Martin Luther and Vocations, pt. 2

God created each of us to play a unique and meaningful role in society.  He intended that we be linked by love, serving one another out of friendship while always benefiting the community at large.  As each one serves through his God-given measures of capacity and influence, people are taken care of and real needs are met.  William Perkins, the only Puritan author to describe callings in a systematic way, emphasized calling as “a certain kind of life ordained and imposed on man by God for the common good” [Treatise of the Vocations or Callings of Men (John Legat, Printer to the University of Cambridge, 1605)].

                    Martin Luther

                    Martin Luther

One of Luther’s examples, enhanced by Gene Edward Veith, helps us better understand the value and integration of our vocations: “We pray in the Lord’s Prayer that God would give us our daily bread, which He does.  He does so, not directly as when He gave manna to the Israelites, but through the work of farmers and bakers”, and we might add truck drivers and retailers.  “In effect, the whole economic system is the means by which God gives us our daily bread.  Each part of the economic food chain is a vocation, through which God works to distribute His gifts.  Similarly, God heals the sick.  While He can and sometimes does do so directly, in the normal course of things He works through doctors, nurses, and other medical experts.  God protects us from evil, with the vocation of the police officer.  God teaches through teachers, orders society through governments, proclaims the Gospel through pastors.  Luther pointed out that God could populate the Earth by creating each new generation of babies from the dust.  Instead, He ordained that human beings should come together to bring up children in families.  The offices of husband, wife, and parent are vocations through which God works to rear and care for children.”

Veith continues, “God is graciously at work, caring for the human race through the work of other human beings.  Behind the care we have received from our parents, the education we received from our teachers, the benefits we receive from our spouse, our employers, and our government, stands God Himself, bestowing His blessings. 

“The picture is of a vast, complex society of human beings with different talents and abilities.  Each serves the other; each is served by others.  We Americans have an ideal of self-sufficiency and often dream of being able to grow our own food, build our own homes, and live independently of other people.  But our proper human condition is dependence.  Because of the centrality of love, we are to depend on other human beings and through them, and ultimately, we depend on God.  Conversely other people are to depend on us.  In God’s earthly kingdom we are to receive His blessings from other people through their vocations.”

Winkie Pratney has taken this idea a step further.  In unison with the early thought that the Dozen Domains are rooted in the character of God Himself, Winkie has been on a journey through the Scriptures to identify what He calls the “vocations of God”.  At last count, he had found almost forty vocations backed up with countless Scriptures where God Himself was operating in specific vocational expressions. Not only does Winkie’s observations reveal something to us about God, it also divinely validates and endorses our calls and vocations.

Reflection Points

  1. Consider your current vocation.  How does it reflect the character and ways of God by serving others?
  2. Who are the specific people that benefit from your vocation, your work, your calling?  Spend some time this week praying Father God’s heart for them.
  3. Who are the specific people that are benefiting you by their vocation, work, and calling?  Spend some time giving thanks for them this week.