Thursday, May 2, 2013

Vocation: Discerning our Calling Part 3

Douglas J. Schuurman, Vocation: Discerning our Callings in Life. Eerdmans, 2004.

Chapters five through seven of the book looks at "Vocations, Decisions, and the Moral Life," and "Vocation in the Wider World." The author notes that our callings are often connected to the providence of God: "We need to recover the sense that our lives are in many ways 'given' to us by forces beyond our control but ultimately in the loving hands of a provident God. We need also to be aware that numerous and regular obligations that attend our varied routines are roles are expressions of what God wants us to do in our particular locations, always with a view to serving our neighbor and serving God through our neighbor" (119). I think Schuurman basically means that our giftedness and the opportunities we have indicate God's calling for our lives. One could take this idea too far and say we should not change our circumstances but I do not think that is what the author is saying. God through His providence directs our steps and show us His will for our life. We all probably can see how God has shown His will to us through providential circumstances.

Schuurman discusses misconceptions that Christians have about God's calling. The first is "that God has a rigid, highly detailed blueprint for each life" (125). This is often referred to as the bull's eye theory. God has only one particular job or one particular mate for you. A second misconception "is that God's call comes as a miraculous and unmistakable word of direction" (127). The author contends "in numerous and quiet ways, God's callings are mediated by nature, family, community, friends, and more" (127). This seems true to me. We often are waiting for a big lightning flash and do not receive one. A third misconception"is that only clergy and members of religious orders have callings" (127). I do think many people think this is true. A fourth misconception "is that God's callings follow a predictable direction away from one's current social locations" (129). This does seem to happen often.

The author believes it is important that crucial decisions "should be shaped by a sense of calling, by our desire to express gratitude to God for the gift of salvation by using our gifts to serve others and glorify God" (130). I can see how this would be important. For example, if a person's calling is to nurture their children in the faith and if their job keeps them away from their family it would be difficult to fulfill this calling. The moral law should also direct our decision making. God's leading will not go against His moral law. Our work should also contribute to our neighbor's good. Schuurman thinks "so long as an occupation respects human dignity and contributes to the common good, the word of Protestant vocation for career choices is one of freedom" (136). This means that we should not look down on the callings of others. In addition, paid work should not be esteemed so important that we devalue "work in the home and family" (136). I like it especially when the author says, "True calling is experienced inside the ordinary, mundane world, not outside it" (137).

Two other good points made by the author: "In an ideal world, a person should find a partner with a high degree of compatibility and mutual attraction. A person should also find a job that enables optimal development of gifts on one hand, and produces the greater good for the world on the other" (140). It seems a good fit when our gifts matches the needs of the world. God gives particular gifts to particular individuals. Some believe that God's callings goes against people "abilities and aptitudes." The author disagrees with this notion. He asserts, "A person's gifts form one important indicator of directions in which God may be calling that person" (144). Two other things suggested by the author are "our place in the life cycle and our place in history" (145). The different stages of life provide both opportunities and limits. Our place in history has to do with our citizenship, "the century in which we live," family, community, church in "which we find ourselves" (146). In addition to these things there "must be a concrete opportunity" (148). For example, you might feel called to be a college professor "but being a professor is not your calling until and unless you get a concrete offer to teach at this or that college" (148).

Our callings, however, are larger than our career. The author observes, "If the point of our whole existence is to serve Christ in and through all our lives, then our existence will find its ultimate meaning and worth elsewhere than in our particular vocations" (149). One should choose the position where he can best fulfill God's calling for His life.

Communities can also play an important role in finding one's calling. The author thinks that an inward call should be affirmed by the Christian community that knows the believer. There is the possibility that the community could judge wrong as is possible for the believer seeking God's direction. The believer can trust, however, that God will guide him in the right direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment