Vocation


Vocation

A vocation is an occupation for which a person is suited, trained or qualified. It is also the inclination to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; often in response to a perceived summons; a calling. This type of vocation is either professional or voluntary, that is carried out more for its altruistic benefit than for income, which might be regarded as a secondary aspect of the vocation, however beneficial.

Background

Vocations can be seen as fulfilling a psychological or spiritual need for the worker, and the term can also be used to describe any occupation for which a person is specifically gifted, and usually implies that the worker has a form of "calling" for the task. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin "vocare", meaning "to call"; [Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1985), s.v. “vocatio.”] , however, its usage before the sixteenth century, particularly in the Vulgate, refers to the calling of all humankind to salvation, with its more modern usage of a life-task first employed by Martin Luther. [Max Weber, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism", trans. Talcott Parsons, Ch.3, p. 79 & note 1.]

The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. Particularly in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with a divine call to service to the Church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage to a particular person, consecration as a religious, ordination to priestly ministry in the Church and even a holy life as a single person. In the broader sense, Christian vocation includes the use of ones gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.

The idea of a vocation or "calling" has been pivotal within Protestantism. Martin Luther taught that each individual was expected to fulfill his God-appointed task in everyday life. Although the Lutheran concept of the calling emphasized vocation, there was no particular emphasis on labor beyond what was required for one's daily bread. Calvinism transformed the idea of the calling by emphasizing relentless, disciplined labor. In the Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536), Calvin defined the role of "The Christian in his vocation." He noted that God has prescribed appointed duties to men and styled such spheres of life vocations or callings. Calvinists distinguished two callings: a general calling to serve God and a particular calling to engage in some employment by which one's usefulness is determined.

The Puritan minister Cotton Mather, in "A Christian at his Calling" (1701), described the obligations of the personal calling as, "some special business, and some settled business, wherein a Christian should for the most part spend the most of his time; so he may glorify God by doing good for himself." Mather admonished that it wasn't lawful ordinarily to live without some calling, "for men will fall into "horrible snares and infinite sins." This idea has endured throughout the history of Protestantism. Three centuries after John Calvin's death, Thomas Carlyle (1843) would proclaim, "The latest Gospel in this world is, 'know thy work and do it.'"

The legacy of this religious ethic continues to exert its influence in an increasingly secular world. Modern occupations which are seen as vocations often include those where a combination of skill and community help are implied, such as medical, care-giving, and veterinary occupations. Occupations where rewards are seen more in spiritual or other non-financial terms, such as religious occupations, are also seen as vocations. Borderline occupations, where community service and more personal reward are more evenly balanced, such as politics, may often be regarded as vocations.

Many forms of humanitarian campaigning, such as work for organisations such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace can also be considered vocations, although the term tends to imply that the activity is a full-time job rather than a part-time activity or hobby....

The emerging church movement, catholic social thought, and an increased interest in reformation thought has renewed interest in the Christian idea of vocation. Another aspect of vocation is working through how to define/discuss/and revitalize the importance of vocational thought not defined by an official church body. Several books have discussed this topic as well as the Catholic Church has defined the calling of the worker in "Laborem Exercens". [ [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens_en.html Laborem exercens - Ioannes Paulus PP. II - Encyclical Letter (1981.09.14) ] ]

Books that have attempted to define / clarify aspects of vocation:
* [http://www.archive.org/details/statesofthechris00bertuoft States of the Christian life and vocation, according to the doctors and theologians of the Church]
*A Theology of the Laity by Hendrik Kraemer
*The Fabric of this World by Lee Hardy
*Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks
*The Call by Os Guinness
*The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor
*Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • VOCATION — VOCATI Le sens du terme «vocation» tel qu’il était employé naguère dans le langage chrétien est dévié par rapport à son origine biblique. Le mot qui appartient en réalité au langage de la révélation est «appel» (klêsis ), qui rejoint le verbe… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vocation — Vo*ca tion (v[ o]*k[=a] sh[u^]n), n. [L. vocatio a bidding, invitation, fr. vocare to call, fr. vox, vocis, voice: cf. F. vocation. See {Vocal}.] 1. A call; a summons; a citation; especially, a designation or appointment to a particular state,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • vocation — vo‧ca‧tion [vəʊˈkeɪʆn ǁ voʊ ] noun [countable] JOBS a job, especially one that involves helping people, that you do because you enjoy it or because you have a strong feeling that it is the purpose of your life to do it: • As a nurse, she felt… …   Financial and business terms

  • vocation — Vocation. s. f. Mouvement interieur par lequel Dieu appelle une personne à quelque genre de vie, pour le servir & l honorer. Répondre, resister à la vocation. ce n est pas sa vocation d estre d Eglise. il faut examiner sa vocation. On appelle, La …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • vocation — index appointment (position), business (occupation), calling, career, employment, job, labor ( …   Law dictionary

  • Vocation — Vocation, Ruf; Berufung, besonders zu einem geistlichen Amte …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • vocation — (n.) early 15c., spiritual calling, from L. vocationem (nom. vocatio), lit. a calling, from vocatus called, pp. of vocare to call (see VOICE (Cf. voice)). Sense of one s occupation or profession is first attested 1550s …   Etymology dictionary

  • vocation — [n] life’s work art, business, calling, career, craft, do*, dodge*, duty, employment, field, game, handicraft, job, lifework, line*, line of business*, métier, mission, nine tofive*, occupation, office, post, profession, pursuit, racket*, role,… …   New thesaurus

  • vocation — ► NOUN 1) a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. 2) a person s employment or main occupation, especially one requiring dedication. 3) a trade or profession. ORIGIN Latin, from vocare to call …   English terms dictionary

  • vocation — [vō kā′shən] n. [ME vocacion < LL(Ec) vocatio, a calling < L, an invitation, court summons < vocare, to call < vox,VOICE] 1. a) a call, summons, or impulsion to perform a certain function or enter a certain career, esp. a religious… …   English World dictionary

  • vocation — (vo ka sion ; en vers, de quatre syllabes) s. f. 1°   Action d appeler, qui ne se dit qu au figuré et en parlant des appels que Dieu fait à l homme. •   Jésus Christ n a point voulu du témoignage des démons, ni de ceux qui n avaient pas vocation …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.