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#1 Mitis angelam

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:26 PM

A discussion in another thread got me thinking.  For many of us, religious beliefs include the idea of vocation; that we are each, individually, called to something specific as a form of service or way of life.

For me, that often ends up with an implied capital "v" because, after a long process of discussion, examination and discernment, my church and I have agreed that my vocation is to its public ministry.  

But some religions don't have that kind of ministry, and some religions claim that everyone has a calling to something in the community of faith, and the whole concept is very flexible.  Some people talk about vocation to marriage, or to a particular profession.

So I wondered if we could have a chat - do you have a sense of vocation?  How did it come about?  Did you test it, or run it past others?  How did they respond?  Do you think the concept is bollocks, or a dangerous prop to ego?  In short, what do you think of the idea?  I'd love to hear from people with different experiences to me...

#2 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

I have absolutely no sense of Vocation in a religious sense. I do hold with the idea of being 'called to the work' but don't associate it with Vocation.  I feel a small measure of Vocation about my profession, but it's far from a large part of it.

I'm not really sure how to address the OP as a result!!

#3 Mitis angelam

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:38 PM

Oh...would it be better if I asked about a sense of calling?  To me that means exactly the same thing.

#4 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:45 PM

No, I don't have a 'sense of calling' either LOL

For me 'being called' isn't an intensely deeply comes-from-inside-me thing. For me 'being called' is outside of me, it's something God does. I know of some people who feel a deep connection to their calling, but I don't feel that for my current calling. I feel it more when working with children and young people but I'm not serving in that capacity at the moment.

'A Calling' for me is about the role you perform in the religious community and sometimes it's something you really identify with and sometimes you come to appreciate new things from it.

I suspect I have a very different view to yourself, Ange!

#5 Mitis angelam

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

I don't know...for me, calling is linked to identity.  The God who created me, calls me to live out his creation to the fullest extent.  It's also linked to gifting - we're all gifted differently, in order to serve one another.  To me, my identity and my calling are found where my greatest gifting and passion meets the world's greatest need.

Don't get me wrong - there've been plenty of times I've been cleaning up the vomit, alcohol and needles left on the steps of the church (CBD location is a mixed blessing) and known that sometimes it's purely a matter of availability!  But I've also known that that is only part of the bigger picture of my life.

#6 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:54 PM

I can see how it's that way for you. 'Being Called'  is more of an organisational thing the way I am used to seeing it. Some people really 'feel called'.

I never have.

Edited by howdo, 02 January 2013 - 04:54 PM.

#7 Mitis angelam

Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:06 PM

Then on what basis does the religious organisation assign people to different tasks, in your experience?

#8 Lees75

Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

I have lots of thoughts on this, but have to go do the grocery shopping- lol! I will be back later:)

#9 Expelliarmus

Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:24 PM

For mine, they are extended a calling. In practice the Ward Council (leaders of Ward organisations or 'Ministries') considers which tasks need to be done and relevant people (president and assistants of that 'Ministry') put forward names of people whom they prayerfully consider to be suited to the task. The person who needs to submit a name prayerfully considers by engaging in prayer and them remaining open to hear God. When they have a name impressed upon them by God this name is submitted to the Bishop (or in the case of a higher level of calling to whomever presides at that level).

The Bishop (or whomever it is considering the calling) confers with his assistants (counsellors) on the matter and then one of them has a conversation with the person to extend the call. The person selected for the task can accept or reject the calling. Mostly people accept, sometimes they go away to confirm the calling through their own prayer and sometimes they refuse.

Only when all parties feel the calling to be right, and from God is the person formally called. They are presented to the congregation who must then ratify that decision. The person is then set apart to take on that role by priesthood leaders.

IME some people 'feel' the calling and some do not. Some only 'feel' it after they have done the calling for a while. I don't usually 'feel' it. I do feel happier about working with children and youth or in teaching roles than in my current role for example. So that' possibly 'my thing' I don't see it as a vocation though - just the area I enjoy and that is evident in my choice of career!

I don't feel 'called' to do anything though. The feeling just isn't that strong and I am open to performing service in many ways, or being called to do various things. I know that sometimes people are surprised by a calling but it fits like a glove from the moment they are set apart.

I'm not a very spiritual person, not really. I enjoy serving in some places more than others though. I'm probably not making it any clearer ... but that's what I mean by Vocation not being tied to religion. Since I was 18 I have worked with 3yos, children's music, FREQUENTLY with the babies (18mths-3yrs), with 4-6yos, teaching youth 14-16yo in both unisex Sunday School and the Girls' youth programs, teaching the women's auxiliary and as various forms of secretary for youth and women's organisations at several levels. Right now I'm arm waving for the women's auxiliary meetings on Sunday and I don't feel it's my thing at all! My profession is definitely closer to any vocation I might feel right now!

#10 reneelovescraig

Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:14 PM

I really like the following quote by Frederick Buechner:  ‘Your vocation is to be found where your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need’.

What is your favourite thing to do?
Where are you needest the most?

Find where the above two points meet, and that is your vocation. Could be to be a mother to your children, a doctor, a teacher, a missionary overseas, etc

My "niche" or my vocation is also a ministry at church; I interpret for the Deaf into Auslan. I feel most fulfilled when I am doing it. I am passionate about it and others affirm my skills. I am fully confident that it is God's will for my life to do it.

#11 TeaTimeTreat

Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

I don't know if this is relevant but I have always been happiest working with children, having my own child is part of that but I feel called, if that is the right word to also help children who are having a hard time, so foster care, respite care, social work etc. Right now my own child and my studies mean I can't go any further with it but hopefully one day I will get there.

I imagine in the church it would be a combination of what people feel God want's them to be/do and what the church/community needs right now, I can see how it would be hard to balance those things.

Edited by sparkler, 02 January 2013 - 11:31 PM.

#12 Mitis angelam

Posted 03 January 2013 - 08:26 AM

QUOTE (sparkler @ 03/01/2013, 12:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I imagine in the church it would be a combination of what people feel God want's them to be/do and what the church/community needs right now, I can see how it would be hard to balance those things.

Also hard sometimes when the church isn't open to the possibility of change; I think for example of the long fight for women's ordination.

#13 **Tiger*Filly**

Posted 03 January 2013 - 09:41 PM


Edited by Tyrone Finkelmeyer, 26 March 2013 - 08:25 PM.

#14 Mitis angelam

Posted 03 January 2013 - 09:48 PM

QUOTE (**Tiger*Filly** @ 03/01/2013, 10:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It can be really painful to have such a strong sense of being called to do something, it can be uncomfortable, it can mean a lot of sacrifice, and it requires you to put the vocation above everything else. Of course sometimes he also loves it.

yyes.gif  Ooohhh yes.  How big is the fish in the other direction, again?

#15 la di dah

Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:53 PM

I hope I someday find a sense of vocation instead just a feeling of conflicted principals and wanting stuff I can't have.

There's so many issues there. Seminary? Some stuff about it feels right and other stuff feels all wrong and in a fairly thoroughly unfixable way. I can't even sort out what denomination I should be in.

I think some of it would be easier if I had been born a man. I don't know that that's a true fact and not just frustration, though. Perhaps I would just be differently conflicted. Or I'm using the gender thing as a safe outlet since I'm in no "danger" of it being solved.

And then there's my marriage. Hrm. Doesn't help. But I'm not sorry  I married him.

I feel like I made some choices a long time ago maybe I oughtn't have.

#16 Mitis angelam

Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:55 PM

FWIW, la di dah, I don't know anybody who didn't have any issues with seminary.  I think it's designed to make you confront your issues!

#17 farfaraway

Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:06 PM

I think I do. I've been a teacher for a long time but at the start of last year had a strong feeling that I wasn't where I was meant to be. I'm re-training as a Youth Worker - I feel equal parts thrilled and ridiculous. I'll make even less money in this field, it will be heartbreaking and frustrating, but there's some deeper/higher force that tells me it's what I'm meant to do. DH simply cannot fathom that reasoning, supportive as he is. I think there is a faith dimension to my sense of vocation (I'm catholic, he's non-religious) that is hard to put into words.

Ange Vert, as an aside, I really enjoy your posts. I rarely comment, I'm more of a lurker, but you always give me juicy ideas to ponder so for that I thank you!


Edited by farfaraway, 06 January 2013 - 09:07 PM.

#18 la di dah

Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:20 PM

QUOTE (bellygood @ 06/01/2013, 09:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What she said! I've read about vocation, more along the lines of how Ange Vert has described it, and long for that in my own life.  LDD maybe its already there, maybe we are already doing it and can't see it?

Maybe? I feel pretty dumb about it. I feel like I don't even know what I want. Other people [not dissing anyone] talk about just listen to your heart and think about what you really want but I don't know what the hell my heart is saying, beyond possibly I drink too much caffeine!

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 06/01/2013, 09:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
FWIW, la di dah, I don't know anybody who didn't have any issues with seminary.  I think it's designed to make you confront your issues!

That is probably true. But I have both geography issues and biology issues. I am hitting a lot of issues with denomination and sex and blah blah blah its probably all very stupid but I don't know.

I do wonder if I would have done things differently if I had been a man. Probably. But big help now, right?

Sorry, I don't mean to be self-indulgent.

#19 lucky 2

Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:08 PM

So I wondered if we could have a chat - do you have a sense of vocation? How did it come about? Did you test it, or run it past others? How did they respond? Do you think the concept is bollocks, or a dangerous prop to ego? In short, what do you think of the idea? I'd love to hear from people with different experiences to me...

I don't know whether it is vocation or something else but I had a waking "dream" when I was 33 and it left me with a desire to specialise in an area of health care.
I worked towards this goal and I encountered some very challenging situations.
The course affected me deeply, it unearthed all sorts of emotional issues and it was a period of growth, actually it still is, I find out new things about others and myself almost every day.
I've further specialised since then and I feel I am working in the type of role that is suited to me and I feel it allows me to use so many of my positive personal attributes.
I feel I do have a lot to give and I have always wanted to give in some way or another, to give service to others and I can do this in my current role.
On one hand if I think about what I have written then it does seem egotistical but on the other hand I might as well go with it, it's not as if I am perfect or that I never make mistakes because I do.
I've still got a lot to learn and experience and I am grateful for the opportunities my work gives me.

#20 Mitis angelam

Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:29 PM

QUOTE (la di dah @ 06/01/2013, 10:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Maybe? I feel pretty dumb about it. I feel like I don't even know what I want. Other people [not dissing anyone] talk about just listen to your heart and think about what you really want but I don't know what the hell my heart is saying, beyond possibly I drink too much caffeine!

My denomination runs a programme called a "year of discernment" designed specifically for people to figure out what the hell their hearts are saying.  Is there anything similar in Judaism?

QUOTE (la di dah @ 06/01/2013, 10:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sorry, I don't mean to be self-indulgent.

Self-indulgent?  I did ask the question!

#21 la di dah

Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:01 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 06/01/2013, 11:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My denomination runs a programme called a "year of discernment" designed specifically for people to figure out what the hell their hearts are saying.  Is there anything similar in Judaism?

Self-indulgent?  I did ask the question!

In general? Almost definitely. I could look up what's available in Australia but from what I can tell they're flying American-ordained rabbis in. They might have that kind of preliminary course here though.

I'd have to do the degree itself overseas though. It's eight years and a significant amount of travel.

That's aside from the even stickier stuff about what I exactly want, and what I SHOULD want. And what's right or fair on my husband, too. I really don't know. I feel stuck on the same points for, like, years now, and I sorta wanna kick myself in the mouth.

The thing is I haven't even worked out if what I want is the rabbinical side of things or if I just like learning/reading/nerding about/observances and if I could do those things as a layperson - even, possibly, a more "strict" layperson than the denominations that would accept a female rabbi. If that makes sense. A specially and extensively trained Masorti rabbi or your basic Orthodox woman, iykwim.

I feel stuck on the same points for, like, years now, and I sorta wanna kick myself in the mouth.

Edited by la di dah, 06 January 2013 - 11:06 PM.

#22 Mitis angelam

Posted 18 May 2013 - 03:36 PM

I just put this quote into an essay, and it reminded me of this thread, and I wondered if it would spark further discussion:

“For the majority of lay Christians, their vocation and mission consist primarily in their lives in the world, in family life and in their places of work, but also in the community, in charities and organizations concerned with what it has become popular to call ‘civil society,’ and in politics…The church has been the place at which Christians have gathered for corporate worship, but not the context in which…their vocation [is] fulfilled during the week…Lay Christians are present and active alongside their neighbours in all aspects of community life, not excluding their workplaces, and it is there that their witness is proclaimed and their ministry exercised…faithfully and meaningfully.”

Although I can hear the EB howls of protest at the idea that vocation might include involvement in politics already! wink.gif

#23 lucky 2

Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:41 PM

That quote rings very true to me, me who has been involved in Christian communities but not involved at present.
When I was in the last community this was very important.
It has more relevence to me as someone who will always be outside or on the fringes of any Church (well that's how I feel at present, things can change at any moment).
I don't mind at all if a Politician is motived in this way, I'd be fine about that and I've known "powerful" people in the community who have such motivations. I thi
nk the point is that it is not something that is talked about publically, so we would not be likely to know the motivations, only their words and deeds.

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