We hear several buzz words in the local church today — purpose, destiny, mission, and vision. It is unlikely that we hear vocation…ever. When you can, conduct a Parker Palmer search from the home page at http://www.thequeenlife.com. He talks about vocation and how to come upon it in his book Let Your Life Speak (2010).
When I graduated from high school, I had a plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management, a master’s degree in business administration, and a doctorate in linguistics from Harvard. I saw myself on the corporate track, making the big bucks, and blazing a solid trail for African American women to follow.
Today, I recall this and see just how little I knew about myself back then. I did not have the heart for corporate environments, although my administrative skills secured nice positions. It took life experience between undergraduate and graduate study to reveal my vocation.
Small “aha moments” added up to a big aha moment when I put several desires for my future down on paper and reflected on the common thread. I had to consider why administrative professional work alone became kind of robotic for me. I understood later that they were meant to work with my vocation.
Numbers 23:19 ~ God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
I share part of journey to awareness of my vocation because vocation is not what leaders generally encourage us to pursue. Go to school. Get a job. Stay on that job. Put money ahead for retirement. Retire from that job. Enjoy the fruit of your labor. The training many of us received was for job thinking; that is, how to be great working for others. Even church leaders did not factor in God’s plan for us except to quote Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
But God reveals vocation. Let’s look at Romans 11:29.
Romans 11:29 ~ For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
God’s calling is without repentance. We usually understand this to mean He does not take back His calling on our lives. He does not regret investing His call and His gifts in us. Calling comes from a root word that means a calling of a name. God calls our name and invites us to a vocation. Here’s how Parker Palmer said it in Let Your Life Speak.
…insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which 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. (p. 4)
Isn’t that good? Vocation is customized, and when we embrace God’s unique plan for us to live out in the earth, vocation relieves us of comparison and competition. It stands solid and stabilizes our dreams and hopes because it keeps us close to God’s heart.
I think we forget as disciples of Jesus that closeness to Him happens INSIDE of us. We place our efforts outside of us, and fall into thinking that He is at a real finish line at a real location different from our present situation. These are metaphors. He is IN US, working IN US His will and our courage to act accordingly.
Here is a clarifying statement about vocation from Parker Palmer.
Verbalizing is not the only way our lives speak, of course. They speak through our actions and reactions, our intuitions and instincts, our feelings and bodily states of being, perhaps more profoundly than through our words. (p. 6)
Royal Ones, do not be tossed about with the winds and waves of doctrine that try us in our identity. Instead, let’s protect the balance in our lives and make the quiet, meditation time count. Let’s be slow to speak and quick to hear….hear Holy Spirit IN US…introduce us to ourselves. Let’s let our Maker tell us who we are, who He sent us from Himself to be in the earth (Jeremiah 1:5).
Let’s not let this current season find us hidden under a stack of others’ plans and words and hopes for us. The demand is for our authentic selves, and many of us are behind time because we set our lives to the timelines of others. So now, deep down, we sense a call to move out in divine purpose or action, but we are unsure of how to get there or what to do.
The good news is that we can always slow down, and then stop to hear what our lives keep repeating. Please, let’s tune our ears to hear the calling (God calling our name, Romans 11:29) and the vocation (the voice of God through our lives speaking to us). The Father is speaking to US, through US, about US.
Amen? Amen! Selah, and love to all.