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Our English word, vocation is derived from the Latin verb, vocare – which means “to call.” The Latin noun, vocation – means “calling.”

Today – we have directly linked this word to work. In today’s language, someone’s vocation is their job. We have “vocational training” programs in schools and colleges. These programs are usually designed to teach someone a skill or trade (welding, carpentry, auto mechanics, sewing, etc.) so that the student becomes employable.

However, in the original meaning of the word, “vocation” – there was a sense of calling attached to it. Theologians have used this work for centuries to refer to the calling of God on a person’s life. I think we need to re-claim this idea with regard to our individual understanding of our work. This is one essential piece of our theology of work.

Vocation – has at least two meanings:

  1. Primary calling – our primary calling is to God Himself. In other words, we are called to know God and experience the life He is offering us. There are numerous Biblical passages that refer to the calling of God to know Him and follow His path as revealed through Jesus Christ.
  2. Secondary calling – our calling to serve the purposes of God. God has invited us to participate in His great work. In fact He has marked out a course for us as run the race (Hebrews 12:1-2) and He has prepared works for us so that we might serve Him effectively (Ephesians 2:10).

Our individual jobs are the opportunities we have to live out our vocational calling. For example, you may sense God’s calling in your life to serve others as a dominant sense of direction. You may choose to work a multitude of jobs in the service industry (waiter, plumber, flight attendant, hotel employees). The jobs themselves are where your vocation meets reality.

As Christians, we need to develop the perspective that all of us are called to God into a personal relationship with Him and we are called to serve His kingdom interests. While we believe that God calls some people to ministry who will serve the church for their jobs, all Christians are called by God to serve in some capacity. His calling is not limited to the full-time Christian worker.

Perhaps a potential conversation between those in the Bible study group may center upon how to connect the individual jobs represented within the group to God’s calling in their lives.