Vocation vs. Occupation

The year after college graduation, I moved to our nation’s capital to participate in the first year of the Capital Fellows Program, a program that operates under the umbrella of the National Fellows Initiative, and seeks to prepare the next generation to live cohesive and coherent lives for Christ.

As a part of this program, we spent a lot of time talking and thinking about the concept of vocation and our own individual callings, with the belief that our faith is not merely lived out on Sundays but that we are also meant to work “for the sake of doing a thing that is well that which is well worth doing” (Sayers).

During the fellows year, I decided that I had a pretty decent handle on what that meant, and that it would be relatively easy to go into the work force and demonstrate my passions and my giftings and spend each day really living in Paul’s command in Colossians 3 to work for God.

Like most notions as they transition from abstract to reality, my ideas of vocation became a lot harder to sustain once I actually was faced with the opportunity to implement them.

Today, I came across an article at RELEVANT magazine which expressed my thoughts about living in this tension of calling and reality:

A few years ago, I was struggling with the two—occupation and vocation. I sensed my heart was leading me to live with reckless abandon, to pursue my dreams and passions, while my mind was telling me to live with careful reservation, pursuing a responsible and stable life in preparation for marriage. I was worried I was facing a crossroads in my life, and I was, quite frankly, anxious about “selling out.”

…Maybe it’s not a bad thing to struggle with the concepts of occupation and vocation. Maybe the real tragedy is in not struggling at all—in flaking out on your responsibilities for the sake of your “calling” or compromising your dream for the sake of security. Maybe those of us who don’t lose sleep over the idea of calling and living responsibly are indeed missing out.


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