There are two definitions of vocation. The most common is that it’s synonymous with job. However, the word is also sometimes used in the sense of a calling: as in a religious calling.
I once felt that I had a calling. Believe it or not, it was to the ministry. I was only a teenager when I began to feel seriously about The Call, but I think it started many years prior to that, when I was perhaps eight or nine years old.
My dad and I were walking up the church steps one fine, sunny Sunday morn when an elderly lady declared, “Here come the two ministers.” You see, my dad had been a lay pastor for a few years. I was born during that period, so those times couldn’t have been all bad. Apparently, this elderly lady was inspired to prophesy that I would follow in his footsteps. A declaration like that tends to stick with a young fellow.
However, as I neared the end of high school also felt pulled in another direction. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I felt a calling to become a teacher, but I certainly felt a drawing to that profession.
I’m not sure that I ever agonized over the choice, but I did ponder the alternatives verbally one day.
It was then that my dad pretty well advised me to eschew the ministry. From his experiences, Dad gave me the only piece of advice that I can ever recall him offering me by saying to bear in mind that I was not the son of a pastor (which he certainly hadn’t been for a long time by then). What I have always assumed that he meant was that nepotism was rampant in our affiliation, and that I wasn’t in a position to compete well with the chosen. Having since seen ministers hire their uninspiring sons and family members to their staffs, I can verify that Dad knew whereof he spoke.
Off I went to university and into teaching. I briefly flirted with the notion of reversing careers after a few years into my life of pedagogy because I had been forced to transfer schools due to the vagaries of enrollment, and I was feeling a bit disabused and abused.
That notion didn’t last long, however.
As it turns out, we need to be leery of callings that occur at a young age: indeed, perhaps at any age.