by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge
If you’ve made it this far in this edition of Reflections, you’ve covered quite a bit of material on the subject of the vocation of the Church’s laity. I have been asked to add some final thoughts.
I decided to look up some synonyms for the word “vocation.” Predictably, my Webster’s Thesaurus included words such as “calling, mission, pursuit, employment, trade, occupation, and duty.”
What caught my eye in the thesaurus, however, were two brief definitions for vocation: “The work for which one has prepared,” and “The work at which one is engaged.” Sometimes both of these definitions accurately describe how one spends one’s day, and sometimes they might be different. There are many people who are “engaged” at particular jobs or work for which they did not necessarily “prepare” (such as someone with a degree and/or training in something, but actually working in a different field).
All disciples of Christ are called to be exercising their Christian vocation within whatever other vocation may be a part of their daily life. At our annual Clergy Conference in October, our presenter – The Rt. Rev. Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut – was leading us in reflecting on discipleship and apostleship. She mentioned something that I found very helpful in thinking about lay vocations. She encourages laity to think of themselves, daily and regularly, as a disciple of Jesus cleverly and creatively disguised as a “teacher, accountant, plumber, banker, parent, waiter” (fill in the blank). I very much liked this thought, and I hope that you will think about your Christian vocation and discipleship using this image.
Have some fun with this. When you wake up tomorrow and every day, think of yourself as doing the Lord’s work, and in doing it, being cleverly disguised as a (fill in the blank). There’s a little bit of Walter Mitty fantasy in each of us. However, unlike the hapless Walter Mitty’s grand imagination, may we find success in our “disguise for Christ.”
Being a disciple of Jesus and actively participating in the vocation of all Christians, we discover and know (in the words of the above synonyms) our true “calling, mission, and duty.”
And speaking of duty, I hope that you experience your daily vocation (i.e., your daily Christian duty) in the words of the Indian poet Rabindrinath Tagore:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and found that life was duty.
I acted and found that duty was joy.