Our Winter Retreat, focusing on the topic of vocation, was this past weekend. This definition of calling (aka “vocation”), provided by Os Guiness, proved to be a helpful starting point for our discussions.
“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. . . . Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. . . . Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him” (Os Guinness, The Call, pp. 4, 31).
In our first session we reflected upon a dozen questions about our calling. Most of them were not answered directly by the weekend. The point of this list of questions is to make us rethink about or attitude toward work and calling. Hopefully the sessions, the q&a panel and many intentional conversations helped move us to better answers. Even if you were not on the retreat, this list of questions is helpful fodder for meditation and conversation.
1. Why do you work? To earn money or some other apparent gain (fulfillment, self-expression, status)? For the joy of the work itself? For some combination of these and other reasons? From a biblical perspective, why should we work?
2. How does “worldview” relate to vocation? What does the phrase, “Think Christianly/biblically,” mean and how might this relate to our jobs and roles in society?
3. How does calling/vocation relate to the story of Scripture? Do we (should we) think of God’s role as Creator when we consider our particular calling? Why or why not?
4. How should Christian identity affect how we work? Does it mean we pursue excellence, that we are ethical in our dealings, that we evangelize co-workers? Should it have some other effect? Some combination of all of these?
5. How do the concepts of “rest” and “recreation” relate to vocation?
6. Do you have a scale of significance and worth with respect to callings, that is, do you find yourself thinking that some callings are better than others? Should we think about callings in terms of scales of value and importance? Why or why not?
7. Do you see your work and daily tasks as an acts of worship? Why or why not? Can there really be eternal meaning/significance in all the things we do every day, from the biggest to the smallest? If so, why and how?
8. What should we do if what we do (our jobs, daily responsibilities) is drudgery? Why is so much of life drudgery? How might thinking of central and peripheral aspects of calling provide us with more of an ability to gladly accept the more menial aspects of our daily duties?
9. When you think of calling/vocation, do you find yourself thinking predominately about your future or your present? Do you think this is a more helpful or a more distorting way of thinking, and why? When you think of calling/vocation, do you tend to think in terms of one calling or of multiple callings? Why?
10. What should we think and what should we do if we sense we have a particular calling, yet it does not seem as though we are fulfilling it now or could fulfill it any time soon?
11. How do we discern our callings/vocations? As you try to discern your own calling(s), do you find yourself by default looking introspectively at yourself, or outside to your past and your present life in community?
12. What role does the church play in our vocations if many of our vocations are not primarily church-based? Specifically, how does (or could) membership at Grace Church of DuPage intersect with your job, your role as a parent/child/sibling/neighbor, your life in the community?