For my research, I have been doing some broad reading on the theology of work and vocation. Most recently, I have read Gary Badcock’s book, The Way of Life: A Theology of Christian Vocation, in which he argues against the notion that each Christian is uniquely called to a specific career. Badcock suggests instead that the vocation each Christian has is more general – a call to love, faith, and obedience to the will of God – and that each of us will work out what that looks like in our individual lives.
Christians first and foremost need to understand that their calling and vocation is to be holy in whatever circumstances they find ourselves in, Badcock says. Commenting on 1 Peter 2.4-5, he continues,
Here there is more than enough to sustain a Christian theology of vocation, for the task is to be holy where we are, amid the responsibilities of ordinary life, and within the community or communities in which we live. Or, as a rather different theological source puts it, ‘Life in the Holy Spirit fulfils the vocation of man’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1699). Everything else must be secondary to this or, better, a function of it. To be ‘for God’ in life – this constitutes the Christian doctrine of vocation. It must be so, for the Christian vocation is a response to God, and the human response is constituted as much by the specific character of each person as by the general call of God to faith and obedience. ‘What does God call me to do?’ is a question that nobody but I can answer. But the specific nature of each response, and the ensuing variety of Christian vocations, must not be allowed to cloud the fact that the fundamental structure of the Christian calling is the same in each case: the call is to the love of God, and because God is love, to the love of one’s neighbour. What remains is to find the way of doing this that corresponds best to what lies in the self, to one’s special gifts and qualities, within the specific circumstances of one’s life. More than this cannot be done, and nothing more than this can be required of us (123).
On the whole, I don’t think Badcock says enough about the significance of our work, but I do think he makes a valuable point here. Many Christians experience a great deal of stress over the question of whether or not they are doing the will of God, but often that concern is focused on the idea that God has a blueprint for their lives which they must follow to the letter, and that they are doing something wrong if they haven't figured exactly what that looks like. In response to this, Badcock is right – the answer to the question, ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ begins with the pursuit of godliness. And when we set ourselves to be ‘for God’ in this life, he will put us where he needs us to be in order to use us for his plans and purposes.