What’s your vocation?
There was a time when it was common for someone to study, train, or apprentice to follow a line of work and continue in that same vocation for the rest of his or her life. That still exists, but it has become less unusual that a person may have various vocations throughout his or her lifetime than it once was.
I have been blessed to be one of those with more than one vocation in the course of my life. It wasn’t my long-term plan or goal, but it developed over time as I grew, came to know myself better, expanded my interests and education, and walked through doors the Lord opened for me.
I think now that I might have been bored if I had always done the same thing. I tend to give all I am to whatever I pursue including all the creativity that fuels my personality. Once I master one set of challenges, I seem to be open to learn or explore something new.
Each thing I have done was something the Lord used to awaken more of His design for me. He also used one thing to build upon and prepare for the next. And He still isn’t really done even though I officially retired almost four years ago.
Adult life began with me as a U.S. Marine Corps officer’s wife and then a stay-at-home mom. While I was doing those things, I wrote some articles for our small country church newsletter. That led to a woman at our church opening the door for me to work as a “stringer” for a local newspaper in a neighboring county writing news items and feature stories from the comfort of my own home. I loved it!
My spiritual life was growing during that time as well and that opened a path to serve in leadership of a Christian women’s ministry for several years. Those years exposed me to high mountaintops and major challenges of what it means to be heavily involved in ministry with a lot of other flawed humans like me.
The next stop on my timeline was with our local public school system that called me and asked me about a tutoring position that would match my children’s school schedules. (My college degrees were in the area of education.) This was quite a shift from heavy ministry responsibilities, but how God used it for two years was a great adventure. It opened a path to 13 years as a junior high special education teacher and that was the lastthing I had planned to do even though I was educated to do just that.
While all these transitions were happening, transitions in the spiritual life of both my husband and me were changing and evolving. Together we were actively working with National Marriage Encounter and becoming lay counselors at our church. These areas were ones where my heart burned with a desire to know more. As I considered some of the persons I was meeting as a lay counselor, I knew I needed far more equipping than lay counselor training. That led to entrance into graduate school on a part-time basis during the time I was teaching full-time.
Yikes!! Did I mention I was still a wife and mother?
When you have tenure as a teacher, you don’t usually walk away from that position (especially when you live just 3 miles from where you teach). But that is what I did! In mid-life I became a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Independent Marriage and Family Therapist and entered a Christian private practice. Yes, there was a pay cut and all those nice retirement and insurance benefits went away also, but I felt the Lord continuing to draw me forward.
How did I know? One reason was that from the very beginning of my adult life I never applied for any of these positions or opportunities; someone saw some interest, ability, or passion in me and asked me. That is how He happened to lead me. I guess He saw how hard it was for me to believe in myself or what I could do through Him.
After ten years in private practice, I was asked to join our church staff to offer clinical counseling services and to develop an array of ministries to equip and help laymen develop and grow. I was blessed to do that for another 13 years and when I retired I thought that was the last stop. But the Lord had more in mind. Sounds just like Him, right?
That love of writing that had been with me since childhood was not forgotten by the Lord and three years ago He led me to begin my website and start writing and sharing my photography.
It can be easy to compare vocations. As believers we can have a distorted view of what ministry is and isn’t because we miss how the Lord views this. We also miss how He uses each thing He gives us to do to equip us for what’s next.
A brief look at the disciples Jesus gathered around Him shows us He chose men from more than one vocation even though most of them were fishermen.
As I was reading in John 21, I noticed the story of Peter and some of the other disciples going to fish after Jesus had been resurrected and told them to meet Him in Galilee. Sometimes they get a lot of criticism for that (fishing again), but perhaps we are shortsighted based on the note on this I read in my study Bible:
“Whatever our vocation, Jesus meets us there, but He doesn’t leave what we do untouched. Fishers of fish are also called to be fishers of men, and both require Jesus. Peter hauled 153 fish ashore only because Jesus filled the nets. Peter would see 3,000 conversions on the day of Pentecost only because Jesus is filling his church.”
Each of us may choose a vocation or have one chosen for us because it seems to fit for us, but we must never underestimate what the Lord has in mind in that choice or the ones He will open after that first one.
He just wants us to follow Him!