I’ve been considering lately the toils, the labors, the works of man and how they fit in the universe and in the economy of the universe’s creator—YHWH. Recently I pointed out in a sermon that the word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, meaning “to call.” Our occupation should be viewed as a calling. However, this is not the only calling on our lives. We each live out three calls:
- Our Highest Calling—to walk with and honor God;
- Our Common Calling—to obey the commands of God;
- Our Specific Calling—to work in our occupation.
Our highest calling and common calling are so intertwined as to be almost indistinguishable. We cannot live out our highest calling unless we obey the commands making up our common calling. The only way to live out the common calling properly is to do it while walking with God—our highest calling. Yet, these two are not identical. Walking with God is far deeper and richer than simple mindless acquiescence to a set of rules and commands. Walking with God is a relationship; and interaction. At the same time, this walk with God will never lead us to violate the commands of God. The obedience in our common calling springs from living out of our highest calling—not the other way around.
So we express our highest calling through our common calling, but where do we live out these callings? We do this in the realm of our specific calling. It is in our occupations, the tasks and toils of daily life, where “the rubber meets the road.” This is where what we believe is lived out and where our relationship with God is demonstrated.
For too long we have viewed church as the place where the Christian life is lived. However, very little of the Christian life is lived in church. Church is a training camp, where you come to learn how to live the life in the world. The church is a clinic where you come to get treated for the bumps and bruises that come from living the Christian life in the world. The church is a place where you can encourage others, through your example, to live the Christian life in the world. Do you recognize a pattern? It is not how you live in Church that demonstrates your commitment to God. This is demonstrated by how you live in your career; in your business.
Commitment to your highest and common callings are seen, not in how many church services you attend or how many Sunday School classes you teach, but in how you respond to your co-workers, your boss, your clients, your employees. You demonstrate these when you are fair to customers. You demonstrate these when you treat your boss with the respect of his position. You demonstrate these when you pay your vendors on time. You demonstrate these by how you treat (and compensate) your employees.
For the Christian, our work in the world is every bit as sacred as a church service. Paying our debts and compensating our employees is just as much an act of devoted stewardship as dropping money in the offering plate. The way we speak to a client on the phone is just as God-honoring as any chorus sung in praise to the God of heaven.