Vocation Envy

Over at the Refresh blog, a post of mine has gone up that originally appeared here a few months ago.  The question regards the idea of Christian vocation, that as believers we often sense that we are called by God to do specific works.  In the post at Refresh, I address the false notion that God is going to call me away to do something I’m going to despise.

There is another attendant falsehood that often sidles up alongside that one.  It is the notion that certain callings are “higher” than others.  Call it “vocation envy.”

I don’t know how often I’ve heard it, particularly as a student at a Christian college some years ago.  Many friends, all ardent in their faith, were studying for careers in engineering or education or nursing, say, but would at different times express a sense of inferiority because they were not pursuing some kind of pastoral career.

Since then, within the church itself, I’ve often heard a similar sentiment from folks in the pews.  They’ve got their jobs from Monday to Friday, but what they really want to do is to do ministry.  Their forty (or fifty or sixty) hours during the week just pay the bills so they can do God’s work on the weekends.

Just as our desires and dreams are not necessarily contrary to the Lord’s hopes for our lives, so it is false to rank professional church work above other types of good occupations, as if building homes or keeping the company’s books clean were inferior to saying the Mass or preaching on a Sunday morning.  There are ample opportunities to serve the Lord in all arenas.

I’ve heard it said (I forget where) that pastoral work is really like being a coach.  We pump people up and spur them on so that they can have impact in their lives in the community.  It is the people who sit in the pews who are actually playing the game.

Perhaps I should be jealous of them.


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