Find your vocation
A new MAC Diploma unit, ‘Finding Your Vocation’, will tackle some of life’s biggest questions, including: What is God’s purpose for my life? We ask MAC lecturer Kara Martin about the unit and to share how vocation ties into everyday work, based on ideas in her new book, Workship.
How do you define ‘vocation’ in a biblical sense?
Vocation is a Latin word meaning ‘calling’. In the Bible there is a general calling from God to belong to his people, to be holy and to accept salvation. There is occasionally a special calling to people for specific tasks and activities. I think we can fit our lives into the calling from God to do his work in the world. However, his work could be as simple as keeping the house in order, as influential as being on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, or as faithful as answering a friend’s questions about Jesus.
The unit explores the idea of ‘shalom’. What does this mean?
‘Shalom’ is a Hebrew word that is usually translated as ‘peace’, but which actually means everything made whole or put right. I think our sense of calling from God makes more sense when we see all the activities/work of our lives in the context of God’s desire to bring ‘shalom’ to the world. We are part of God’s reconciliation plan in Jesus.
What will students gain from studying this unit?
Students will be personally challenged to examine their lives from the perspective of God’s activity in the world. They will be prompted to ask: How does what I spend my time doing fit in with what God is doing? How does my everyday work fit in with God’s creative, sustaining, healing, redeeming, caring and justice work?
You’ve recently published a book titled Workship. How do you think work fits into our ‘vocation’?
Work and vocation should be linked. In fact, our everyday work (paid or unpaid) makes much more sense when it is invested with a sense of vocation or calling. We can also be much more effective in our work when we use it as part of the way we worship God.
How do you think our ‘working lives’ and ‘spiritual lives’ are connected?
I think dualistic ideas of sacred versus secular owe much more to Plato and Gnosticism than to the more holistic view of the Bible. I agree with Martin Luther that all our work is made sacred by offering it to God in worship. Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Can you give a couple of suggestions about what ‘workship’ might look like in practice?
It can be as simple as beautifying your workplace; befriending a difficult co-worker; washing dishes with a grateful heart to serve God and others; advocating on behalf of a vulnerable customer; inviting your church choir to perform carols at the office Christmas party; asking God to communicate himself through your teaching; writing beautiful words that inspire … It is endless really! Occasionally, God will use you to bring about influence or change that is much grander than you could imagine. Sometimes your excellent work will create an opportunity to mention the One who inspired it.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what Volume 2 of Workship will cover?
It covers some practical wisdom for the workplace on facing ethical challenges, offering hospitality, how to deal with a toxic work culture, Jesus-shaped leadership, dealing with stress, and so on. It also has a section on how churches can better equip Christians in their workplace – through sermon applications, visiting workplaces, training courses, mentoring and many other ideas.
To find out more or to purchase a copy of Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, go to workship.com.au. There are also copies of the book available for loan in the MAC library.
Finding Your Vocation will run in Semester 2 as an intensive Diploma unit at the MAC city campus. For more information or to enrol, visit mac.edu.au/courses/enrol/diploma.