Saturday, August 16, 2014

Calling and Tough Times

Nick spoils me on car trips: he usually drives and lets me indulge in reading, knitting, sleeping... well, he broke his toe Thursday after landing poorly. Next time, there's no need to jump shot the foam bricks into the trash tube at the children's museum construction site, buddy. So I drove from Saint Louis to the western suburbs of Chicago. With his foot on the dash, Nick finished up some writing and then read out loud to me.

Church Planter

Nick chose this book by Darrin Patrick as his vacation read. Don't worry too much about him truly relaxing on break, he's also been working through some Steven King short stories. Patrick pastors a seven site church in the metro Saint Louis area and also serves as vice president of the Acts 29 network. We chose to attend the site closest to us on Sunday evenings (we go to Nick's assigned field work church Sunday mornings), and do small group Bible study though The Journey with people who live within blocks of us. We love the people of our small group, and we can bring our kids to play quietly with the other kids while adults study the Bible and pray.

The section Nick had read to was about how to discern if one has a calling from God to become a pastor. That sparked a conversation about Luther's ideas of vocation. The Latin root work is vocario, summons, from vocare, to call, or vox, voice. Luther taught that all people have callings from God and that one's vocations -- note the plural --  may change over time, depending on one's season of life or roles. I'm a pretty direct person, and so I asked a bunch of questions, including:
How would what Patrick has to say about the pastoral calling mesh with Luther's ideas?
How is the pastoral calling different from other types of calling and vocation?
What types of vocations would Luther say that Nick or I have right now, in this season?

Love Through the Seasons

In Luke 10:27 Jesus summarized the 10 commandments with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." Many Christian thinkers, including Luther, write about the vertical relationship we have with God, and the horizontal relationship we have with our neighbors. Vocation is a vertical relationship with God, who calls us and gives us roles, and a horizontal relationship as we lovingly seek good for our neighbors through our vocations and roles.

For example, I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and neighbor. I have training and qualifications to lead Bible study, mentor young adults, teach and tutor K-12 students, and collaborate well on teams with colleagues. However, certain roles take the lead in certain seasons. Right now, I know from my time praying with God, from other mature Christians speaking into my life, and from seeing fruit (if however slow to appear!) that tutoring struggling students, providing childcare for a toddler, growing as a wife, and being a full time mom are the most appropriate roles. Right now, for a season. God may bring the others back into my life to grow me and others, but some are on hold for now.

How are these seemingly very earthly vocations and roles a vertical relationship with God? Summarizing Luther, read this with the role of "Mom" in mind:

  1. It [the role of mom] crucifies the flesh and our selfish desires.
  2. It focuses on loving and serving our neighbors.
  3. It causes us to be humble and fearful before God.
Amen, moms?! I'm an extrovert, and talking these things through out loud with Nick instantly helped satisfy me with what otherwise may be an unsatisfying season in my life. The more I've thought about this over the past 24h, the more at ease I feel and the better I can rationally think about daily moments. The more I think about what God is teaching me about himself, growing my Christ-likeness, and using me to love others, the more time I want to spend talking with Jesus about it in prayer. It also takes the "what I want out of this" idolatry out of career, marriage, parenthood, and even friendship.

What about you?
What keeps you going through tough workplace environments?
What meaning do you find in your roles?
How do you talk to God about these things?

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