We are going to be thinking about calling and vocation here at Hopeful Realism. I’ve already offered an initial post on these themes: “Vocation as Pyrrhic Victory.” But what does “calling” actually refer to?
The word “vocation” derives from the Latin vocatio, the base root of which is vox: “voice.”
That’s important. Critically important.
Christianity is entirely premised on the idea that Someone higher than ourselves has spoken a word into the darkness. Think of the lyrical repetition in Genesis 1: “and God said…,” “and God said…,” “and God said…”. In the beginning, there was a vox. John’s Gospel announces that another beginning was inaugurated when the Word became flesh (“In the beginning was the Word….”). Jesus is God’s spoken word, the embodiment of the vox that always speaks first.
And so a theology of vocation must always begin with a theology (and Christology) of God’s word.
When we speak of our “calling,” we are usually thinking in terms of what we do, in terms of our job or career. But “calling” and “vocation” are lofty theological terms. “Vocation” implies a vox/voice. A “calling” implies that Someone other than ourselves has spoken, has called out.
So to embrace a vocation is to heed an external voice. Our calling is not not an internal impulse but a response to One who calls.
A calling is a divinely issued assignment, not a personal ambition. A vocation is a summons.
Well and good. Except that in raising the idea of vocation into such theological clouds, we often raise our vocational anxiety level along with it.
Why? More to come…