A calling or a vocation?

Another post from a few years ago…

As a Latter-day Saint my service is very much linked with my calling in the Church. For a period of time this “calling” gives me specific responsibilities with regard to where I serve and how I serve. However, an interesting part of the callings that people receive is that they are time limited. As an example I served as a Bishop within the Church for nearly five years, I always knew that it would be for approximately that length of time. As I was released from my calling, the responsibilities and duties towards certain tasks and people ended. I am oversimplifying slightly, as I continue to live in the same ward eight years later, and the feelings of love and responsibility still continue.

I think this might be most members of the church’s experience and attitude to the callings they hold: they exist for a finite period of time, during which time we serve and learn to help us fulfil that calling, and perhaps the ones that will come in the future.

I attended a conference this week with a number of Anglicans and Roman Catholics where various speakers, including myself, discussed Christian attitudes to teaching and learning. I heard the word “calling” mentioned a few times, but the word “vocation” mentioned far more. Indeed, when calling was used it was as a synonym for vocation. One speaker described vocation as giving people the sense of where God wants them to be, what God wants them to do, how God wants them to do it, and who God wants them to be. I have always felt that my vocation was to teach, but in times past I have thought it meant the gifts I was given to fulfil my purpose in the world. As a Latter-day Saint I really hadn’t considered my vocation as overarching and a big part of God’s plan for me. My calling was the responsibility from God that I sought most to develop.

Certainly, my calling can link to my vocation, but my vocation goes throughout my life to make sure that I am trying to be who God wants me to be, and serving who God wants me to serve. This is not limited to my calling within the church. I feel that the professional life that I have led has been a part of God’s plan for me. Maybe if I reflected on this fact a little bit more, God would be able to work through me a lot more in every aspect of my life.

If I have a calling that does not link with my vocation, though I’m struggling hard to think of what such a calling might be, that does not mean that my vocation ends, or is held in abeyance. Rather, that my vocation is added to through new experiences of formally serving where God wants me to, but also continues as I strive to develop and live my vocation as revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, both in my spare time and in every other aspect of my life. I have promised to wear the armour of God as a continual protection, I should similarly develop and live my vocation continually.
My vocation is not defined by my calling, but enhanced through the continued development of both.

However, a calling is easy to identify; it is what we are asked to do by those in authority, a vocation is a bit harder to find. But, vocation can similarly be recognised as what we are asked to do by God. As I seek the Holy Spirit I am led to know the direction that God would have me take, the people I should reach out to, and the gifts that I have to do such. Our vocations may change throughout our lives, but we will know as we are guided by the Spirit.