Vocation, Part Three: Does God Call Us to Particular Jobs?

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Does God call us to particular jobs?

Yes and  no.

Some of us know from an early age what we want to “be” when we grow up. Some of us discover our life’s work when we take a class or volunteer somewhere. Others of us wonder and wander for a long time, trying to find the right thing. For others of us circumstances may cause us to be in a job by necessity, not choice.

Being called to a particular job can be wonderful. Few doubts and a clear path to follow. It is a good feeling to know one is in the right place.  But being called to a particular job is not without problems. It is easy to equate one’s sense of identity and self-worth with one’s job.  Loosing a job is then more that a financial blow, one’s very self is threatened. Knowing you are in the right job may lead to complacency  and  may keep you from seeing other opportunities to love God and neighbor.

Of course not being called to a particular job has its own set of difficulties. Searching for what God wants me to do may cause me to turn all my attention to my concerns and problems. My world can begin to revolve around me and my future.  I run the risk of missing opportunities to serve God right where I am.

This entire idea of being called to a particular career or job is problematic.  Does God call people to refuse collection? Does God call people to work in an office cubicle somewhere? Can I really be called to work at a fast food place?  Or to work third shift at a big box store? What do you think?

I think God may need a person of faith in those places.  Calvin and Luther believed that the particular job was not the important thing. They thought God would and could use people in all situations.

Does God work toward God’s kingdom by having people work in cubicles?  I wouldn’t presume to know exactly how, but I suspect the answer is yes. We have all had, at one time or another, the experience of encountering someone behind a counter or working in a restaurant who did their job with what I can only call joy. The clerk who was genuinely happy you came in the store. The waitress who honestly wanted your meal to be great. The shelf stocker who was glad to stop what they were doing to help you find what you needed.  Did God call that person to that job? Who knows?  But those people are fully present in their workplaces and able to love God and to love their neighbor in that place.

I wonder if it is really about the job, or is it really about who we work for?



cross posted at http://www.truenorthonline.org

4 thoughts on “Vocation, Part Three: Does God Call Us to Particular Jobs?

  1. First of all, this entire series has been interesting. Thanks.

    In terms of being called to a job, I’m not sure that is always true.Granted, it may happen, but as you said, God wants us acting in all places. That’s an essential assignment we have – thus to act on God’s behalf and in the way we would want us to react in all aspects of our life.

    Otherwise, I think of two particular people. One was thinking if they would move from Cincinnati to Michigan b/c of the job opportunity. I recall the spouse telling me she felt called to that area for some reason. Well, they went, and he was laid off about a year later. I must say that I don’t know whatever happened to them for that point.

    Another is a friend here, who was his job about 5 years ago due to downsizing. I’m not sure I buy his “I’ve done what I can, so it’s in God’s hands” approach. God granted him, as well as the previous example, a tremendous amount of free will. Aren’t we accountable for our own actions and decisions we make?

    1. I’m glad you have found this series interesting. I think you are right about free will. Often we tend to discount free will when we talk about vocation and call. The next post addresses some of that.

  2. I do think some of us are called to specific careers. When I was 13 I knew I wanted to be a counselor. However I ended up making bad friends and abusing drugs of every kind. Upon getting away from that lifestyle, I was over whelmed with receiving the knowledge of my calling to be a substance abuse counselor! So some may be skeptical, but I am absolutely certain. It’s really crazy for me when I sit back and look at the GRAND SCHEME of things!

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