As usual, Albert Mohler has the pulse of society, or at least reads those who do. His latest blog entry is entitled “The Loss of Vocation and its Recovery — The Listening Heart.” Here are some excerpts:
The concept of vocation — in the theological sense of a calling — has all but disappeared from contemporary society. The late Professor A. J. Conyers blames this loss on the rise of confidence in personal autonomy and an absolute demand for personal choice in all dimensions of life.
The idea of “vocation” – of being “called” is at first commonplace until one actually begins to think what an extraordinary thing is suggested by such language. It suggests of course, that life does not center on the choices of individuals, and that community does not emerge entirely by appealing to those choices the way modern societies ever since the industrial age assumed, being wholly distracted by the wealth-making power of the market and its appeal to the individual consumer. Vocation instead implies that a larger obligation presses itself upon persons and draws them into a community of mutual sacrifice and affection. Not centering in the individual, the obligations and the affections are understood as coming from a transcendent source. Yet while they are not centered in the individual, they are necessarily addressed to the individual, and therefore necessarily personal-and if personal they can only be described as coming from a divine source, from God. It is that extraordinary premise of community life that the modern age, like the builders of the tower at Babel, wished to defy, even if it could not altogether deny it.
The concept of vocation, if it means anything at all, means that we are called in the context of a community — indeed for a community. It is based in a knowledge of what the community needs and a knowledge of how persons within the community are gifted.