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Piper Curda

COMM 494

Dr. Chase

27 November 2018

Vocational Principles for the Future

Before attending Wheaton, I did not know what vocation meant. I had heard the word

before, but never bothered looking further into a definition. In an essay I wrote my freshman

year, I described vocation as the calling on one’s life to use the gifts God has given him or her to

benefit His Kingdom. While I stand by this explanation, it only scratches the surface of what I

have learned in my years at Wheaton and how it applies specifically to my own life. In the last

few years, I have learned that not only is vocation about the ways I am called to serve the

Kingdom but also the ways in which I am called to serve others and how I must work to integrate

the two even in careers considered to be secular.

James K. A. Smith (2016) encourages us not to reduce vocation to simply pursuing what

God wants for us but explains that it is even more so about pursuing God himself and “pursuing

God in our work” (p. 187). This sentiment helps to put the idea of vocation in perspective and

explains how one might intentionally coordinate her faith with her work. However, it also tends

to give greater weight to vocation, perhaps greater weight than one can bear. If we only consider

vocation to be the way we pursue God through what God wants for our lives, we narrow the

possibilities we might have to reach others through this pursuit.

Gilbert Meilander’s (2006) definition provides a more inclusive, community-oriented

view of vocation when he claims “God calls each of us to some work in life…and uses our work

to serve the needs of many neighbors” (p. 231). If we think of vocation in this way, we are able
to better grasp the necessity of serving others as a part of our definition of vocation. C.S. Lewis

(1949) adds to this, writing that “there is no question of a compromise between the claims of

God and the claims of culture, or politics, or anything else. God’s claim is infinite and

inexorable…yet in spite of this it is clear that Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary

human activities” (p. 47). By this, Lewis further emphasizes that God’s calling on our lives does

not necessarily exclude all things secular.

In fact, I believe that by limiting ourselves solely to the exposure of the spiritual, we are

missing out on a crucial tool for serving God’s kingdom—identification. If I am unable to

identify with those around me, who may not be Christians, it will be harder for me to reach them

with the gospel or communicate the good Word to them. This is a leading principle that has

encouraged me while attempting to enter into a career that is predominantly secular. I have

always wanted to be an actress, and it is what I hope to pursue after graduation. However, I am

acutely aware that the entertainment industry is not saturated with Christianity. Even so, I am so

passionately confident that God created me with the purpose to be an actress that I am able to

perceive this as an opportunity to enter into a space where God may not be known well and make

him known. This would be nearly impossible to do if I did not have some semblance of

knowledge of the more severely secular things in life.

While, in my opinion, I think being aware of things that are of the world is imperative to

understanding vocation, I also think one must be careful not to lean too far to that side. Lewis

(1949) expresses a similar caveat when saying that an intellectual life may be our true calling,

but “it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested” and warning us of

the possibility that “we may come to love knowledge—our knowing—more than the thing

known” (p. 50). In other words, we may feel our true calling is in a secular field, and that is okay
so long as we do not come to love the secularity of it more than the ordaining God has placed on

it for us. In order to avoid falling into the trap of narrowing our view too much towards the

secular or too much towards the spiritual, we have to work to integrate the two. Smith assures us

that this can be done by, no matter what career pursued or vocation called to, making sure to

“immerse ourselves in rituals and rhythms and practices whereby the love of God seeps into our

very character and is woven into not just how we think but who we are” (p. 187). Even if

someone is entering into a job that seems as far from Christ-oriented as possible, I believe it is

absolutely possible to fulfill God’s purpose by making sure to intentionally include Him in these

activities or pursuits.

Vocation is important—that is something I am sure of. Even so, it is difficult to define.

Even after three years of considering what my particular definition for it may be, I still do not

think I could give a definitive answer. However, I do know the central tenets to which I will

always try to adhere to when considering my vocation: I will always seek to serve the Kingdom

in whatever I do; I will always seek to serve others in whatever I do; I will always seek not to

neglect either.
Resources

Lewis, C. S. (1949). Learning in war-time: A sermon preached in the Church of St. Mary the

Virgin, Oxford, Autumn, 1939. The weight of glory and other addresses (43-54). New

York: The Macmillan Company.

Meilander, G. (2006). Leading lives that matter: What we should do and who we should be.

Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Smith, J. K. A. (2016). You are what you love: The spiritual power of habit. Grand Rapids, MI:

BrazosPress.