so lately because I’m working with a manager who’s a talented photographer. He has his own studio, wants to do photography full time, and knows God gave him the gift of photography. His website mentions that he and his wife base their business on a Genesis scripture. I told him that, yes, God gave him that gift, but God gave him other gifts, too. I said his grounded and friendly presence is needed in that store to balance out other personalities.
    It’s a shame that you’d never know he’s a Christian if you didn’t visit his website. Unlike people with a Jesus fish on their bumper and a cross dangling from their neck, he’s the most Christian person I’ve met.
    I stumbled upon this TED Talk a few weeks ago and thought I’d share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKlx1DLa9EA

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    1. Yes! I saw that talk recently as well! It really resonated with me because the reality is ALL our gifts are to be used as “God’s hands and feet” in service to our neighbour – not just the subset of gifts that we happen to like the best. Rather than ask oneself “what work makes me happy?”, better to ask “how can I serve my neighbour best?”.

      To be perfectly honest, I’m not terribly vocal about my Christianity either. I mean, I don’t go around denying Christ or anything, I just don’t really talk much about my beliefs unless it comes up. (It’s a Canadian thing, lol) But I do try really, really hard to remember that I am Christ’s love ambassador in all my interactions with others, and that serves to guide how I respond to others around me. It’s not perfect of course – I don’t always get it right, and there is always more that I could do – but it’s a pretty solid starting place.

      That’s why I don’t mind mentioning the affair (sorry I blindsided ya!) as it taught me a LOT about patience and sacrifice and loving even when it’s hard, and those lessons have spilled over into all the part of my life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it sucked big time…but I can see how it shaped me, made me a better person to others, and I have no regrets. Hard as it was, I needed to learn those lessons.

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      1. I have my mom’s good traits and my father’s bad traits, so even though “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” forgiving an affair isn’t something I could do — especially with grace — so you’re a better woman and Christian than I am.

        As for being vocal about being a Christian, it’s better to just be a Christian and do what God wants you to do (i.e., love) than to tell people you’re a Christian and continue to swear and say God ruined your life (like me. Sorry, but he did. He took me out like Job).

        It’s interesting that we both saw that TED Talk recently considering how old it is. Must be a reason for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I swear like a sailor. Just not so much on the blog. Profanity does the bother me all that much…sometime you need a profane word to describe that which is profane. I’m not exactly *advocating* for it….but, meh, I have bigger sins to wrestle with ๐Ÿ˜€

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