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Switch to Forum Live View Vocation - A Useless Teaching?
5 years ago  ::  Aug 04, 2009 - 10:02PM #1
dearwatson
Posts: 168

One of the 'gifts' of a Lutheran understanding of human/divine agency has traditionally been the understanding of being called by God by various means to one's place in life.


With the scriptural data in mind, the 'street value' of this doctrine has generally been to affirm and build up the importance of persons doing menial and difficult labor and to reassert the power of the Church as an institution to fence in the pulpit.


The downside of this teaching is that it is unsatisfactory to those who are not or can not do the tasks to which they are most suited or gifted.  Moreover, in our context today, people tend to wear more than one hat or role at the same time and are often prone to swing from one 'vocation' to the next with great regularity.  Seminarians starting classes next month will most likely leave the ordained ministry within five years -- and many are entering the ministry as a second or even third career path.


Is there any grounds for re-thinking or at least down-playing this part of Lutheran teaching?

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 05, 2009 - 11:28PM #2
Hoppy393
Posts: 2,680

Aug 4, 2009 -- 10:02PM, dearwatson wrote:


One of the 'gifts' of a Lutheran understanding of human/divine agency has traditionally been the understanding of being called by God by various means to one's place in life.


With the scriptural data in mind, the 'street value' of this doctrine has generally been to affirm and build up the importance of persons doing menial and difficult labor and to reassert the power of the Church as an institution to fence in the pulpit.


The downside of this teaching is that it is unsatisfactory to those who are not or can not do the tasks to which they are most suited or gifted.  Moreover, in our context today, people tend to wear more than one hat or role at the same time and are often prone to swing from one 'vocation' to the next with great regularity.  Seminarians starting classes next month will most likely leave the ordained ministry within five years -- and many are entering the ministry as a second or even third career path.


Is there any grounds for re-thinking or at least down-playing this part of Lutheran teaching?



Shortly:  I don't think so.


I think there is an emphasis on searching for our calling to particular vocations.  While it is true that in many circumstances we are not in the place which best suits our gifts and abilities, our gifts are only one thing to take into account.  Sometimes, the situation calls for a different type of job.  One might feel called out of his or her comfort zone (for lack of a better term) because his or her family requires insurance or better pay.  Sometimes there are temporary jobs to help someone through school while he or she prepares for their next job.  And sometimes, a switch in vocation identifies a previously unknown talent.


Sometimes, switches away from ministry are for the better, as well.  Some people feel called to give all they are to God and think full-time ministry is the only way.  Then they are surprised when they feel out-of-place or spiritually unprepared (even if they have been educated well).  You can give all of yourself to God outside of full-time ministry.


When we keep a prayerful attitude and make decisions based on trying to glorify God, then I believe each vocation or promotion or transfer is simply a step in refining where we should be.


~Hop


 

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 16, 2009 - 9:41PM #3
Rod1
Posts: 39

Throughout Scriptures all of man was given a vocation.  Even in the Garden, Adam was give names to of His creation (Genesis 1:19).  Even in the most seemingly meanial & frustrating of tasks, God is glorified.  One is only called to be a "good steward in whatever vocation that God has given anyone. 

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5 years ago  ::  Nov 19, 2009 - 12:10AM #4
dearwatson
Posts: 168

I believe that the reduction of this doctrine to a justification for the office of minister of word and sac and its backing with eisogesis is additionally problematic. I doubt that  one is often hired when walking into an interview and saying to the human resources representative, "God wants me to work here."  A psychiatrist may be recommended rather than a hiring contract. On the other hand, if one walks into one of our candidacy committees and says anything other than the assertion that God is particularly interested in an individual being on the  pension plan, that person is not considered to be "called."


I'm sure that one might be 'called' to be America's next top model, but don't tell me Tyra Banks and Ms. J speak with the voice of God. Similarly, are those who are unemployed "called" to be so -- what about the underemployed? 


Vocation implies that there is far more choice involved and the simple task of the believer is to pray and find joy in one's station.  This doctrine needs reform.

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