This blog post is written by: Karina Winkleman, KC Fellow 2016-17
Recently I’ve been thinking about how vocations are like clothing – a shirt, pants, shoes, a hat. Vocations are something you wear.
Just like clothing, vocations are essentially required for existing in society. Your vocation determines your job, which provides money, which pays for your food and shelter. But, beyond that, your vocation is also an expression of your individual personality and talents. A good vocation fits like that favorite outfit you feel the most like yourself in.
I’ve been wearing the for-profit marketing vocation for just over two years. It fit pretty nicely – until recently. In the past few months it’s been pulling and tugging in uncomfortable ways. Not the kind of uncomfortable that’s good and growing for me. The kind of uncomfortable that says, “Please change, something else fits better.”
There are plenty of reasons why I’m ready to make a change. For-profit marketing is a little too focused on the numbers. It’s a little too digital and much too tactical. It fits some like a glove. But not me.
It’s been over two years since I intentionally thought about what direction I should go with my vocation. I started to wonder what else is out there, so I went for a walk – a long walk – around the vocation store.
The vocation store is an odd place because nobody explains how it works. Can I try something on before I buy it? Or do I have to commit? Do I just grab something off the rack, buy it and wear it? It looked like that’s what most people do. From the outside looking in it seemed like everyone just knew what vocation would fit. I wasn’t so sure.
There were quite a few vocations that looked attractive. I knew vocational ministry was hanging up over there, but I let other people put it on. I figured I’d look better in something else. Maybe marketing in an agency? Or human resources? What about something in the nonprofit world? I applied for a few jobs, had some networking meetings, scrolled through Indeed job postings. Nothing was a fit.
My eyes kept darting back to ministry. I even put it in the cart once or twice, then hung it back up before anyone could see that I grabbed it. Choosing ministry felt like giving up, like I was failing this “faith and work” thing. I thought the corporate world was much worthier of my effort. Wouldn’t it be a bummer for the for-profit marketplace to lose my influence? I could be one of those Christians who was faithful and successful in my “secular” environment – a Fellows program poster child.
Weeks went on and eventually I said it. I said, “What about ministry? Maybe ministry would work for me.” I was quiet and sheepish but still loud enough for others to hear. Nobody freaked out. Nobody told me it’d be terrible. That gave me courage to pursue vocational ministry further. I started holding it up and asking others if it’d fit. A lot of people thought it would.
After a while, I shook my initial hesitation. Pursuing vocational ministry is not giving up. It’s not failing the “faith and work” movement. In fact, I think my pursuit of ministry is the fruit of it.
Without the Fellows program, without an expanded imagination of how God views work, I might have walked into the vocation store with a limited perspective. Instead I was able to see all the options. Every vocation hanging up in there is pleasing to the Lord. That’s part of what made choosing one that’d fit so challenging. But, because I had picked up mentors, frameworks, and some self-awareness during the Fellows program, I didn’t have to walk through the vocation store totally lost and alone.
I’m still wearing the marketing vocation now, but I’m getting closer and closer to clothing myself in vocational ministry every day. My heart is growing more and more for ministry. I don’t know the “what” and “where” of that desire yet. I don’t know if I’m going to seminary soon or in a few years or never. I don’t know if I’m going to work in a church or on a college campus or somewhere else entirely.
There are so many more “I don’t know’s” than I’d prefer. But it seems like that’s how it goes with vocations. There isn’t one vocation that fits perfectly, as much as we’d like to believe otherwise. We keep growing and the world around us keeps changing. That means we get to keep going back to the vocation store – whether it be for a complete outfit overhaul or just to meet the tailor for a quick adjustment. I guess I’ll get used to being here. Maybe they have a rewards program.