Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Vocation Vocation Vocation

vo·ca·tion   [voh-key-shuhn]
1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
3. a divine call to God's service or to the Christian life.
4. a function or station in life to which one is called by God.

What are the three most important things to consider when choosing a career?

Calling. Calling. Calling.

Career is literally the "road" you follow. But it is your vocation that you are answering. For the believer, God has called you to life. Abundant life. So as you journey along, you are alive to the possibilities along your way.

Each of God's children has a calling on his life to go and make disciples of all ethnic groups, baptizing them in God's three-fold name and training them to obey His commands.

And specifically, each of us has a "strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity". We are created and gifted in certain areas and then offered opportunities through which to experience divine joy.

In third grade, we had to write a paragraph entitled, "What I want to Be When I Grow Up." Thanks to my scrapbooking mom, I still have it. It reads, "When I grow up, I want to be a mom. But I do not like noisy children. Mom says I am very good at setting the table. I can't wait to get married."

That same year I sang my first solo in church. I messed up in a grand way. My music minister called me the next day and invited me to sing the following week during a [less pressurized] Wednesday night prayer meeting. Bless him for redeeming my first efforts to praise the Lord publicly.

I've known me for a while now. These are the dots I've begun to connect.

God created me to be an inside girl. I love the beauty of the outdoors, but one limited exposure can reap immeasurable benefits if you know what I mean. I don't need a lot of excitement or frequent changes in my surroundings to feel at peace.

God gave me abilities and talents like planning and organizing and singing and making music. He blessed me with the opportunity for higher education where I was able to learn the skills of management, performance, and pedagogy. In the fields of business and music, learning was natural and fun.

God blessed me with opportunities to use my gifts to bless others. Though He offers situations outside my comfort zone to stretch me and put others' needs ahead of my preferences, He most often calls me to work within the ways He has gifted me.

For me to organize a semi-monthly fellowship schedule for Mothers of Preschoolers takes very little energy. It comes naturally. I see the chart in my mind and producing it in written form is just a fun little game to me.

For me to spend an hour and a half each Sunday night with 25 grade-schoolers takes very little nerve. It comes naturally. I know how worthy God is and I am absolutely motivated to share that excitement. Worshipping corporately in the Spirit is a huge thrill.

For me to research a topic and formulate an outline, or to write a cleverly titled essay on a random idea, is exhilarating. Few things are more fun. Baking a cheesecake comes close, but writing makes less of a mess, so it wins.

Some days my "calling" takes me no further than the mailbox at the end of my drive. Other times, I'm called to be in front of larger groups of folks. And, with social media, I guess the Lord could choose to use His message through my words anytime and keep me unaware.

I love my indoor job and am not threatened by the term "homemaker". It's really what I do. I make this place a home. A warm, soft place so people can make mistakes and survive the consequences; a truthful, loving place so people can learn and grow; a tidy, fun place for people to enjoy and return on occasion.

I do enjoy the term "family manager" as well. It spins it a little more toward my education and skills. I COULD be managing some other operation, but I choose to work my junk here. I have invested two decades toward "Human Resource Development". But there might be more...

There is a card that stays in my Bible. I filled it out at a women's retreat in 1999. We were encouraged to "Decide" to get on board with what God had called us to do, "Declare" it, and "Do" it. This was the "Declare" card. Can you guess what I wrote? Fifteen years ago?? I remember feeling terrified to even write it down. And until now, I've NEVER shared the contents of that card with anyone beyond my core companions.

Here she goes:

"I want to be an encouragement to others." (This would be a total miracle considering my tart mouth and dogmatic opinions...but a girl can pray for a miracle, huh?)

"I want to be confidently demonstrative in my love for Philip." (Another miracle of sorts since I'm not a touchy feely girl, and I'm a recovering insecure headcase:)

"I want to pursue with courage the passions that God has given me...like writing, teaching, encouraging." (With courage? hmmmm, there's a doozy of a prepositional phrase...and 'pursue' is such an ACTIVE verb.)

"I want to display gentleness to my children and others." (Yet another miracle needed to compensate for my rotten, harsh, resurfacing sinful nature.)

From my perspective, writing and encouraging can come into conflict with loving my husband and kids. It doesn't have to, but somehow it does. If God has called me to all of these things, there must be a mysterious balance...I just don't trust myself to maintain a healthy equilibrium.

When I suppress my desires and dreams, in order to focus on my family, I feel a little neglected and numb. But when I shun my home relationships and responsibilities in order to devote too much precious time and energies toward outside ministries, I feel guilty and misguided.

If God put ALL this in my heart, then I will leave it up to Him to hash it out.

I asked the Lord, "Please give me opportunities to be a blessing to others. And by "others", You know I mean my family first. I will live each day looking for You and listening for You and shining for You. I'll write when I can. I'll trust You to be my agent. You bring me the projects YOU know I can handle in Your strength. When there seem to be no opportunities at large, help me realize You have called me to such HUGE happy opportunities here in my home."

So, that's how we roll.

Did I choose my career(s)? Perhaps I am simply answering my vocation.