Choosing a Vocation

It is several months ago that we wrote on the above topic.  Due to lack of space, we were not able to finish the subject before.  In this issue of our Beacon Lights, we expect to continue where we left off the last time.  To get the proper connection, permit me to recall to you that thus far we covered the following ground: (1) We pointed out the importance of the subject; we must all choose a vocation. (2) Because there are so many vocations, the choice is often difficult.  (3) Just because we are Protestant Reformed people, we realize that we are limited in our choice and that for a good many reasons.  (4) We also called attention to the dangers of choosing a vocation which calls for higher education in worldly, ungodly institutions—in connection with this we wrote toward the end of the last article on this subject: “I can readily conceive of choosing a legitimate vocation while the price we have to pay (of course I am speaking in spiritual terms) is too high, so that it is not worth the cost”.  It is from this point that we continue now.

Besides the limitations we have mentioned already, I am reminded of another limitation and that in connection with the Church.  We have touched upon this matter already.  We are Protestant Reformed young people and the Protestant Reformed truth should be dear into us.  But where can it be found?  Only within our own circles.  And that certainly makes the field very narrow.  Not so long ago, I heard of a young man who was offered a very attractive position in the business world; a position with prospect for advancement.  He did not take the position.  Why not?  Because the work would take him away from our churches, even from the Reformed Churches in general, and, hence, the price was too high.  It is well, it is extremely important to figure with your church.  If you seek a certain vocation are you certain that you can stay within the sphere of the church?  The church means very much, should mean very much to us.  Don’t think lightly of this.  There may be cases wherein it is hard for a third party to tell us as to what should be done and what is the proper course to take.  Life is so rich, circumstances may differ so much.  It might be that one party would make a certain choice of which someone else would say: “That would be against my conscience”, and yet his grounds for condemning the first party may be very weak and feeble.  However, if a person is spiritually minded, also a young person, he will always proceed cautiously and prayerfully.  And when you are in doubt, it is always well to do the thing which is clear and concerning which you need not be in doubt.  Not so long ago, I talked to a man whose son had become great in the world of science according to the standards of the world.  However, he had drifted away from the faith of the fathers and the church in which he had been born and reared.  At the very height of his career, the Lord took him away.  And what did his father say?  He shook his head and he said with tear-stained eyes: “I hope for the best, but God is just and what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?”  The church, your church, is very important to you.  It is the purest church of which you can be a member.  And how about your children?  Lot, too, undoubtedly made much money in Sodom, but all the while he vexed his righteous soul and his children became contaminated with the sins of Sodom.  You are Protestant Reformed young people; do you want to stay Protestant Reformed?  Then there is only one way and one possibility: you must be and remain an active member of one of the Protestant Reformed churches.  Take this into consideration as you choose your vocation.

Finally, in this connection, whatever vocation you may choose, the preeminent, basic, all important command for you and me is that we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  First, not last.  First, that also means in and through all things, also in and through my vocation.  And if you cannot seek the kingdom of God first, it should be clear to you in what direction you must go.  Indeed, we are in the world, we must do something in this world, we should choose a vocation, but in all this we must approach these matters from a spiritual point of view and let ourselves be guided by the ever abiding principles of the Word of God.

Naturally, we are still not finished with our subject.  There are even today a good many legitimate occupations in which it is possible for us to serve.  Perhaps you say: “There are so many things to choose from that I don’t know what I would like for a life’s vocation.”  I believe we can narrow the field down still further and that might make it a little easier for you.

In the first place it is most likely that your financial means are limited.  Not every youth can have as much schooling and time for preparation as he perhaps would like to have and as might be necessary to reach his goal.  Although, let me add immediately, that this is not the greatest handicap, for fact is, that usually where there is a will, there is a way.  Some youths have overcome a tremendous lot of hardships and financial difficulties, but they had the stamina, the gifts and talents and stuck to their ideals till finally the goal was reached.  However, most of us are not of that sterling type which perseveres till the goal is reached.  Hence, it often happens that one is limited to a certain extent by financial means so that he cannot receive the training or education which he would like.  However, don’t let this worry you too much.  Most of us are but average people, or below average and anyone with personality and perseverance can make the best of such situations and after all find a very suitable occupation.

The thing which is more direct importance is that one must choose a vocation which he is reasonably sure that he likes.  If a person likes his work, he enjoys contentment, he enjoys his labor.  There is a lot of difference between enjoying one’s work and doing something drudgingly.  Your job is more than the check, the latter comes perhaps one a week; your job is there every day.  Enjoy your work; that will bring happiness and contentment in your life.  For that reason, it is also extremely important to choose a vocation.  If you have no particular vocation, if you must drift aimlessly from one job to another, you will lack the joy of laboring.  And, as a rule, your wages will be in the lowest bracket and you’ll be the first one to be laid off.  It’s well to be a Jack-of-all-trades, but it is very important in our day to be an expert in at least one particular field of endeavor, whatever that may be, provided, of course, it’s a legitimate occupation.  Misfits won’t get anywhere in the world, they don’t get enjoyment out of their work and they are always on the lowest rung of the social ladder.  It’s better to be an expert sewer digger than a poor bookkeeper.  For, in close connection with the foregoing, in most every occupation there is possibility of advancement, of bettering one’s position, at least to a certain degree.  A misfit never betters his position, but he may early land in the poorhouse.

That brings me to another element which is very important.  We all have diversity of gifts, talents and aptitudes.  To be at your best means that you do something which you are able to do, something that does not only fit your taste, but for which you are also physically, psychologically, mentally, spiritually equipped.  To choose a vocation in the proper field in harmony with your gifts, talents, etc., some self-analysis is necessary.  In our day many young people take an aptitude test to help them determine this.  Perhaps that is not a bad idea; after all, it can at least be a means to help you determine your choice.  To mention an example: It is very well possible that you would like to be a teacher.  However, do you have the basic qualifications for this vocation?  It is indeed possible that you’d be a misfit as a teacher, but an expert mechanic in some industrial field.  Should you be a teacher now or a mechanic?  Of course, by all means, you should be a mechanic.  God had given you special talents in that line of work, you will enjoy the work, there will be a possibility of promotion for you and, normally speaking, you will be able to earn a good living for you and yours.  Bad mistakes have frequently been made in this respect and usually the consequences were still more sad.  Parents have almost forced a job, a vocation, an office upon their children which the children did not like and for which they were entirely unequipped.  Precious time is wasted that way, loss of money and above all much grief and sadness is caused.  Parents should be very careful in this respect.  They should advise, guide, but never force a vocation upon their children which they don’t like and for which they are totally unfit.  That reminds me of the story of the mother who said that her son was laid in the cradle to be a doctor.  But the boy grew up and became a peddler of patent medicines.  They asked his father why it was that the boy never became a doctor.  Answered his father good- naturedly: “When Mother took him out of the cradle she took him out on the wrong side”.

But many young people themselves also often make mistakes here which they later regret.  You must know yourself, your qualification, your talents, your limitations.  Yes, by all means, you must know your limitations.  You cannot do everything and most likely you are not a genius.

Choose a vocation that lies within the scope of your knowledge, ability, capacity, talent, aptitude.  That is very important.  It will save you a lot of embarrassment, trouble, grief and it will be a good start leading you in the right direction.  And that reminds me of another story which you may have heard before.  There was an enthusiastic young man, rather the dreamy kind, who, walking on a dark and lonely road one night, thought that he saw the letters P. C. in the sky.  The dreamer started interpreting.  Well, the only solution he could find was that the letters stood for two words.  P. C. meant Preach Christ.  He became enthusiastic about the idea, went to work, studied, but made a miserable failure of everything.  A number of years later, an old friend looked him up on the farm where our somewhat mystical dreamer had settled down.  He had a nice family and made a good living.  After showing his old friend the place and telling him with fervor about the farm and all that is connected with it, the friend could not refrain from asking, “How about that P. C. vision?”  Said the farmer: “I am not sure today whether I actually saw those letters, but if I really saw them I am certain today that I misinterpreted them.  God has made plain to me those letters definitely did not mean “Preach Christ”, but rather “plant corn” and how thankful I am to do the work for which the Lord Himself equipped me.”

My young friends, choose a vocation for which the Lord has granted you gifts, talents and aptitude.