not alone: career as Vocation?

not alone seriesThis week’s prompt: Careers as a Vocation?
(How do we know what God’s call is for us if we are focused on our careers? Is it appropriate to focus on that career and then get married/enter religious life later? Or maybe the call/vocation IS the career and you could be single?)

I’m actually really pumped for this week’s prompt. I’ve often said that I have a vocation to ministry and working for the Church, and I do, so long as we are defining vocation as a calling. It takes a special kind of person to work for the Church, just as it takes a special kind of person to be a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer. But when it comes to our Vocation (and for this post I’ll capitalize it to note the difference), your career cannot be your Vocation.

I’m going to toe a pretty firm line on this one: your Vocation is one of three options as a lady:

(1) married life

(2) religious life

(3) consecrated single life

Now, I understand that many women out there desire married life but don’t end up married. Cindy, over at The Veil of Chastity, beautifully explains this as a “missed marriage vocation.” Missed or not, there are three Vocations, period. Note that “Career” is not a Vocation.

not alone career as vocationLast year I was talking with a youth minister friend of mine about the vocation of youth ministry and her recent marriage. She honestly and plainly said something that has stuck with me since then, “I’m learning very quickly that my only vocation is to marriage and that youth ministry is my job, and I’m also learning to check myself on that frequently.” In no uncertain terms she laid out what has been on my heart for so long: as much as I love my job, it is not my Vocation. My “little v” vocation certainly seems to be ministry, but my “big V” Vocation is marriage, and to confuse the two now only hurts me (and my future spouse) in the long run. Of course being yet-unmarried allows me more time for my vocation at the present time, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t prepare now for my Vocation. If I begin to think that my vocation/career/job is my Vocation then I do my Vocation (and the God who gives me such a Vocation…and vocation) a disservice.

In some ways this difference between vocation and Vocation is similar to the difference between a god and God. When we make other things – money, fame, power, stability, etc. – a God we do the real God a disservice. Our gods cannot be God. Our vocation cannot be our Vocation. Just as if we serve gods we are not serving God, if we make our vocation into our Vocation, we aren’t really serving the Truth. Your career, wonderful and holy though it may be, is not your Vocation. Confusing the two only leads to confusion and frustration. Furthermore, for those of us called to marriage, when our husbands/wives come along, if we have let ourselves think that our career is our Vocation we risk making our marriage merely a vocation rather than a Sacramental Marriage. Is that really what we are after? Do we want to be married to our careers? I love my career and the work that God calls me to, but I have no desire to be married to my job. I have a desire to be married to a husband, to a loving, holy man, husband, and father, one who seeks the will of the Father in all things. My career can’t do that. My career can’t fulfill me and the life God is calling me to like my Vocation can, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

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