Vocation = “calling”. It’s a truly radical idea. Although we may not think of vocation as being all that radical because as Lutherans we have been raised on the idea that we each have been called by God—that we each have a vocation (even vocations) to which we have been called—but before the Reformation, the whole notion of vocation was something primarily reserved for those who worked in the church. The work that ordinary, non-religious people did was necessary work but not holy or sacred like the work of priests, monks, nuns, etc.
Martin Luther himself was raised with this world view of the priestly and monastic life being a “higher calling” which is partly why he became a monk. But eventually, Luther discovered that being a monk didn’t somehow make him more important or holier than anyone else and that God, in fact, can and does use all people.
Dave Daubert in chapter 4 of our ‘Lutheran Trump Cards’ study writes, “The new insight for the church was that God can use people in all occupations and roles to serve as instruments. There is nothing more holy than to work as a parent, a farmer, a teacher, or any of the many other roles that people live out in the world…the life of faith helps provide meaning and purpose in all places, in all people and in all occupations…the vocation of the baptized frees all of us from the burden of finding that one special thing we can do that is pleasing to God. We are set loose to live out our lives and do God’s work in all that we do, whether we leave our current setting and go half way around the world or stay home and raise our kids and go to our current jobs.”
Or as Paul writes in Colossians 3:17 ‘Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ And then again in Colossians 3:23 ‘Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord.’