Calling All Women!

Harrison Butker’s commencement speech: love it, or hate it? Watched the whole thing to find out for myself. Two things stood out: Brother Harrison is a devout Roman Catholic, and: he believes in vocation.

Critics immediately zeroed in on Butker’s praising – as vocation – his wife Isabelle’s role as wife, mother, and homemaker. In an emotional tribute, he honored her, saying his vocation as husband, father, athlete, and entrepreneur would be impossible without her love and support.  If the husbands of the world praised their wives like this, especially in public, the world would be a much better place, and there would be fewer divorces and murders.  He also suggested that the women graduates were most excited – not about their futures in the workforce – but as wives and mothers. But what about single women?  Are we women defined only by our marital and parental status?  What, after all, is vocation?

Vocation is calling. That’s what it means.  My workshops always touch on the three lacks: lack of love, lack of belonging, lack of purpose. Vocation is what fills that third lack, the lack of purpose. Knowing you are called to do what you do, that you were designed for your work, and that you are in the very center of God’s will, that is vocation.  In today’s culture we oversimplify vocation: it’s just a job or career. Better definition of calling: Vocation is any work or service we perform that contributes to God’s world as a witness to His grace.  Not just a job we do, it’s so much more.

Way back in the deeps of time, in his address to my freshman class, President William E. Tucker of Bethany College, West Virginia, stated his vocational priorities: first he was the servant of God, second he was husband to his wife, third he was father to his children, and fourth he was college president. It stuck with me. Faith, marriage, parenting, job. In that order.   At the time I was a single student, but he taught me that faith, family, and getting my education were my vocational priorities.  In that order. That guidance has never steered me wrong.  Circumstances and seasons of life change, but keeping vocational priorities straight always anchors us in our God-given calling.   

President Tucker wasn’t wrong.  Vocation includes our faith and family, as well as our job. We are called to all of it.  Faith, singleness, marriage, parenting, career are all callings on our lives for a lifetime, or for a season.  Loving God, loving our spouses, and loving and raising our kids in the Lord are investments with huge eternal payoffs.  And our jobs?  That last priority?  Each of us is born with talents and abilities.  Good education develops them and adds skill sets.  I trained to be a teacher and later, a pastor, and have used those skills to teach math and French, to write books and articles, to preach and to speak to thousands of people.  Amazes me even now.  The only explanation is the spiritual gifting of the Holy Spirit, Who takes my natural abilities and education, energizing them to do my best work for God, family, and the world.  Always. 

Seasons of my life have included supporting my husband Greg in his career as an agriculturalist and in his seminary education.  I’ve been that stay-at-home mom, raising our five kids.  Never in my life have I ever regretted having a thorough education that empowered me to love God better and seek more understanding of Him, to be an equal partner with my husband intellectually and practically, and a creative and wise mother.  My husband Greg knew I would not only keep the home fires burning, but if anything ever happened to him, I would be able to take care of our kids.  Greg is a great father, and I knew that if anything ever happened to me, he would be able to do the same.

Turn and turn about.  My wonderful, amazing husband supported me 100% when I went to seminary.  Greg took on household chores, and always had fresh flowers on the table for me to enjoy when I came home late on a Saturday night.  He knew I was exhausted from class.  He knew I had to preach two sermons the next day.  He believed in my vocation as minister, supported me, and here we are today. REV2.  And yes, he praises me often, and praises me in public, as I do him. 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  God has a blueprint for all the works we will do in our lifetimes, in all our different roles, in every season of life.  No work God gives us is “less than” or insignificant; wiping away a toddler’s tears is as great as building a bridge across an interstate, or volunteering at church or the local food pantry.  Vocation also brings a blessing to us, as we trust God and courageously step into new relationships, new roles, new jobs.

Think about where you are today.  You may be a server in a restaurant, or a high-powered CEO.  You may be single, married, or a parent.  Whatever your circumstances, opportunity surrounds you.  You have talents and abilities.  You have education and skills.  And as a believer, you also have the irrevocable gifts and call of the Holy Spirit, a vocation created just for you.  Step into your work today with the confidence that it was designed by the God of the universe, and every work, every service that you perform contributes to God’s world, and is a witness to His grace.  And remember, I’m praying for you, we’re all in this together!

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