UMHB is in the initial stages of what we are calling the Vocare Initiative, a title based on the Latin for “to call.” The focal point at this juncture is looking at how the main two connotations of the concept, a call to ministry and a call to a certain career (i.e. vocation), are two sides of the same coin. In light of this notion, in both instances, God is calling us to act. This means that we should be looking at our career choices as a type of ministry or a means of living out our faith. It means God calls us not only to act but to serve as well through the means of our vocations.
Although many often use vocation and profession interchangeably for job, the semantics of etymology is key here. Whereas vocation incorporates the concept of being called, profession also has key implications. It derives from the Latin, profateri: “to make an open declaration, to avow;” literally “to avow before” others. This means profession also has important secular and religious connotations. It literally means people not only declare that they have the skills and competencies to do a certain career but also to act upon said training as a means of avowing God’s calling; we should be seeing our careers as a way to profess our calling.
Running a race or following a call?
Christian higher education needs to establish this as a foundational mindset. Current cultural practice sees college as a means to a career, in its etymological sense: “a race course.” In other words, people learn to play the game. With this in mind, students merely seeing higher education as a means to getting to the end should not be surprising. Cultural conditioning has trained many of them to focus only the endgame as the important facet (salary, benefits, and retirement). In terms of win, place, or show, students get conditioned to think in terms of salary and compensation first, then the rewards of doing said job. I have spent a great deal of research and energy trying to convince parents and guardians that the Humanities are lucrative professions (see my previous blog entry) AND beneficial to students’ personal growth and living.
However, professing a calling goes far beyond the Humanities as God calls people to utilize their passions and drives in all manner of service. The certified public accountant who has the desire to use his or her talents to serve others is no different than the teacher or the doctor who do the same. Christian colleges and universities should be teaching students that God calls people to be administrative assistants and computer technicians in the same way that he does pastors and youth ministers. The key now is fostering the thought that a career does not have to be a course merely run but rather a way to publicly avow the gifts, talents, and desires which come from God’s blessings.
In short, I challenge all disciplines, majors, and programs at UMHB to restructure their modus operandi from discussing the benefits of the skills and competencies learned in their degree plans to professing a calling. Perhaps then mentors, advisors, and the campus community as a whole will direct students to follow their call rather than merely run the race.Do you feel called to pursuing a profession in the Humanities? The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor offers exciting degrees through the College of Humanities. We invite you to stop by for a visit, and see if UMHB is a fit for you.