Wednesday, June 3, 2015

On the Difference Between Vocation and Career

Are you pursuing a career or do you have a vocation?

For some, the word vocation is an old-fashioned term, out-of-date with our current technical and financial focus. Or vocation makes one think of a vocational school primarily focused on providing training for jobs such as an electrician or plumber.

So, what do we mean by vocation? Let's consider 4 differences between a career and a vocation.

1. Choice. The most basic way to think of the difference between career and vocation is the matter of choice. People pursue a career. People are called to a vocation and often feel that they had no real choice. They were called to their vocation.

2. Self versus community. Pursuing a career is usually based on some inner motivation to utilize
ones skills, interests, and abilities, often in order to provide enough money for daily living. One is focused on making a living, paying the bills, and moving up the career ladder. An individual called to a vocation may be called due to specific circumstances, i.e., a natural catastrophe or a social injustice, and work to make life and conditions better for others. They are focused on a community rather than their own career development.

3. Financial. A career is often (though certainly not always) focused on financial benefits. Will this career enable me to support myself (and my family)? Can I move up and earn more? Will I be able to afford the kind of lifestyle I'm interested in? An individual called to a vocation does not think primarily in those terms. He or she might not make as much money as they'd like. Life might not be as full of the personal possessions or things but can be full in more intangible ways, such as friendships, joy, and a deep sense of fulfilling ones purpose.

4. Satisfaction and happiness. Though many people in careers postpone job satisfaction or happiness to stick with a job in order to achieve financial gain, for others a job or career can be changed if it does not bring satisfaction. A person called to a vocation has no such option. They understand that sometimes the work will be very difficult and even lonely. Yet following the call to a vocation is also deeply satisfying as one understands the work serves an important need for the community.

Perhaps it's time to consider whether you're being called to a vocation instead of a career.

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