What is the difference between a vocation and a job or career?

This week Father Joshua Swallows, vocations director for the Diocese of Orlando, director of UCF Catholic Campus Ministry, and Parochial Administrator of Most Precious Blood in Oviedo, responds to…

What is the difference between a vocation and a job or career?

We can gain immediate insight into this question by simply looking at the origins of the term “vocation”.  Vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which is “to call”.  It is a calling and therefore is born out of a relationship with God. Saint Pope John Paul II highlights this distinction in his work, On the Meaning of Vocation: “In the hidden recesses of the human heart, the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: ‘Come, follow me.’ This call, this mysterious inner voice of Christ, is heard most clearly in silence and prayer. Its acceptance is an act of faith.”

A career or job may certainly be part of one’s vocation, but can only be authentically described this way if it has become part of surrendering one’s life to the Lord. In reading the writings from the saints, we see that vocation encompasses the whole answer to the question of why am I alive? That answer is found when we surrender in prayer as Christ taught us, saying to the Father, “Thy Will be done,” and mean it!

In short, a vocation is a mission from God. Each and every one of us has one, but we must be humble and listen in prayer. Another way of describing the difference between a vocation and a career is to say that a vocation is not simply chosen, (like we do with a career or job), but also something received. As we discern the Will of God for our lives, may we be truly open to God speaking a response to our heart.

May 26, 2022