What a Vocation!

Forbes Magazine October 2013 showed a poll that measured how happy employees in the United States are with their job. It showed that only 30% of Americans are happy in their work, 52% feeling blah, and 18% who hate their job. Those numbers are not what we would like to hear but they are better than most places compared to, for instance, China, where there’s only 6% of employees who feel happy with what they do. Overall, out of 25 million employees from 189 different countries the poll showed that only 13% of workers feel engaged by their jobs. Interesting, huh? Are you one of those miserable workers? 

Job, work, chores for so many people are considered “bad stuff”. Who likes them? I believe most of us if we are given options: doing chores or doing nothing, most likely will go for the second one. Somehow the negative response to work or chores is embedded in our DNA since an early stage of life. I see it in my kids; no one likes to make up their beds or even clean up their own mess. Excuse after excuse, until the wrath of their beloved father is aroused against them. Then they, with a sour look and lots of grumbling, will do it. 

What we are missing in our lives is a sense of vocation. The word itself means a call or summons, so that having a vocation means more than having a job. It means answering a specific call; it means doing what one is meant to do. In religious language, it means participating in the work of God, something that few of us believe we do. 

Immersed in the corporate world of business and finance, and in the domestic world of household and family, often times, it is hard for us to see how our lives have anything to do with the life of God. We spend a lot of time lamenting, why God? Why this kind of work? Why did you give me this kind of responsibility? Why do You give me a husband who doesn’t know the difference between caring for his baby boy and a bulldog? Why do I have to repeat the history all over again by taking care of noisy grandchildren? 

When God calls, people respond in a variety of ways. Some pursue ordination and be a pastor like me, some become engineers, some stay home moms… But when we realize that everything we do is a call from God, it changes our perspective about how we do what we do in life. A nurse will have a better understanding that what he or she is doing is not just cleaning someone’s wounds, but be a partner of God to bring healing to a broken world. An engineer then, will find a better understanding that he or she is not just designing a chip for a big computer company, but contributing in God’s perfect plan for the goodness of creation. A grandparent, then, will have a better understanding that he or she is not only babysitting noisy grandchildren but they are raising a man and a woman of God. 

When you find the “things” you do in your daily life have been killing you and you find that they have robbed the joy you have, here is good advice from Joyce Rupp, a writer: “Lately I’ve been thinking about intention: why I do what is expected of me each day, and how I might approach differently the tasks I dislike or resist. When I let myself get caught in the “should, ought to, have to, must” duties, blocks of resistance arise and yank away my positive energy. When I deliberately change my intention and clear out the resistance, gratefulness and joy flow steadily. Just this morning I went to shovel the hard-packed snow pushed in front of my driveway. I went out the door grumbling unkind thoughts about the snowplow driver. But as I picked up the shovel I changed my intention from “I have to do it” to “I want to enjoy this.” It was then I looked around and became aware of the rising sun filling the snow-laden woods with sparkling stars, felt the exhilarating texture of brisk winter air on my cheeks, noticed the crunch of snow beneath my feet, and heard the song of a waking cardinal. Grumpiness left. Awe-filled gratitude arose. Joy returned.” Great wisdom!

Prophet Jeremiah was very clear about this. He wrote the book of Lamentation. It’s literally the book of a cry. Jeremiah did a lot of crying and whining about the assignment that God gave him, but right in the middle of his frustration he shouts: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him.” I cry because of my bad circumstances. But I refuse to kick God out of my life, Jeremiah said. Instead, I will cling to Him, because His faithfulness, His plan, and His love are bigger than all the frustration of taking care of God’s business I have to endure. As if he was saying: What a Vocation!!!

Love and prayers, 

Vincent Arishvara 02182016


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