Vocation. Work. Calling.
Ministry. Family. Life.
Vocation is a word that often evokes the idea of work. Yet vocation is not just work.
Vocation may bring to the top of your mind the idea of calling. Yet vocation is more than calling.
Vocation is often synonymous with ministry or religious service to the church. And yet vocation is not limited to working in or for the church.
Occasionally vocation is associated with one’s experience of family. Some traditions and theologies try to make the case that the only appropriate vocation for women is their work inside their homes with their families.
We reject the simplistic division of labor between women who work in home and family for no pay, and men who work for wages outside the home. Even when this harmful and impractical ideal has been rejected and deconstructed, the Victorian division of labor still shapes expectations and sometimes invokes guilt.
New social configurations of family and work are emerging everywhere around us.
I want to reclaim these two aspects of vocation – work and family – as intertwined and mutually informing ways to approach our lives and obligations in the world.
In this week’s episode of Three Minute Ministry Mentor, I survey some of the images and stories that study participants in the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project have shared with us about their vocations of family and work.
Vocation is not just work. Neither is it only a calling to work. Nor is it only a division of labor between family and work. Instead, I want to help us think about how the callings to work (in all its many forms and varieties of labor) and family (in all its many forms, inherited and chosen) are goods for our lives.
No matter how messy, shifting or entangled these two callings are in our lives, we need both to sustain, uphold and nourish us.
When it comes to learning and embodying the practice of ministry, cultivating a flexible pastoral imagination, then we need to know who our people are. We need people in our lives who have our backs, and support our learning, and with whom we share compassionate, mutual obligations.
Whether this kind of vocation for family is a family of origin, a family of choice, a partner for life, adopted children, birth children, a religious order of sisters or brothers, a communal living arrangement, or framily (friends who are family, as one of my friends likes to call it), we need this kind of space for our well being.
We live in a time when family, work, ministry, and thus vocation are being re-defined. Navigating the ways that we put our life force into the world, follow the inklings of meaning and purpose that seem to be given to us, and join forces with other people to make family and community which are just and loving, we need new ways to think about vocation.
How are you navigating these two vocations – among others – in your life?
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