We typically talk about “vocations” being our occupations, and while our 9-to-5 jobs certainly are one of our vocations, they are but one of many. Vocation, in the purest sense of the word, means “calling”—a situation where demands and responsibilities are placed upon us. A small list of my vocations include husband, father, public school teacher, neighbor, member at Mountain Park FBC, friend and citizen of the United States. Sometimes we consciously choose our callings— perhaps our jobs or whether we want to get married—other times, we do not—as in our vocations as neighbors and family members.
As a public school educator, my life looks very different currently than it did three months ago. While the months of June and July are a time where I do not have to breach the school doors in search of a classroom to in which to teach, I am learning more and more the truth in the first sentence that I wrote. As a husband to a teacher and a father to a three year old, my summers are a little different than I remember them from my high school or college days. Even though the church gathering on Sunday morning is my only gauge as to what day of the week it is, I find myself not having the free time that I once associated with summer breaks. My other vocations rise to prominence during these balmy months.
Sin disrupts and distorts our multi-vocational life.
On any given day, we are living out an assortment of vocations simultaneously. For many of us, our professional vocation dominates our conscious thought. We are either at work for eight or more hours a day, in commute or worn out from work at home. If we are in a typical American workplace, that probably is where our life is concentrated for almost 50 weeks a year. When our mindset is oriented around our professional jobs, our other vocations such as spouse, parent, friend, local church member, and neighbor get put on the back burner. Vacations are spent trying to “recharge the batteries” for the next extended season of professional work. Relationships can suffer, families are stressed because the father is not home for most of the children’s time awake, and wives are frazzled because husbands are disengaged after driving through rush hour traffic. Women who work are sometimes treated like they are doing a disservice to their children by somehow “neglecting” their vocation of mother. These are just a few examples of how sin disrupts and distorts our multi-vocational life.
You are where you are for a purpose, and God has you in each relationship for a reason. Brothers and sisters, do not fail to see your God-given implication in them all—for God’s glory and the good of those around you.
I am calling myself and you up to a more robust understanding of our lives coram Deo—our lives before the face of God. God, as author of our lives, gives us our vocations. Our calling to work, family, church and community are not accidental—they are from God. So we should not neglect prayerful, Spirit-led efforts to strike a harmonious balance among them that will bring flourishing to our work, family, church and community. Harmony does not mean equal time or energy, nor will harmony look the same to everyone. Even in the life of one person, different life stages and call for wisdom and different structures to promote harmony. For me and many of you, our current stage is married with young children, and this is a challenging stage to create a symphony with all the vocational callings. It has meant that I have had to rearrange previous balances in order to dictate more time and energy to my newly acquired vocation as father. There is no blueprint to prescribe what the perfect balance looks like—it is personal to each family. I, as a man whose other vocations have come to the forefront of life, simply want to encourage you to remember that we are individuals who wear many hats and whose lives are a web of interconnectivity. You are where you are for a purpose, and God has you in each relationship for a reason. Brothers and sisters, do not fail to see your God-given implication in them all—for God’s glory and the good of those around you. May we, in the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, make decisions that promote flourishing in as many of our callings as possible.