Vocation is derived from the Latin word “vox” or “voice” (translated into Greek as “call”) and so we take the broadest view of things: Vocation is one’s entire life lived in response to God’s voice, God’s call. ~ Kate Harris
As part of the class I’m auditing this week at Knox Seminary, God at Work: The Reformation and Vocation, we’re asked to write a 500 word statement about what vocation means to us, so I thought I’d share part of mine here. I’m excited about digging deeper into the topic this week with my fellow classmates.
About a year and a half ago, someone I followed on Twitter shared the link to Kate Harris’ talk on defining vocation at the Q Women and Calling Conference, and I watched the video. It truly was life changing for me. It was the “aha” moment that took vocation from being merely my occupation, and gave me freedom to think more broadly. In the video, Kate (using calling and vocation as synonymous terms) says, “Calling is mostly about identity and belonging. It’s a word about who we are and to whom we belong rather than what we do.” I’ve watched the video multiple times, and every time a nugget sinks in deeper, encouraging me.
The timing of watching this video was God ordained, as I have been struggling the past few years with my job. Not because I wasn’t skilled at what I did or hated it, but because I felt very pigeon holed by it. I’ve been working in jobs related to computers/database management/partner service for the past 25 years or so. I knew it was God’s hand that opened up the doors for me in these roles and, outside of the stress that comes with every job at times; I enjoyed and found value in what I was doing. I’m good at it. But as I got older, I really felt boxed in. Hearing people tell me, “Oh, I could never stare at spreadsheets all day like you do, it would drive me crazy,” made me feel one-dimensional. It wasn’t what I did all day, it certainly wasn’t all of who I was, and I was frustrated. I started to think that I had to change jobs, do something different, because my job should reflect more than just one aspect of me.
Then I heard Kate’s talk and it blew open the walls of the box for me. It made me see that my occupation wasn’t my vocation, but only one aspect of it. And it helped me start to explore the broader “themes” that carried across my life, which I’ve found to be connectedness and responsibility. In her article “The Heart of Vocation,” Kate says “This broad view of vocation frees us to trust, so we can take up this calling across the varied dimensions of life and season.” This pretty much sums up the freedom a true understanding of vocation gives to me.
This broader understanding of vocation has been the most freeing, life giving idea to come into my life, second only to an understanding of law and gospel, Christ’s finished work for me.