Considering the current circumstances my wife and are both under, we have had intense conversation on our understanding of calling and how that is linked to vocation. Many phrases have initially been thrown into the discussion and I thought it’d be best to open this up for discussion:
“You can still be a pastor and not get paid for it.”
“Can I work at a job that I don’t necessarily like and still be called to do it?”
“Is calling something that I am or something that I do?”
“We’re called to be disciples, the vocation comes second.” –Rob Bell
“Being called as a pastor is a higher calling.”
“I don’t feel called to be an accountant, it just helps pays the bills.”
“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”
In college, I sensed a calling to pastor, particularly with students. This is the “call” I’ve pursued most of my adult life. I went from church to church pursuing this call, and for multiple reasons, find myself now not getting a paycheck for it. I am currently struggling with whether I missed the boat on this, or that something else is in play here.
Over the last year, I have received a lot of encouragement from others telling me that I was made for this. However, given our current circumstances financially, we have limits on where that can be expressed. Most, if not all, do not understand this. I have heard all sorts of things of “You are limiting yourself,” to “You are not trusting God enough.”
In addition, my wife’s vocational narrative joins mine in these circumstances. As an accountant, she has secured stable employment for the rest of our lives. Her job is not only secure, but has ample opportunity to advance and retire here. While she doesn’t particularly enjoy the job of accounting, she loves helping others and enjoys the environment she works in. It allows her flexibility with our family and pays a decent wage.
Graduation from seminary has brought an interesting fusion of these two narratives. We must pay the tremendous debt load incurred; while at the same time continue to pursue what God has called us to be. However, our circumstances have not matched up. Through no lack of effort, I have been unable to secure employment in a “ministry” setting, not even at my own church. This has raised numerous questions about what our “call” is, and through our discussion, has raised some significant revelations.
Those revelations will be the series of posts I want to write on the subject of call. I am not prepared to unveil this at a post-a-day pace. This is something that has been brewing and still needs organized.
Initially, I want to explore the Biblical roots, Western culture’s influence, and our personal narrative in the conversation.
Some initial thoughts I will be exploring:
-I believe we are called to be particular types of people; one’s vocation is not necessarily a part of that calling.
-I believe Jesus calls us to be and make disciples, and that’s it. Calling to be a pastor doesn’t mean that it becomes a vocation for a paycheck.
-One’s degree pursuit has influence on one’s vocation choice.
-I thought calling and vocation were the same. While the two can co-exist it does not mean that they are inseparably linked.
-I almost want to say we are called to be certain types of people, not called to do specific things for pay, but we’ll see.
-Much of the discussion around call seems to revolve around pastors much more than other professions, and most of those other professions do not discuss this subject like those in pastoral ministry.
-I believe God doesn’t give us a map, but a compass.
I invite any comments, questions, or feedback. Hopefully this is helpful, at least for us.