St. Stephen Lutheran Church
Your name, your job and your town are the three most common pieces of information you share when you meet someone new. "So, what do you do?" is a question many of us have answered so many times that an answer comes automatically. But perhaps this question has an answer that is only partially about work that you are paid to do.
In a letter to Christians living in the city of Rome nearly 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul reminded his fellow believers that God-given talents all come from the same source, connect us to one another and empower us to serve one another (Romans 12:4-5). The details of our paid jobs are not particularly important; any honest work that serves other people is a vocation, whether we are paid for it or not and whether it is explicitly religious or not.
The word "vocation" comes from the Latin word "vocare," meaning "to call." We typically think of "vocation" as a more formal word for "job," but it is better understood as "calling." Each one of us serves multiple vocations - multiple callings - at the same time. Our vocations might include that we are children, siblings, parents, grandparents, spouses, friends, citizens, neighbors, employees or employers, coworkers, etc. Vocations are at their heart about relationships; they are the ways we use our talents in service of others. All of our vocations are relationships through which we can use our God-given talents. While it might be tempting to think that the only people with callings are people who work in churches, each one of us has gifts from God that we can put to use in our many vocations.
Sometimes these talents are more obvious to the people around us than they are to us personally. If you are unsure what your God-given talents might be, ask other people what gifts they see in you! You might be wonderfully organized, a great listener, good at encouraging others, able to see potential solutions to difficult problems, a good cook, willing to do behind-the-scenes work that helps projects move forward, a diligent worker who makes sure things get done.
These God-given talents might be put to good use in paid work that you do, or maybe not. One of your vocations might be your dream job that makes great use of your God-given talents - or your vocation might be to work at a job that isn't very personally satisfying but provides an adequate paycheck, so that you can serve your vocation of providing for your family.
Whatever your particular gifts are, whether you are aware of all of them or not, God has blessed you with talents that help connect you with others and serve God and other people. Blessings to you in your many vocations, and may the people you serve through your vocations be blessed too!