Life as Vocation
Living our call, each and every day
Some people think the word “vocation” means a special calling by God to serve as a pastor in the church. This is true — clergy have a calling from God to live their lives in service to God and God’s church.
But the Lutheran view of vocation has a much deeper and broader meaning, extending beyond this narrow definition and into everyday life. As members of the ELCA, we believe that we all have a calling — a vocation — to follow Christ’s example, living a life of meaning and purpose in service to the common good. To work every day — in what we say and do — to share God’s boundless love with the world.
You may think, “Isn’t that what pastors do?” Yes. But it can also be what bus drivers, secretaries and factory workers do. And in fact, living in service for others extends beyond the work we call “work.” Our “jobs” as parents, siblings, friends, citizens and neighbors are also important vocations. When we challenge ourselves to do these jobs the best that we can, putting others’ needs before our own, and striving for the common good, we are responding to God’s call for our life — our vocation.
As members of the ELCA, we believe that we all have a calling — a vocation — to follow Christ’s example, living a life of meaning and purpose.
This perspective originates with Martin Luther’s teaching about vocation. He wrote about how both faith and service lead us in the direction of salvation. While the Gospel teaches that our salvation depends only on what Christ has done for us, Luther believed that our response to this gift is to answer God’s call for our life.
So, even if you don’t feel called to pursue full-time professional leadership in the church, you can still explore your calling. How? Get started by reading Stories of Faith in Action — which tell of Lutherans, regular people just like you, living life in service to their neighbors. Then live your life as an example of this — honoring God by serving others.
Take It Further
Looking for some other resources on how to live our lives in vocation?
- Read Listen! God is Calling: Luther Speaks of Vocation, Faith, and Work, available for purchase on the Augsburg Fortress Web site.
- Learn more through the Program for Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV), which teaches a curriculum that inspires vocational reflection. You can find out about their coursework and resources on the PTEV Web site.