Thursday, October 21, 2010


To What Are You "Called"

Brandon O'Brien looks at the essential dichotomy of being a pastor in an Out of Ur post:
According to Peterson, a job is “an assignment to do work that can be quantified and evaluated.” Most jobs come with job descriptions, so it “is pretty easy to decide whether a job has been completed or not…whether a job is done well or badly.” This, Peterson argues, is the primary way Americans think of the pastor (and, presumably, that pastors think of themselves). Ministry is “a job that I get paid for, a job that is assigned to me by a denomination, a job that I am expected to do to the satisfaction of my congregation.”

A vocation is not like a job in these respects. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, “to call.” Although the term today can refer to any career or occupation (according to Webster), the word (vocatio, I imagine) was coined to describe the priestly calling to service in the church. So vocation=calling. This is how Peterson is using the word, anyway. And the struggle for pastors today, he continues, is to “keep the immediacy and authority of God’s call in my ears when an entire culture, both secular and ecclesial, is giving me a job description.”
Finally, he answers the dilemma in his last paragraph:
Jobs pay the bills; vocations may or may not.
I just want to say that the deepest sense of calling I have seen, in my own life and in the lives of many others has been in people that were not "paying the bills" through ministry. The early church attempted to answer this dilemma by separating activities - "deacons" were ordained to take care of business and apostles or elders exercised ministerial vocations. Evangelical churches expect ministers to run the show. I; however, am a part of a tradition where we still have those set aside to run the show so the minister can be set free. Yet, the ministers keep coming home to the business. There is an inherent distrust of the "volunteer." Put another way, there is a lack of acknowledgment that the volunteer vocation is equally a calling.

I think the entire face of Christianity would change if we took seriously that everyone has a vocation in the church due equal respect and worth, and we leadership of the lowly "volunteer."

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