Who Has God Made You to Be? Visually Explore a Theology of Vocation
How do you discover who God has made you to be, what gifts and skills he’s given you, and what responsibilities he’s entrusted to you?
Tim Challies and Josh Byers are here to help.
In their new book Visual Theology, they plumb the depths of a theology of vocation in a way that’s both engaging and informative to help believers live out “whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” (1 Corinthians 7:17)
Below we've briefly engaged their four aspects of vocation to provide insight into our probing questions about calling. Here’s what you’ll discover:
What we do is closely related to who we are. And as a Christian, you are responsible to give all of who you are and what you do to the Lord. (119)
Vocation is God’s Work
Vocation, derived from the latin vocātiō, meaning "a call, summons,” was originally a theologically pregnant Christian term referring to one’s divine summoning. Which makes sense. Because as Challies explains, “God chooses to bring about extraordinary provision through ordinary people and ordinary means.” (121) In other words, our work is God’s work.
God feeds us through patient farmers who grow wheat, sugar, and oil, so that skilled bakers can weave the fruits-of-their-labor into bread. God educates and equips kids with skills to live productive lives through teachers. God chooses to diagnose our ailments through lab technicians and heal us through doctors, nurses, and surgeons.
“The doctrine of vocation tells Christians how to live in this world. But it goes farther than that, to explain how God is at work in this world. He is at work through the people he has created.” (120)
Vocation is Varied
When it comes to vocation, typically we think about the career we have on our LinkedIn profile. Challies says this is a mistake: “a thorough understanding of vocation teaches us that we all have many areas for which we are responsible before the Lord.” (121)
I am a husband to Melinda and a father to Simon; a citizen of America and a neighbor on Shiloh Pines Avenue; and a writer for a number of publishers. These are all vocations, and they’re all imbued with the same crucial purpose: to do good to others and bring glory to God.
Individually and all together, they are a platform from God that allows me to extend to others the goodness and kindness of God on behalf of God. And whenever I do this, however I do this, God receives the glory. (122)
What about you? What are your platforms for doing good and bringing God glory?
Vocation is Dignifying
“When we understand that vocation is extending the goodness and grace of God to others, to serve as the ‘mask of God,’ we understand that in a sense all vocations are equal. All of them have the highest dignity.” (122)
Challies explains that the doctor who performs careful brain surgery is in the same line of work as the man who hauls away his trash each week. Same for the retail associate who sold the pastor his Sunday preaching suit; the server who brought food out to the mom and her children at Panera; the guy at Kinko’s who printed off that author’s manuscript for edits.
That’s because these jobs flow from the same source: they’re all working on behalf of God.
“Your vocation is your day-by-day opportunity to glorify God by serving others and, in that way, serve as a faithful representative of the God who glorifies himself by serving others.” (124) Regardless of the specifics.
Vocation is Worship-Inspiring
Finally, doing the things God has created us to do, seeing people live out their divine callings, and receiving the benefits of people’s labor is meant to lead to worship.
You bring worship and glory to God when you serve others with the skills, gifts, and passions that God has given you. And you give opportunities for others to glorify God as they observe you working on his behalf. Vocation also leads to worship when you praise God for the way he cares for you through others. (126)
Two and half years ago, the surgeon who diagnosed and removed my thyroid cancer brought glory to God when he served me with the skills and passions God gave him for medicine. In turn, he gave me the opportunity to glorify God for his common and specific grace.
Vocation is both an instrument and vehicle for glorifying God.
“Who has God made you to be? What gifts, skills, and passions has God given you? What roles and responsibilities has he assigned to you? Your vocations are found right there.” (127)
Join Challies and Byers in exploring theology visually and discovering how each of your vocations “is to be done out of love for God and for the good of people he has created in his image.” (127)
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