«Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called» (l Corinthians 1:26).
A VOCATION is a divine calling to carry out a mission. For Paul, it is the answer to the Lord’s call and the motivation that the person feels, coming from God, to press ahead with a religious life. So is vocation the call to do a one-time job or is it something that lasts a lifetime? Is it a private matter, limited to our professional context, or is it complete and comprehensive?
Some understand vocation to be the inclination to be a pastor or a religious minister. But Paul was not only referring to pastors, but also to all the brethren considering their vocation regardless of their office, work, or occupation. All believers have, or should have, their vocation.
Since the vocation is God’s call, every believer has a vocation as a missionary son or daughter of God.
A vacation, meanwhile, is a temporary suspension from work, studies, or other usual activities. If we are not involved in a vocation, then we are on vacation. It is as J. Packer says:
«Our highest and most privileged vocation is to do God’s will in God’s strength for God’s glory» (J. Packer).
For example, what was Joseph’s or Daniel’s vocation? Was it as rulers? Or did their life vocation stand out optimally while they exercised their roles, as children of God?
Vocation is not what I do from time to time, Sabbath mornings at church, or at some isolated time when I bear witness to my faith. For Paul, vocation is both the call and the passion that directs and envelops our being at all times and in every place.
I spent my first eighteen days of life in a hospital, and when I was discharged it was because the doctors told my parents that medicine could not do anything for me anymore. They had to take me home to die. My parents prayed all the way home, in their own way: «If You save our son, when he is older, we will dedicate him to You.» God miraculously healed my lung problem and saved my life. That is why I always feel like I am a debtor with a borrowed life.
I was told this story after I told my parents I wanted to be a pastor. Then they told me what God had done for me. God called me to this undeserved and sacred pastoral vocation, and by His grace I have now been a pastor for more than four decades. I embrace the vocation with gratitude for the rest of my life.
If your vocation is on vacation, the time is up today.
Receive the apostle’s plea to believers as God’s plea to you, and live your life worthy of the vocation to which you have been called