“Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” –Frederick Buechner
Be warned—if you become a Fellow, you’re going to hear the word “vocation” thrown around like a football in the SEC (I’m a Midwesterner, so let me be proud of this metaphor). But seriously, the Fellows have an entire four-day vocations retreat for which we take a couple fancy tests and are handed a magical envelope containing an exhaustive plan for the rest of our lives (kidding, mostly).
The vocations retreat, which occurred a couple weeks ago, was an extremely enlightening, affirming, and amazing time set aside to scrutinize and study the idea of vocation as followers of Jesus and intentionally reflect on our own gifts, desires, and opportunities. I learned a great deal about how Elise works, but I also left with a holistic knowledge of calling and vocation and how these concepts are deeply rooted in Scripture.
What is this mysterious and ever-elusive “calling from God”? At least for me, growing up in Christian circles and attending a Christian university, the overuse of this idea had worn me out during my four-year-long search for the one right, end-all, jackpot career path. I changed majors three times in college, was involved in numerous different organizations and ministries, took several trips abroad, tried to dabble in almost every field of study that interested me, and all while constantly striving to find that sweet spot where life would suddenly make complete sense.
Spoiler alert: there is no vocational sweet spot. There is no “one right call” that if you don’t find then your life will be unfulfilling. There will instead be multiple and varied callings throughout life. Our lives are a series of callings. And we can never predict our calling because it will look different wherever we go.
Vocational calling is not a funnel. I was always worried about choosing and sticking with a certain vocation I felt led to for fear of forever cutting off any other possibility for the rest of my life, placing me on a singular, narrow career path. This mindset places huge pressure on any decision and often paralyzes us to inaction.
Every decision you make after graduating from college is not, contrary to my own worries as a recent post-grad, life-altering. Keep the “find your destiny” sentiment for Hallmark graduation cards. There is no narrow strip of destiny we must find in order to have true happiness.
In addition, vocation is not the only calling we have. We are primarily called to Christ, and that secondarily plays out in family, community, church, and vocation. And vocation, although defined as the intersection of our gifts, desires, and opportunities, is first and foremost for the glory of God. Though what I do in life will change, I’m still serving the same Master at all times and this keeps me grounded.