Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vocation, Vocation, Vocation

A big part of my job is vocational rehabilitation; I help people develop job skills and identify their particular strengths and interests. It's always annoyed me that the meaning of "vocation" has gotten watered down to mean "job" or "work skills." It's often even reserved for programs like mine that don't exactly measure up to "real" employment.
The meaning of "vocation" has its origins in religion. It refers to specific "impulses, inclinations, or callings" towards a given area of work ( Even if your work is not particularly spiritual in nature, the essence of vocation is finding out what it is you were designed to do.
For example, on my afternoon commute I found myself studying the bus driver. I've seen him before and know him to be a kind, friendly fellow. He gives a bit of extra attention to older folks who need time to get to their seats safely. He's actually told several teens to stop using filthy language because there are women and children on the bus.
Today, a woman and her two young sons got on the bus. Both shook the driver's hand in the handshake that all the cool kids are using these days. The older boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, started telling the driver how happy he was to have made the basketball team at school. The bus driver beamed with genuine excitement and pride as if this was his own son. I imagine that perhaps this boy and his brother might not have very many male role models in their lives. The significance of the bus driver's interest was quite evident.
When we approached my destination, the bus driver asked if I wanted to be dropped off a block before the actual bus stop. It was raining and I have a disability. In the past, he'd observed me walking after I got off the bus & wanted to get me closer to home even if it wasn't an official bus stop.
You don't have to be a pastor, teacher, or doctor to have a meaningful vocation that influences others. A lot of people might view driving a bus as a job, and a not so great one at that. This bus driver has made his work his vocation.
What were you designed to do?


Joyce said...

What a sweetie that bus driver is.

Nancy, thank you for this thought-provoking post. I'll let it bubble on the back burner. We have children of the "thinking about vocation" age. The thoughts you present could enrich our conversations.

Dianne Adams said...

Great thoughts. I will have my fifteen year old read this one.