In the simplest terms, “vocation” means a “call.” So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life. Everyone is called by God to a holy life in Jesus Christ. The difference is how each one does this.
Individual vocations vary between being single, married, monastic, deacon, priest or bishop. However, we specifically use the word vocation to mean a call to a life in Holy Orders.
You have been created for a specific purpose, a particular mission – this is your one overriding purpose, to fulfill the will of God. God gives each one of us a particular mission in life. As we grow and life progresses, he makes it known to us, usually in indirect ways, more as an invitation than an imposition. Eventually, we realize that we are most happy when pursuing it, and even the hardest work and the longest hours doing it are greatly satisfying.
Discovering and ultimately following your vocation gives the greatest glory and praise to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is what we were meant to do.
How can I tell if I have a Vocation?
If you have a vocation there are a few signs that may indicate you’re on the right path in discerning a vocation.
First is that you feel “at home” there. Since your vocation is what the Lord created you for, so obviously when you’re where He wants you to be, you’ll have the feeling that you are where you are supposed to be. It’s a fit, in other words.
Second, you should probably feel a little overwhelmed at the idea. Excited and terrified at the same time? Yes, it is kind of like that.
Third, when you’re there, or even on the way, you’ll realize that there is no way you are going to be able to do this by yourself. It is about that time that you will have to make some sacrifices. Choices have to be made about how you live your life – because your life is not your own. Your life is not about you. It’s about Him.
Finally, a vocation is not something you slip into comfortably and effortlessly. It is gut-wrenching work. It pushes you beyond your current abilities. It stretches out the best parts of you and makes them both stronger and more flexible. It’s a challenge, and it will take a man, not a boy, to complete it.
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with your parish priest, confessor or spiritual father and discuss it. Personal guidance of an experienced clergyman is invaluable, and will clarify much along the way. What are you waiting for? Call him now! (Don’t have a relationship with a priest or live too far from a parish to develop a close relationship? Contact us. We’ll get you started).
How do I explore a Vocation?
What depends on you is not the call, but the answer.
Since this site is primarily about vocations to Holy Orders, there are some considerations to reflect upon.
- Will you pursue a monastic life, or a married life? (this is a decision)
- Are you attracted to service as a Deacon?
- Are you willing to embrace the sacrificial calling of the Priesthood?
- If already married, does your wife embrace both Orthodoxy and your calling to the ordained life? In general, the priesthood puts pressure on families. Not all marriages and families (to included widowed priests with children) will thrive under that pressure. It is vital that the needs of your wife and children be taken into account as you discern your calling.
- Are you aspiring to the Apostolic work of a Bishop?
- Are you seeking the front-line work as a Parish Priest, or as a Chaplain? Are you more interested in the hard work and life behind monastery walls?
- Is Tent-Making Missionary work in your future? As a ‘tent-maker’ your work becomes your mission and you can take your mission anywhere in the world, and build up the Body of Christ as an active missionary of Christ wherever you are.
- What kind of educational commitment are you willing to make? In the 21st century, advanced education is almost essential for clergymen to engage a wide variety of people from various circumstances, backgrounds, educational levels, and more. The higher one rises in Holy Orders, the more education is generally expected of you. Remember, many of our deacons are physicians, lawyers, engineers, computer scientists, and professionals of every stripe! How much more is required of priests? How much more of our bishops?
- What jurisdictional constraints, if any, will I encounter? That is, in my jurisdiction, am I required to attend a particular seminary or training program? Will the people you serve be primarily from a small ethnic slice of America (or Canada, or Mexico, or wherever) or will your work be mission-minded and focused? You do not need to explore every single seminary or monastery. Again, pray to, and trust in, the Holy Spirit and discern your path by speaking to your spiritual father as soon as possible.
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