“Occupation” Session 3:
Occupation as Calling
Read pages 69-111 of Garden City before beginning this lesson.
Your vocation is your calling. This is true whether you are a pastor or a barista or a stay-at-home mom. There is no divide between “sacred” and “secular” when it comes to the call of God on your life. What is your calling? Have you thought out that? How does that fit into your occupation? Are they synonymous? If not, what might you need to do in order to align your life around the calling of God? Have you ever considered that God might “call” bankers as well as missionaries?
1. Is this a new concept to you? Discuss it with your small group. It’s important that you consider the implications of vocation as calling before we move on.
Who Am I?
In order to answer the question of calling, we must answer the questions, “who am I?” “What did God create me to do?” This is a complicated question, so let’s try to break it down. Let’s start by considering your personality. Have you ever taken a personality test like Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, etc? These are helpful tools in discovering the way that God has wired you. Your calling is often more likely to be revealed through natural methods than through divine revelation (although that does happen too!)
1. Take some time to pray and ask God to reveal to you how He made you, and take a few personality tests, if you haven’t. You could take some time to take one right now with you small group! They only take a few minutes!
2. Go to www.16personalities.com and take the Myers-Briggs personality test to get started. If you have already taken the test, take some time to read about your personality type.
3. The best way to unearth your calling is by asking questions—lots of questions.
So, take some time to ask those questions in your group. What are you passionate about? What frustrates you? What kinds of activities bring you life? (Feel free to continue this line of thought on your own.)
Remember that finding your calling is about finding your voice. It's about finding what you can do to contribute to the mission of God in creation. Take some time this week to be present in the world around you. Ask yourself, “what’s missing,” or “what is it that does this world need more of.” Do you ever look at the world and think, “somebody needs to fix that”? That somebody might be you.
Everything is Spiritual
In order for us to fully understand the Biblical concept of calling, we must take time some time to wrestle with the sacred/secular divide. The sacred/secular divide is an ancient lie rooted in gnostic dualism. The argument is that the “sacred” things in life—like prayer and church and reading the Bible—matter to God, while “secular” things like working and eating and raising a family do not. The problem with this argument is that, by definition, most of life is secular. But is this concept Biblical? If you look at the Hebrew Scriptures, you will find that the word “spiritual” does not even exist, because, according to the jews, all of life is spiritual. Even in the New Testament, the concept of spirituality is always in the context of “real life.”
1. Is this a new concept to you? Do you view all of life as spiritual or do you divide your human experience into these two, non-existent categories?
2. Discuss the implications of a holistic spiritual life in your small group? (Refer to John Mark’s brief, historical overview of gnostic dualism on pages 99–100 of Garden City to get started.)
Work as Ministry
You don’t have to be in “full-time” ministry to live out your calling. In fact, all of life can be “ministry,” if you do it as an act of worship to God. Remember that what you do for a living matters just as much as, if not more than, what you do with the money you make. As Christians, we have been given two distinct callings:
To rule over the earth (fulfilling the cultural mandate in Genesis 1)
To make disciples of all nations (fulfilling the Great Commission in Matthew 28).
These two callings are not mutually exclusive. They go hand-in-hand. If this is a revolutionary thought to you, you’re not the only one. The church has historically done a pretty good job of emphasizing one of these callings at a time, but rarely both.
1. Take some time to discuss this concept of ruling over creation while fulfilling the Great Commission. How does this work practically? Do you feel like your first calling is equal to your second?
2. Think about Jesus. Wasn’t he a carpenter or construction worker for decades before he ever engaged in public “ministry”? If having a “secular” job wasn’t beneath the Creator of the Universe, why should we look down upon such work?
The point is this: we live and work with no compartments. To God, everything that we do that contributes to human flourishing and the reestablishment of a Garden-world is sacred and beautiful, whether we work in the church or at the local supermarket. It all matters to God.