Dear People of God at St. Barnabas,
With school starting, I’ve been thinking about vocation. A great definition of this word is “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” Vocation literally means “to call.” You might think about vocal cords and see a connection between hearing a voice call you to a particular kind of work.
As a young adult, I heard author and theologian Frederick Beuchner’s definition of vocation: where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need. By then, I’d wanted to be a pastor for many years. But having grown up in churches that told me that women can’t be pastors, I struggled to believe God would call me to lead a church. It turns out that God’s voice was louder—and more authoritative—than society’s voice.
A couple weeks ago, Bob Eccker told me about his neighbor who works for an airline. There’s a huge shortage of airline mechanics, and Bob thought that I could encourage people to consider that vocation. This was both humbling and exciting to me. I’d just had lunch with a young person going off to college. I think college is right for that person, but I know many young people for whom college is not right. It won’t help them fulfill the calling God has for them.
And that’s why I like that word so much. To me, vocation is about where God is calling us. It’s about how God has gifted us and where God’s voice is leading us. I’m a big proponent of education, but going to college isn’t the only way to be educated. Many trades require a time of focused education. For instance, being an airplane mechanic takes at least 2 years of schooling, requires rigorous testing, and includes internships and on-the-job training. This is true for most trades—trades that are in desperate need of trained and talented workers.
Maybe you’re thinking that vocation doesn’t apply to you; you’re already in a profession you’ve been called to, or you’re retired. Vocation isn’t just for those trying to figure out what to be when they grow up. Vocation—hearing God call us to meet the world’s needs—is for all of us throughout our lives. God calls us to be caregivers or volunteers or kind to a food server. God is constantly calling us to be God’s hands in this world and to find joy in that work. Sometimes we forget to listen, and sometimes we’ve been told not to listen to God’s voice. Sometimes we’ve heard the world tell us that college is the only way to be a responsible adult.
So Bob’s (telephone) call to me has turned into my call to you to listen to God’s call. Is God calling you to consider a new vocation? Is God calling you to be a certain way today or to do a specific thing today? Is God calling you to encourage someone else in a new vocation, a career they never considered. I guess what I’m saying is, listen and trust that God is always speaking to us, calling us where God needs us and where we will find joy. For me, I’ve found that the places God leads me are so much more than I could ever imagine or ask for.
And if that calling, that vocation, includes aircraft technician, there are lots of great schools here in this area. Just ask Bob or me!
With ears to hear and hearts to respond,