Vocation & Volunteering


Vocation –

  • We think of this as a job.
  • The word is from Latin and means to be called or summoned.
  • Definition: A strong feeling of suitability to a particular career or occupation; mission or purpose

Volunteer –

  • We think of this as unpaid work.
  • The word from the Latin means to want to or to wish to (think of “volition”)
  • Definition: A person who chooses to do something willingly; to offer to do something without being forced to.

This is a Venn diagram. One circle is “Be Called” and other is “Be Willing”.

  • Write some things you care called to do in one circle
  • Write some things you are willing to do.
  • Put in the intersection the things that overlap – you are called by and willing.



“Social Work” in the Book of Acts

I think of fire on Pentecost and Preaching when I think of the Book of Acts. But it has occurred to me just now …


That there is a lot of social work as well

  • Acts 3 – Healing a Lame Beggar (v. 6) and other miracles of healing scattered throughout the book.)
  • Acts 4 – Sharing Possessions (v. 35) associated with good reputation and growth.
  • Acts 6 – Sharing food with Widows (v. 1-4) as a normal activity of the church.
  • Acts 9 – Dorcas helping the poor (v. 32, 39) creating great loyalty.
  • Acts 10 – Cornelius’ kindness (v. 2, 38) showing his seeker status, and a description of Jesus’ ministry.
  • Acts 27 – 28 Shipwreck and Rescue (v. 28:2) by strangers.

Maybe you can think of others?

Episodic Proverbs and a Cup of Coffee


The one liner proverbs in life and from the Bible seem to lie dormant until a situation brings them to life.  I thought of this while studying some proverbs on how to listen and how to speak regarding the news.

This week there is a kerfuffle about Starbucks red cups.  someone somewhere declared that Starbucks made war on Christmas.  Now this is clicking all over social media.  In a week or a month this will pass.  No one will remember except that some religious folk are prone to goofiness.

Let me suggest this: read and think before you click, like, forward, paste and otherwise multiply this sort of thing.  Here is a proverb that applies:

The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him. 

Proverbs 18:17

The news reader should always check the source, and even listen to another point of view. If you only listen to the news you agree with, don’t you wonder if you are getting the truth?  Listen to who who don’t agree and you may get a better sense of the issue.

About 20 years ago, a man become famous in my city by suggesting that a building burning down was God’s judgment on a particular kind of behavior that was associated with that location.  This kind of overstatement occurs around social issues and political campaigns.  It was an overstatement; who can tell us the mind of God in a situation?

In  a political year some prosper by division – their guiding proverb is “divide and conquer.”  Others simply don’t care if their claims are true or helpful.  A biblical proverb that applies here is:

Scoffers set a city aflame,
    but the wise turn away wrath.

Proverbs 29:8

As a teenager my clan rejoiced in well placed insults.  That continued until I read this proverb which jumped out of the book and slapped my upside the head:

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Proverbs 10:11

Violence seems strong.  Words are not supposed to hurt, like sticks and stones.  Yet words can do violence to a community, to good will, to the chance of getting a hearing in the larger public, to friendships, to reputations and to friendships.  The righteous produce words that give life, like a fountain of fresh water.


They asked John what to do, and you’ll be surprised what he said…


{I apologize for the title, but I see that format so often on Facebook feeds, I couldn’t resist.}

In Luke 3, John the Baptist is preaching a hard message.  Listening to John must have been like climbing into the ring for a couple of rounds of sparring, when only John was punching.  His message was “Turn”.  That is what repent means. Turn away from injustice. Turn back from hypocrisy. Turn to God.

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

When three categories of people appear, it is interesting what the grizzled prophet tells them to do.

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we,what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

To regular folk, those who work to make a living, he said that if they have any extra, they should share.  In the news was a story of a neighborhood’s reaction to the placement of a small housing initiative.  One said, “anything we can do to help is great.” The other neighbor said, “what will this do to my property value?”  John here does not mention any qualification for the recipients of kindness but that they lack.  Here is no talk of “worthy poor.”  And the extra to be given seems awfully close to necessity – the second tunic is extra.  Reader, look  in your closet to see how many shirts are in there.

To Tax Collectors, John advised that they continue their work but with honesty.  Tax Collectors were contracted to bring in a certain amount for the state, and any extra they could keep. So normally they threatened trouble to get as much as possible.  John does not deny that this unpopular career is a legitimate career, but only if the collector kept to the amount they are supposed to raise. If you think things have changed in our feelings about taxes, check out how many politicians advocate an agenda of hiring more tax collectors.

To Soldiers, John gave similar advice. Soldiers served as both police and army.  They were paid poorly so the difference was made up with extortion.  John does not deny the need for a military or police force.  He at least is not a total pacifist. Be honest and live on your salary.

This is a very real world message. John did not say, “leave your secular job and become a missionary, and if you can’t do that be a pastor, and if you can’t do that start a Bible study.”  This is not to say that people are not called to those tasks.  In this passage, John has another message. He said pursue your vocation with honesty.  This includes at least two very nitty gritty vocations.

He did not say, “deny food and clothing and live in the desert.”  But he said, share what you earn with people in the community around you.

This is a prescription for everyday justice.  How we deal with our possessions and how we pursue our work is part of our calling (vocation.)  There are larger political and structural issues about Justice, but certainly those do not exclude personal lifestyle justice decisions we make every day.