Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is the ministry a vocation?

Most of us think of a "vocation" meaning a job, or at least a field of interest. An age-old complaint from church members is that their pastor treats the ministry as a job, not a calling. But the word "vocation" comes from the Latin verb "vocare", meaning "to call out".

How ironic! Not only that, but we tend to view "vocational schools" as ones not leading to a profession. A job hopefully, but not a profession. Professionals go to college, right?

We'd do well to remember the Latin root and realize that the "vocation" or "job" of the ministry is indeed a calling. On the other hand, we do expect ministers to do their best to see beyond the daily grind and to give their vocation a more spiritual emphasis than we congregatiuon members do. It's not fair, perhaps, but we do seem to expect that. You might say that we expect members of the clergy to make us think that their vocation is not a job. What?

Vocation -- job -- calling -- profession.  It's all quite confusing once we stir the colloquial pot, mix up their use, and ignore their root meaning.

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