you are called

This devotional for Our Daily Journey rises out of my research for Becoming Worldly Saints. I hope it helps people apply the Reformation’s notion of vocation. There is still time to fix errors before I turn it in, so if you see something please say something. Thanks!

read > Colossians 3:18-25

Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ (v. 24).

Martin Luther challenged the medieval idea that only priests, monks, and nuns possessed a divine call. He said that just as ordinary people were saved by God, so ordinary people were called to serve God in their ordinary jobs. In this way “the entire world would be full of service to God, not only the churches but also the home, the kitchen, the cellar, the workshop, and the field of townsfolk and farmers.”

We each follow Jesus by serving him in our various callings. True enough. But how can we tell what Jesus calls us to do?

Begin with the covenantal relationships in your church and home. These primary callings are too valuable to receive a paycheck. I would be insulted if my pastor gave me a kickback for bringing visitors to church. I would be upset if my wife gave me money for being a good husband or if my children gave me a cut out of their allowance. I need to remember this should I lose my paid job. I may be unemployed, but my most important callings have not changed.

Look next at your circumstances. Where are you? What neighborhood do you live in? What school or community do you belong to? Jesus has placed you there on purpose, to serve Him by serving them. As God told His people living in Babylon, “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Finally, consider your career. This is the job you are paid to do. Your present work may not be your dream job, but if it meets the needs of others, then it is your divine calling as long as you remain there. Do it with all your heart, as if you were serving Jesus Himself (Colossians 3:23-24). Because you are.

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Mike, Good post. In the career paragraph, you might consider dropping the sentence: “This is the job you are paid to do.” Housewives (and nowadays some househusbands whose wives are the breadwinners), retired folks, the disabled, etc still have work, but may not get paid. Just a thought. Thanks, Dave

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  2. Thanks! Good catch.

  3. Jonathan Pierce May 20, 2015 — 6:49 pm

    The confusion is caused by what comes to our minds culturally when we see the word career. One’s profession, correct? We use these words interchangeably very often. Your career may indeed be your profession but one’s career does not needs be a profession. The word career is from the French carrière, meaning racecourse.

    Dave is spot on. Your career very well may not be “the job you are paid to do”. In reality your career has to do with the course of your life. Your present profession, “the job you are paid to do” or your role as a housewife, retiree, volunteer, etc. at any given time, is a historical segment of your racecourse. Whether you are in the straightaway, the first turn or the back stretch it makes up your career. Used more specifically I suppose one could break their life-course down into, professional career, hobbyist career, ministry career, family career, etc. but the broad picture is the course of your life me thinks.

  4. Andrew Wichterman June 15, 2015 — 7:45 pm

    Dr. Wittmer, I needed this. I work as a professor myself and yet our family struggles financially. My wife and I however feel that this is where we are supposed to be as it allows for greater flexibility for the work in our formal ministry. Sometimes the best jobs are not the most comfortable.

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