I have been researching vocations for the past year. This is a wide-ranging topic with many differing opinions. I am interested in the intersection of Christianity and vocations. Personally, for most of my life, there were few intersections. I first studied vocations during eighth-grade English class when we researched careers to write a paper. I decided to research medicine because I always liked physicians and their work that improved the health of our community.
During the research phase, I learned that doctors had to go to medical school for four years after graduating from a university. In addition, medical students learned practical medicine as interns and residents for another five years. Medical training that lasted until I was thirty years old did not appeal to me as I thought that four years of high school and four years of college were already a daunting task. At the young age of fourteen years old, the age of thirty was more than twice my age and seemed so far away. I also learned that medical school admissions was highly competitive. I read that the majority of applicants do not gain admission. The odds were against me and I wanted a more certain career choice. So, I dropped this career choice and moved on to other possibilities.
During high school, I found math and science courses interesting. I knew that engineers used math and science to solve practical problems, but little else except the fact that it was a well-paying occupation. And even better, I only needed a four-year engineering degree to obtain a professional job. This sealed my vocational decision.
Looking back, I should have explored many other vocations as my skill set could be applied in numerous directions. I did not spend much time thinking and researching this vast subject: I winged it and I surmise that most students follow my path. My Christian beliefs were separated from my vocational choice. I did not see an intersection.
Albert Marten Wolters, Emeritus Professor of Religion at Redeemer University College (Ancaster, Ontario) authored Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005). He defined worldview as “the comprehensive framework of one’s basic beliefs about things. … Beliefs are different from feelings or opinions because they make a ‘cognitive claim’ – that is, a claim to some kind of knowledge.” (page 2) While making my vocational choice, I did not have a worldview except that I wanted a good paying professional job in a vocation that I enjoyed. My beliefs were based on math and science principles applied to engineering problems. Nobody informed me of any other worldview that connected my Christian faith to a vocational choice.
Christians base their worldview beliefs on Scripture. But turning to Scripture for determining a vocation choice isn’t very helpful:
“Scripture does not decide that question for him [student deciding on graduate studies]. Instead it gives him certain indispensable guidelines: he must seek the Lord’s will in all things, he must be a good steward of the gifts God gives him, he must do all to the glory of God. … He must continually check back with Scripture to make sure his bearings are right, but he would be foolish and irresponsible if he let stray text decide the matter for him without considering available graduate schools, his own talents and temperament, specific historical needs, and so on.” (page 37)
My study of Scripture informs me that God gives humans gifts to be used as good stewards of the earth’s resources and to build community by loving our neighbors. God gave me gifts that could have been used as a medical doctor, math teacher, businessman, or computer scientist. All these vocations are equally acceptable to God if used for the common good. God gave me the freedom to decide on my vocation within the boundaries of stewardship and community. I study Scripture to understand God’s boundaries and guidelines. Our many vocational choices are part of a discipleship journey towards the kingdom of God guided by Scripture. “All human talents and abilities can flourish and blossom under the regenerating and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit to the glory and service of God.” (page 106)