Archived Sections, From the Editor

What are you really good at?

Christian vocation calls us to use the gifts God gave us

A book review in this month’s print edition (also available on this Web site) celebrates nine years of Bill Frame’s leadership as the president of Augsburg College in Minneapolis. With a focus on Lutheran colleges and universities (see two other stories on the Web site this month), this is the right month to highlight this book.
One of Frame’s recurring themes during his tenure at Augsburg was that of Christian vocation. He argues in his book that this is a “Lutheran idea.” To be fair, Christians before Luther talked about the importance of recognizing your calling from God. But Luther said something special. He said you can’t prioritize callings, making “churchly” vocations more valuable than “secular” ones (that idea was popular in Luther’s day and he wisely challenged it).
A school that does its work properly will help its students discover their gifts and then equip them to use them. In high schools, vocational counselors often zero in on this.
Some vocational guides have wisely advised that we can best discover our gifts by asking ourselves the question, “What are you really good at?” Another way to put it would be, “What would you most like to do with your time and energy, regardless of whether anybody would pay you for it (and assuming it’s something that could please God)?”
Vocation is about developing skills for earning a living. But it doesn’t stop there. For a baptized Christian, hard-wired into our vocation is the call to do what the Lutheran Book of Worship describes so well (page 201): “To live among God’s faithful people, to hear his Word and share in his supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
That’s a wagonload of calling. Can we do that? To borrow a familiar phrase, “Yes, by the help of God.” We will not all be called to do the work of baptized servanthood in identical ways. Not all of us can play a pipe organ or perform heart surgery. But all of us are really good at something.
Use your gifts to the glory of God.