If your mother is drowning in one location and two strangers in another, should you save your mother or the two strangers?
The feast of resources on discipleship, faith and work, and theologies of vocation continues to grow. Doug Koskela provides another serving, this one intended for young adults.
Long before I sat in Senate hearing rooms listening to witness testimony, I sat in lecture halls at Yale listening to professors dissect Paul.
One time at a women’s retreat, I was asked to tell my call story. I told this woman the whole, convoluted story—about serving as a missionary in Japan, about being restless in my work and volunteering for leadership roles in my church, about discovering old journals where I had written about my desire to study theology, about my memory of sitting in church as a teenager and hearing the pastor give the sermon and saying, “If I was a man, that is what I would want to do.” I told her that it had taken me a long time, but I finally realized that God was calling me to be a pastor. She was not impressed.
Shortly after my most recent move, my long-time boyfriend and I ended our relationship. The next week, I was scheduled to preach. I'm part of a multi-pastor church, and my colleagues graciously offered to step in and preach in my place. But I was stubborn. I decided that I wanted—no, needed—to preach.
I was sitting in a seminary classroom, taking part in an internship program, and the professor was waxing eloquently about calling. It was all good. She was quoting Frederick Buechner and Howard Thurman, and describing vocation as our deepest joy and what makes us come alive.
I am intrigued by the emphasis on call in 1 Samuel 16. Because I am a theological educator, I am even more fascinated by the role each of us can play in nurturing someone’s sense of call. Saul and David are the key “called” protagonists in the story. But it is Samuel who carries, clarifies, and extends God’s call.
We all live with many callings in life, and the greatest is not to be a pastor—much less to be in the right job at a particular congregation.
The call of Abram is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. I have moved quite a lot, and the experience of packing up my life in England to move to the U.S. nearly three years ago is still fresh in my memory. The challenges that face Abram and his family are exciting, probably daunting, but certainly not without their cost. I love the way the call is vague about the destination: it seems that getting moving is more important than knowing the final details.