Tag Archives: Vocation

“250,000 published words per year” by Scott Manetsch

“Calvin’s literary corpus is well known, with around one hundred discrete volumes published from the time he arrived in Geneva in 1536 until his death twenty-eight years later. During the 1550s, Calvin’s literary output ranged from 100,000 to a remarkable 250,000 published words per year.

Late nights spent writing at his desk by candlelight or long days spent dictating from bed inevitably took a toll on his health and spirits: ‘I get so tired from that endless writing that at times I have a loathing for it, and actually hate writing,’ Calvin complained to Bullinger in 1551.

But true religion needed to be defended in print as well as from the pulpit. ‘I would be a real coward if I saw God’s truth being attacked and remained quiet without a sound.'”

–Scott M. Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 225-226.

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“Put the advance of the gospel at the center of your aspirations” by D.A. Carson

“Put the advance of the gospel at the center of your aspirations. Our own comfort, our bruised feelings, our reputations, our misunderstood motives—all of these are insignificant in comparison with the advance and splendor of the gospel. As Christians, we are called upon to put the advance of the gospel at the very center of our aspirations.

What are your aspirations? To make money? To get married? To travel? To see your grandchildren grow up? To find a new job? To retire early? None of these is inadmissible; none is to be despised. The question is whether these aspirations become so devouring that the Christian’s central aspiration is squeezed to the periphery or choked out of existence entirely.

I recall a Christian some years ago who always gave the same response when he was asked the numbing vocational question ‘What do you do?’ Invariably he would reply, ‘I’m a Christian.’

‘Yes, but I didn’t ask your religion; I asked what you do.’

‘I’m a Christian.’

‘Do you mean that you are in vocational ministry?’

‘No, I’m not in vocational ministry. But I’m a Christian, full time.’

‘But what do you do vocationally?’

‘Oh, vocationally. Well, I’m a Christian full time, but I pack pork to pay expenses.’

At one level, of course, his standard response was slightly perverse. Moreover, in God’s universe all morally good and useful work is honorable and not to be dismissed as of marginal importance.

Whether it’s packing pork or writing computer programs or baking a pie or changing a diaper, we are to offer our work up to God. We are His, and all we say and do, including our work, must be offered up for His glory and His people’s good.

But having insisted on that point, there are some elements of what we do that are more directly tied to the gospel than are others. Some things we do, and only some things, have direct eternal significance. As the apostle preserves gospel priorities in his prayers, so he preserves them in his aspirations. We must do the same… We are not more than a generation away from denying the gospel.

It may be that God has called you to be a homemaker or an engineer or a chemist or a ditch digger. It may be that you will take some significant role in, say, the rising field of bioethics.

But although the gospel directly affects how you will discharge your duties in each case, none of these should displace the gospel that is central to every thoughtful Christian. You will put the gospel first in your aspirations.

Then you will be able to endure affliction and persecution and even misunderstanding and misrepresentation from other Christians. You will say with Paul, ‘I want you to know… that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel’ (1:12).”

–D.A. Carson, Basics For Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 25-28.

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“The gospel at work” by Charles Spurgeon

“Brother, are you serving God? Do you live to win souls? Is it your grand object to be the instrument in God’s hand of accomplishing His purposes of grace to the fallen sons of men?

Do you know that God has put you where you are, and called you to do the work to which your life is dedicated? Then go on in God’s name, for, as surely as He called you to His work, you may be sure that to you also He says, as indeed to all His servants, ‘I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.’

But I hear some of you say, ‘We are not engaged in work of such a kind that we could precisely call it work for God.’

Well, brethren, but are you engaged in a work which you endeavour to perform to God’s glory? Is your ordinary and common trade one which is lawful—one concerning which you have no doubt as to its honest propriety; and in carrying it on do you follow right principles only?

Do you endeavour to glorify God in the shop? Do you make the bells on the horses holiness to the Lord? It would not be possible for all of us to be preachers, for where would be the hearers?

Many a man would be very much out place if he were to leave his ordinary calling, and devote himself to what is so unscripturally called ‘the ministry.’

The fact is, the truest religious life is that in which a man follows the ordinary calling of life in the spirit of a Christian.

Now, are you so doing? If so, you are as much ministering before God in measuring out yards of calico, or weighing pounds of tea, as Joshua was in slaying Hivites, and Jebusites, and Hittites.

You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.

And you may take this promise for yourself, for the path of duty is the path where this promise is to be enjoyed. ‘I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Strengthening Medicine for God’s Servants” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 21; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 52–53. This sermon on Joshua 1:5 was preached in 1875.

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“Where you work” by John Piper

“You don’t waste your life by where you work, but how and why you work.”

–John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), 132.

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“A mole must dig to the glory of God” by C.S. Lewis

“The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord.’ This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies.

A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. We are members of one body, but differentiated members, each with his own vocation.”

–C. S. Lewis, “Learning in Wartime,” in The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: HarperCollins, 1949/2001), 55-6.

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“Truly golden and noble works” by Martin Luther

“We err in that we judge the work of God according to our own feelings, and regard not His will but our own desire. This is why we are unable to recognize His works, persist in making evil that which is good, and regarding as bitter that which is pleasant.

Nothing is so bad, not even death itself, but what it becomes sweet and tolerable if only I know and am certain that it is pleasing to God. Then there follows immediately that of which Solomon speaks, ‘He obtains favor from the Lord.’ (Proverbs 18:22).

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, ‘Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? O you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful, carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise.’

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.

It says, ‘O God, because I am certain that Thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with Thy perfect pleasure. I confess to Thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving Thy creature and Thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised! Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in Thy sight.’

A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works…

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other?

God, with all His angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all His creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil’s fools.”

–Martin Luther, “The Estate of Marriage,” in Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Ed. Timothy F. Lull. 2nd Ed. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005), 158-159.

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