A vocation (Latin for a calling) is a job that suits a person best. It is also the desire to do a particular job, especially a religious career like being a priest. For religious people, a vocation is often something they feel God has asked them to do. A vocation is followed more for spiritual or emotional reasons than for money, which is a helpful extra benefit from a vocation but not the reason for it.
[change] In Christianity
Vocations meet a psychological or spiritual need for the worker, and the word can also be used for a job at which a person is gifted. The word "vocation" comes from the Latin vocare, meaning "to call"; . In the past the word meant people's being called to follow Christianity. Martin Luther was the first to use it in the modern way, to describe a life-task.
Christians believe God has created each person with gifts and talents designed for a reason. Christians can be called to vocations that are faithful to Christian teachings, such as marriage, or to be a priest, monk or nun, chastity as a single person or the general calling to live a life that is right, for the good of the Church or humanity.
For those who are not priests or full-time religious people, Protestantism was important in telling them they still had a vocation. Calvinism told people to work hard in life. Calvin said a Christian had two callings; a general calling to serve God and a calling to do a particular job at which they are useful. Protestant ministers in the past said working hard gives God glory. Without something to do, they said people were more likely to sin.
[change] Vocation outside of Christianity
This belief also has an impact outside of religion. Modern occupations seen as vocations are those that involve caring or teaching, such as medicine, nursing, teaching, or veterinary work. Politics, may also be seen as a vocation. Campaigning for human rights, such as with the groups Amnesty International and Greenpeace, can also be seen as a vocation, although the word usually refers to a full-time job. People following other religions can also feel called to do a certain job by their gods.
- Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House Company, 1985), s.v. “vocatio.”
- Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons, Ch.3, p. 79 & note 1.