From the foundations of the scriptures we see that human was created in th image of God and given a job description to create culture (Gen 1:26-28). Even deeper is the idea that the word for work in Genesis 2 (‘abad) can also be translated worship. Our work is actually our worship.
Now we see from the life of Jesus that he fully understood with pinpoint accuracy why he had come to earth. Mark 1 opens with Jesus on the scene and it is says, “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus came with this amazing news that the kingdom of God was here, a kingdom that many Jews were waiting to be reestablished for hundreds of years.
With this message also came demonstration. Near the end of Mark 1 Jesus is in Capernaum and he is healing people and casting out demons. Things are going well. So well the crowds are coming to him and you get a sense there is excitement in the hearts of the disciples. It is easy to imagine that this is where the disciples want to set up shop. This is where they could start the mega church. James could start the website. Peter could lead the kids ministry. Andrew could do follow up and the disciple Thaddeus could easily lead a rocking band.
So with this excitement in their hearts they come to Jesus and say, “Everyone is looking for you!” (vs 37). In essence they are saying, “Jesus. We have to do this. The people need you.” And listen to how Jesus responds. He says, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (vs 38).
Do you see it? Jesus says, “No!” Wait a second. What?! Yes. Read it again if you want. Jesus says, “No!”
Jesus said no because Jesus knew exactly what he was called to do and in return he knew exactly what he was not called to do. He knew why he had come to earth. Jesus knew his calling.
The question for us is do we know what we are called to do? The word vocation is not found in the bible. There is no scripture and verse but there is this prevailing idea that each and every single one of us should discover and work towards our particular calling in life.
Before we go any further it must be pointed out that we live in a broken world. Work is good and redemptive but we also know that because of the curse (Gen 3) work can be very hard. Many of us have a particular calling but it is not what we do to provide for our needs financially. We live in the tension of vocation and providing for our family at the same time. Paul goes as far to say, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim5:8). This is the reality we live in and we must not be naïve to our present context. Someone anonymous once said, “A musician puts $5000 worth of music gear in a $500 car to drive 100 miles to get paid $50.”
With that said there is also the adventure of discovering our vocation. What are we called to do? John Mark Comer says a vocation is a, “Calling from God to work that fits you, helps others and glorifies God.” In his book Let YourLife Speak, Parker Palmer says, “The word vocation itself is rooted in the Latin for ‘voice.’ Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.”
As Christians we have a dual location. We are called to take the creation project forward and all of us are called to help humanity towards a relationship with the creator God. So what are you called to do to see the creation project move forward? We believe the best way to work towards an answer is by asking some important questions. Here are five important questions when it comes to vocation:
• What are you good at?
• What are you passionate about?
• What are the needs in your world?
• What are the open doors in your life?
• What are others saying?
The diagram below shows the importance of living in our vocation/calling combined with the necessity to provide for our needs and the needs of our family. For many of us it may be unrealistic at this point to be in a vocational career (paid vocation) but many of us may take some risks over the coming years and do what Dr. Gerry Breshears says, “Do what you love and see if you can make a living at it.”
As Jesus is living in his final moments on the cross it says, “Knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-30).
Our prayer is that at the end of our lives we would be able to stand before Jesus and say the work we have done in this current age has been accomplished. Whether or not we are in a paid vocation we pray that we would discover what we are called to do. What has God called you to do to join him in moving the creation project forward? As Parker Palmer would say, “What is the calling you hear from your life?” and can you live out that calling and make a living? Let’s discover together!