Tell me, I ask …

Tell me, I ask of you, where will we get by all these labors of ours? What are we seeking for? To what purpose do we serve in office? What higher ambition can we have at court than to become friends of the emperor? In such a position what is there that is not fragile and full of peril? By how many perils do we arrive at a greater peril? When will we get there? But to become God’s friend, if I wish it, see, I become one here and now.”

Augustine’s Confessions (8:6)

What God Does Not Call Us To

But if in anything we take more upon us than we have time well to perform it in, without robbing God of that which is due to him and our own souls, this God calls not unto, this he blesses us not in. It is more tolerable that our duties of holiness and regard to God should entrench upon the duties of our calling and employments in this world than on the contrary; and yet neither does God require this at our hands, in an ordinary manner or course.

– John Owen, The Power and Efficacy of Indwelling Sin

Today’s Professional

The man of today is no longer able to understand his neighbor because his profession is his whole life, and the technical specialization of this life has forced him to live in a closed universe. He no longer understands the vocabulary of others. Nor does he comprehend the underlying motivations of others

– Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, p. 132

Solitude as Vocation

It is clear to me that solitude is my vocation, not as a flight from the world but as my place in the world, because for me to find solitude is only to separate myself from all the forces that destroy me and destroy history, in order to be united with the Life and Peace that build the City of God in history and rescue the children of God from hell.

– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, pp. 257-58

My Vocation

My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: simply enjoy the study of God – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible  social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself, not only as a means to some practical consequence.

Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95

How to Know Your Vocation

It is only from one’s unique history of suffering that one can define accurately one’s own calling. Only from a particular history of special anguish and personal travail can one come to know how God is calling one to be present to the suffering world even as God the Son has become present to it.

— Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 94

Christian Work

Found this quote from Dorothy Sayers at Justin Taylor’s blog:

The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.

. . . Let the Church remember this: that every maker and worker is called to serve God in his profession or trade—not outside of it. The Apostles complained rightly when they said it was not meant they should leave the word of God and serve tables; their vocation was to preach the word. But the person whose vocation it is to prepare the meals beautifully might with equal justice protest: It is not meant for us to leave the service of our tables to preach the word.

The official Church wastes time and energy, and moreover, commits sacrilege, in demanding that secular workers should neglect their proper vocation in order to do Christian work—by which she means ecclesiastical work. The only Christian work is good work well done. Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work, whether it is Church embroidery or sewage-farming.

The Reproach of Christ

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”

— Hebrews 11:24-26

Choosing to serve the people of God may mean sacrificing some dream of personal greatness, some personal ambition to climb the heights of success or to excel in one’s profession. But Moses turned his back on what many of us hold dear in order to serve the people of God. Serving the people of God, even if it meant being mistreated with them, was more important to him than a life of comfort, wealth, privilege, fame and success. The choice before us, then, in the words of Betsy Childs, is this:

We can exhaust ourselves by seeking significance in what we do and how we are known, hoping that we will be remembered after we are gone. Or, we can lay our lives on God’s altar, squandering them in the world’s eyes, but entrusting our legacy to our maker.

Servants

When we take up the role of servants, we do precisely what the powerful prefer not to do: put ourselves in a position where our power is of little use. Rather than asserting the privilege the powerful have to control their environment and avoid humbling experiences, we seek Christ in the places where we will not be noticed, will not seem useful and will not receive praise. Servants are anonymous and often all but invisible, and the more powerful we become, the more we should seek out opportunities for anonymity and invisibility.

— Andy Crouch, Culture Making, p. 228