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How do I discern and live out my vocation?

“I feel like I’ve missed out on life. I don’t see any meaning in the day-to-day.” Have you ever heard people express these kinds of thoughts? Have they crossed your own mind? They suggest a realization that we don’t want to live our lives in vain, that we can wake up knowing what we will contribute. What better way to do this than to discern one’s vocation and live it fully?

This article was inspired by a sermon given by Jeannot Gauggel, a missionary and recently retired director of Mission FPC.

40 years ago, Jeannot and his wife moved to Bitche to plant a new church. A few weeks after their arrival, a couple of elderly neighbors invited them to dinner. In the middle of the meal, the man made a surprising revelation to Jeannot. He explained how he felt that life had passed him by. Jeannot was very moved and saddened to hear this from a man who could have been his father.

This conversation played over and over again in Jeannot’s mind. How do you live your life so as not to come to this same conclusion in the future? For him, the answer was clear: discern my vocation and live it fully.

The following was taken from Jeannot’s sermon and aims to better understand vocation and how to discern one’s own.

What does vocation mean?

In everyday language, the word “vocation” implies an appeal, a particular taste, for a profession or state of mind. For example, you could say that a person has the vocation of a musician.

In the New Testament, the word has origins in texts where the noun “call” (klêsis), the verb “calling” (kaléo), and the participle “called” (klêtos) appear.

Where does vocation come from? Who is calling?

Genesis presents God as the ruler, creator, and sustainer of creation. He alone exists eternally, he alone is dependent on no one. Everything exists by divine decision following the divine word. Everything exists through him and for him. God entrusts humans with purpose and delegates authority to them.

God is the one who calls, although he can use intermediaries. We see this in the New Testament, too.

We see that God takes the initiative, he wants to connect with us, as 2 Timonthy 1:9 emphasizes: “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Moreover, Jesus calls in the way it is shown in Romans 1:5: “Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”

Finally, the Holy Spirit calls us, too: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Acts 13:2.


We are in partnership with God

God created all things and keeps them alive. He supports and directs everything according to his will, but he does not do it as directly as he did during creation: he has us participate.

Take for example children loved and educated by their parents, or societies directed by their leaders… We are the hands, ears, and feet for one another.

He meets physical, emotional, spiritual needs through us. God uses us and our love for our neighbors to carry out his will. In a way, he hides behind human action to guide the world.

Finally, we often think of action when we think of vocation, yet it is more common for scripture to link the call to salvation with lifestyle – as in the passages from 1 Peter 2:9 and Acts 26:18. Faith allows us to relate to Jesus. And he was the one who brought us back into the partnership.

Calls to serve

God calls us to be witnesses in our behavior, liberated and living in peace.  Our behavior also reflects our thoughts, our values, and our relationship with God: we need to be consistent in all these areas.

He calls us to action in our service in the Church and the world. We all have something to do. Vocation is therefore a call to service.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19.

To Ananias, he said: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15.

⇒ In the Church

The Church is the place of life where we communicate and work. We read in Galatians 5:13: “serve one another humbly in love.” We have gifts and skills we can use to help others. This requires us to know these people and understand their needs.

Also, we discern two types of service: that of speech and action. God gives both and bestows his strength for both.

⇒ In the world

This is what Peter emphasizes for the whole Church: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9. The vocation of the Church is to proclaim aloud, with fitting behavior, God’s work: it is the call to witness to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8.

What are the applications for us?

We can apply what we understand about vocation in our lives.

⇒ Witness wherever God has placed us!

⇒ Use our abilities, skills, and gifts!

⇒ Listen to the Holy Spirit to understand our place!

For Jeannot, if what he is and does is dedicated to the glory of God and to the good of others, he will have lived his vocation!

And you, does your calling influence the content of your daily life, the profession you’ve chosen, and all aspects of your life?

Mission FPC

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