“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”
Life is a stewardship. We are caretakers and managers of a world and a life that did not derive from us. This understanding is basic to the Christian life but it does not come naturally. The parsimon of the self has a way of resolving even this fundamental role into terms that reflect self-interest.
One way we see this is in equating talents or abilities with what we term the ‘call’ to Christian vocation. If you are good at math, perhaps you would make a decent engineer or church treasurer. Or, if you are good with your hands you might make a good carpentar and serve on the property committee. This is what we might call the vocational guidance approach to ministry. Now, in many instances this can be a good guide and I am not deploring it but the call to Christian vocation involves something else.
Supposing a man has a real talent for robbing banks. He does not have a call to rob banks. A woman has a real talent for manipulating her way up the corporate ladder, crushing others in the process. She has no call to do this. Or a business leader uses his leadership skill to manipulate a church council to his advantage. He has no call to do this.
A classmate of mine in the seminary graduated summa-cum-laude from a major university. He was president of his class, had a four point grade average all four years, gave the graduation speech and received several scholarships to pretigious graduate schools. He knew what he wanted to do, then something happened. When he finished the seminary he answered a call to a very small congregation in the far north woods of Minnesota, far from the expectations he and others had for him.
There is an element of ‘ought’ to the call to Christian vocation, whether lay or pastor. In the end, it is not sufficient to equate Christian service with what I am good at within myself. This may be nothing more than self interest, however benignly, disguising itself in religion. I must also ask the question, ‘What ought I do?’
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”