Misunderstandings about God’s Will and One’s Vocation

There is often confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the concepts of God’s will and one’s vocation. While many people believe that they are the same thing, they are in fact two related concepts, but with key differences. Understanding the differences between them can be the key to finding peace, purpose, and fulfillment in life.

God’s will refers to the overall plan that God has for the world and for each individual person. It is the framework within which all human activity takes place, and it encompasses everything that happens, no matter if those happenings are perceived as good. or as bad. It is not always easy to understand God’s will and our role in it, but it is always good, just, and loving.

One’s vocation is, on the other hand, a particular way of life or work that fulfills God’s will. It is the particular path that God has chosen for each individual person to fulfill his or her unique role in the world. This call can come in many forms, including through prayer, spiritual discernment, Christian institutions, or the desires of one’s heart. Meditation, I have found, can be a key to becoming aware of one’s vocation, but not only that; it can also be key to understanding one’s unique and authentic character and how that is an essential part of one’s vocation. Our own particular authenticity can be elusive, and it needs to constantly be articulated and realized.

Our own slippery grasp of our own authentic characters can lead to misunderstandings about God’s will and vocation can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a sense of aimlessness in life. Some people believe that if they simply do what God wants, everything will fall into place and they will be happy. But this is not always the case. Life can be difficult, even for those who are aiming to do God’s will.

One common misunderstanding is the belief that God’s will is always clear and easy to understand. This can lead to disappointment when life doesn’t go as planned, and to feelings of frustration and discouragement when the will of God is not immediately apparent. In reality, God’s will can be difficult to discern, and it may take time, prayer, and patience to understand it fully.

Another misunderstanding is the belief that one’s vocation is a fixed and unchanging thing. Some people believe that once they have found their vocation, they will never have to search for it again. But this is not always the case. Vocations can change over time, as people grow and mature in their faith, or as they face new challenges and opportunities.

I like the task of reviewing my résumé from time to time. Since I am newly looking for work, I have been re-reading it again. I am especially intrigued about writing what is commonly called a professional summary. Being a middle-aged man, my professional summary has evolved over time. I see it as including a statement of vocation. Currently, mine reads: “Professional, cooperative, and both internationally- and domestically experienced educator, administrator, and writer who impacts people’s lives by helping them bridge social barriers through language and concept education, skill development, and professional teaching and learning opportunities.” On its face, there seems to be nothing referring to God’s will. However, there certainly is a lot about vocation. When I look at it again, I realize there is a wide array of possibilities for the kinds of jobs I can do that would fulfill the vocation of “helping people bridge social barriers.” In other words, a job is a way of fulfilling a vocation, and particular jobs – if we are reflectively learning through them, may generate an evolution in our vocation. A key to making this important point real is being aware of God working in you through a particular job.

Many people also misunderstand the role of Christian organizations in discerning God’s will and vocation. While a church congregation, a mission organization, Christian University (or school) can provide guidance and support in the discernment process, it is ultimately up to each individual to seek out and understand God’s will for his or her life. These institutions can provide support and encouragement, and often a particular job, but they cannot make decisions for individuals or dictate their vocations. Further, these institutions themselves, in their real-world situations, may not be able to house the fulfillment of vocation and God’s will, because they may not be structured to accommodate the individual’s alignment to God’s will, or worse, they may, in fact, be fulfilling a will other than God’s.

Another misunderstanding is the belief that God’s will is limited to certain paths or careers, as I intimated above. Some people believe that God’s will is only present in certain careers, such as ministry, teaching, or nursing. But in reality, God’s will can be found in any career, as long as it is pursued with a heart for God and directed through a desire to serve others.

Misunderstandings about God’s will and vocation can also lead to a sense of guilt and shame, especially when individuals feel that they have failed to live up to their calling. But it is important to remember that God’s love and mercy are always present, even in times of failure and disappointment. With God’s grace and guidance, individuals can always get back on track and fulfill their vocations, no matter how far they may have strayed.

This understanding of straying is vitally important. We know that, deep down, God wants us to walk in faith with Him, pursuing Him in each moment, and in the end being an instrument of His power and grace.

So how can individuals avoid these misunderstandings and find peace, purpose, and fulfillment in their lives?

The first step is to understand the differences between God’s will, one’s vocation, and one’s job. Recognizing that God’s will is not always immediately apparent and that vocations can change over time can help individuals not only avoid some frustration and disappointment but may also permit a more holistic understanding of our professional life paths and our vocation. In other words, it may help us reconcile with God and find more meaning in our lives.

3 thoughts on “God’s Will and Vocation

  1. Thank you for sharing this.
    Does our vocation in God’s Will change through our life?
    Or are we doing God’s Will in what we’re doing whilst we’re trying to find where God’s Will is for us as our life goes on and past halfway?
    Only God knows.


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