Vocation: At the Crossroads of Desire, Skill, and a Suffering World


I’ve been reflecting on the idea of vocation: the importance of doing something in your everyday that is life-giving to both you and your community.

James Martin, in the book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, suggests that “Vocation overarches our work, jobs, and career and extends to the kind of person we hope to become. It is what we are called to do, and who we are called to be.”

Vocation is sustainable, even during the hard times, because you know you were made to do it. Something deep down in you has contentment and joy because you are able to apply your skills, gift-mix, and passion towards the same goal. Vocation and calling are not just for “religious” people or work. Each of us, as we reflect on who we are, have desires and interests planted inside us.

What is your vocation? What do you desire? What do you feel you were made for?

For me, I see my vocation as a teacher. It is a role where I can use my creative, organizational, and social skills, combined with my passion for empowering and affirming young people.

Your vocation could be in business, as a scientist, in politics, as a parent, as a spiritual leader. You may be in a career where you feel you are living out your vocation or in a job where you don’t feel fulfilled. If the latter is true for you, how can you pursue your vocation in your spare time? Whether it’s full-time or part-time, living out your desires is an opportunity to bring hope to the lives of others.

In the final chapter of Subversive Jesus, Craig Greenfield reflects on vocation. He points out that not everyone is called to the slums, however we are all called to be connected to the marginalized. He writes, “If you are seeking the work God has made you to do, search for the deepest inclination of your heart and follow it to where it meets the suffering of the world.”

This might look like helping start a micro-business, connecting with local single mums, researching how to get vaccines and medication to the rural poor, befriending those with special needs, or campaigning and advocating for justice in areas like sex-trafficking.

“You must resist the temptation to do nothing because you can do only a little or because you can’t be like someone else who seems more radical,” Greenfield encourages. “It takes many tiny candles to overcome the darkness.”

Your vocation may naturally connect with the issues in the world or you may have to think outside the box, but together we can work toward hope and positive transformation in our world.

May you discover and embrace your heart’s desire. May you find a deep sense of joy and fulfillment through living out who your are. May you see opportunities to bring light in the darkness through your vocation.


Paul Horrocks and his wife Debbie live in Glasgow, Scotland. They served with InnerCHANGE in South Africa from 2013-2016 and are now living and serving in the east end of Glasgow. This post was originally shared on their personal blog.