What is Vocation?


Vocation comes from the Latin word “vocare” which means “to call.”  At Wartburg, we often refer to vocation as “calling,” using the two terms interchangeably in our day-to-day interactions.  The way in which we describe vocation at Wartburg is much like Frederick Buechner—American writer and theologian—states, “…the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  It is a call inside oneself—a strong inner impulse—to a particular course of action and usually aligns with one’s profession, purpose, and/or faith.

So what does this all mean?  It means there is something out there—a task, a position, a need—that will require one’s unique set of skills, interests, passions, values, and personality to fulfill it.  A vocation or calling is distinctive to the individual and consists of their own personal gifts, as well as the needs of the world.  At a very basic level, one can begin discerning their calling by reflecting on what they are passionate about and what their community/world needs (see figure 1).  When one considers these very basic elements and starts finding connections between the two, then they begin to discover that which they are called to do.

Though consideration of one’s passions, the needs of the world, and the connections between the two seems simple, it is actually very complex.  There are several other factors worth examining as well (see figure 2) and take a great deal of time and reflection.  In fact, for many, discovering and claiming one’s calling may take a lifetime.  However, we want to encourage Wartburg students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to keep leading, serving, and learning.  Knowledge and understanding come from these important practices and according to Martin Luther, there is one element above all else that truly helps individuals find their calling; education.  The German Priest and Professor of Theology, once described education as indispensable in equipping young men and women to ‘take their own place in the stream of human events.’”

Keep educating oneself.  Keep experiencing and reflecting, and eventually the call will come.  One will be able to witness their own unique gifts and their important contributions to the world.  Remember, everyone has a vocation or a calling and many often have multiple.

Figure 1 – Vocation 

Figure 2 – Purpose