In big letters, at the top of the Geneva College Career Development website, it says these words: “embrace your calling.”
Similar to worldview, passion and– truthfully— Jesus, calling was a word that Geneva professors and students tossed around haphazardly, in my opinion. What’s your calling? Some would ask.
Calling, as I understood it, was a Christianized word for career. God is calling you to a line of work, to a job. Calling was something that needed to be figured out, and if you didn’t know what it was, you just weren’t praying hard enough.
As someone who has never felt a strong “call” to one career or another, I had to roll my eyes at the notion.
If God is calling me, why is decision-making IMPOSSIBLE? And, if I don’t feel a divine calling, does that mean I don’t have a purpose?
Remember Hurricane Katrina?
After the storm, I felt a pull (a calling, maybe) to the Gulf Coast. Immediately, I went online to find out where Lutheran Disaster Response was working (because I knew they would be working… immediately). Phone calls were made– to the Lutherans, to interested classmates– and tentative plans were made to travel to Camp Victor in Mississippi during my Fall Break.
In the end, it didn’t work out. Our break was too short, we were entirely too broke, it just couldn’t happen.
But it felt like God was calling!
Little did I know that five years later, in a staff meeting in my new university’s Office of Career Services, I learn that the school is looking for staff members to supervise students on alternative spring break trips all over the country. The trip is free. Free. My favorite word. Where do I sign up?
I am placed with 9 students who will be working in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
We will be working in partnership with Camp Victor.
As I spend more time reflecting on the idea, the clearer it becomes to me that my calling isn’t necessarily tied up in my specific career decisions. I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t really matter if I decide to be a School Counselor, or a Butcher, Baker, or Candlestick maker.
The call that matters is the one that was given to us at our baptism, which is this:
To live among God’s faithful people.
To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper.
To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed.
To serve all people, following the example of Jesus.
To strive for justice and peace in all the Earth.
So, I was called to Mississippi, but maybe not in the way that I understood it, previously. My job isn’t to try to listen for some sort of heavenly pull towards something, but rather to open my eyes and ears to the daily opportunities to participate in my baptismal call.
What does that look like for you? Sending a message to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while? Being a little more patient with your children? Recycling? Volunteering to give a children’s sermon every once-in-a-while so your curly-headed youth director doesn’t have to do it every week? Sending some money to The Red Cross or Lutheran World Relief to be used in Japan?