Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Symptoms of Avoiding Vocations

I've been thinking and praying a lot lately about using our time and gifts well, and doing what God would have us do.

Evangelical and Charismatic Christians speak often about having a "call" to do this or that. They use this language sometimes to mean that they have a strong desire to do something, have prayed about it, and really want to do it. Other times they will say that they "are called by God," and this is an excuse not to do something you want them to.

In one sense these Christians have it right. God has given each of us gifts and a vocation--a calling, a situation, a place in which to serve Him and our neighbors. Working in our vocation is, truly, doing what God has called us to do. When they speak of their vocations in this lofty sense, they do all of us the favor of reminding us that our lives are for something, for other people's good and for His glory. There are questions that such an understanding raises, however. Questions like, "How do I know what my vocations is? How can I be certain it is from God and not from me?" and "How do I change vocations?"

But I've been thinking about another question: what happens when you don't do your vocation, when you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing? How can you tell you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing?

It is true that our enemy works to keep us from attaining God's will. The devil tempts us away from doing what we ought, and when we succumb, we suffer. So when you are not doing your vocation(s), life stinks. You feel guilty when doing other things, and they do not bring you much joy. You feel tired for no reason. These are symptoms similar to depression, but in this case, it is a spiritual phenomena, not biochemical.

Another symptom of avoiding your vocation is that when you cannot do it, you want to, but when you have time, our flesh and our enemy distracts you and keeps you from fulfilling it. For example, at work and on the way home you want to see your children and play with them, but when you finally arrive home, you find yourself tired from the commute and distressed that the house is messy and the children are loud, and all you want to do is get the house clean and the children eating, or in bed, or doing homework quietly. However, once they are all in bed, you talk to your spouse about trying to be a better parent, and find that you are telling each other stories about funny things the kids did and pining at how fast they grow up. Sound familiar? It does to me. Our enemy has spent another day keeping you from your vocation as parent and you and your children suffer for it.

We must arm ourselves against this. Recognize those symptoms of avoidance and pray for strength to overcome. Recognize what you spend your time thinking about, and pray that God will help you shift the balance from thinking to doing, from pining and thinking to acting and enjoying. In doing this, we are doing what God would have us do, living in the moment, living for today.


  1. Rev. Jonathan C. Watt said...

    Nice post pastor!

  2. orrologion said...

    I once asked my priest what the Fathers say the talents are in the parable of the talents. Dovetailing with your post, he noted that the talents are 'options' that we are given and we either take advantage of them or we do not. Either way, there are always options presented to us, even if we choose away from what we 'should' have chosen.

    But, in reality, there are no shoulds apart from have faith in God, receive the sacraments, follow the commandments and practice the Beatitudes. None of us were meant to do this or that particular job, play this sport, go to this school, marry this person. We have options, and they can all lead to him.