Packer on Calling

What does God say about vocation?

The word vocation means “calling.” And right at the heart of vocation is, I believe in every case, the sense that God has called one to do what one is doing. The sense of being called comes out of thinking and praying about what one has been gifted and so fitted to do and which of the options for life activity is the best one. Never let the good be the enemy of the best. And then, as one thinks about these things and prays about these things comes the sense, “Yes, this is what God has called me to do.” And all honest work is worth doing for the glory of God, and we may find ourselves called to do any honest work that we’re fitted for.

How do we offer our everyday work to God?

The first thing I think is to make sure that the work we’re doing is honorable work that can be offered to God. Smugglers, so they used to say in the 18th century, and drug dealers, so I say in the 21st century, can’t really offer their work to God because it isn’t honest labor. But assuming your work is honest labor, think of the glory of God as you plan it and perform it. God made us for honest work. And we glorify him by doing honest work. And pray that God will enable us to do it well and that he will accept it and use it. Use it to make the world a better place than the world would be without it. Then we’ve done what we can.

How can Christians view their daily work as worship?

Worship is honoring God in every appropriate way. W hen one’s labor is labor that one feels called to, then one is fulfilling one’s vocation as one pursues it. I think it’s a matter of conscious, deliberate prayer. “Lord, I offer you this. Make what you can of it. I’m doing it the best way I can to serve you and to honor you. Help me to do it as well as I’m capable of doing it. And make it a blessing to other people.”

How can Christians view their daily work as ministry?

Ministry means service to other people. And all work, it seems to me, is oriented to the welfare of other people—directly or indirectly. The answer to your question, I think, is to be conscious of your work as service to people by asking the question, well how does this work serve and help people? Once one sees how the work is going to help people, then pray for their blessing through the work. I think that’s the way to go.

What is the greatest challenge facing the Church today?

I think there’s no doubt that the greatest challenge facing the church of the west in 2007 is that the culture is being secularized all around us. We’re living in an era of post-Christianity. And we are losing younger people. Which means that we do need to make a special effort to project the Christian life of wisdom and truth and—well, what should I call it?—contentment, really, Christian contentment to younger people. There’s a quality of life in Christ that the world knows nothing about. And it makes life infinitely richer than life would be without it. Young people today have mostly been brought up in homes where the Bible isn’t read and taught. They don’t say grace. They don’t have family prayers. There’s no religious component therefore in the upbringing that the children get. And all the influences of school and the community projects in which young people get involved, all those influences are away from and out beyond Christian concerns. So the church needs to take a deep breath and go for young people, it seems to me. When the church has secured the faith and the loyalty of young people, and Christ has used the church to bring young people to himself, and young people’s work is strong. Well, then through the young people, the church must labor to capture families. Family Christianity is something basic to Bible Christianity. And we’ve got to try and get it back. We’ll be swimming against the stream all the way. But that I see as the top challenge.

Then after that, the second challenge is keeping the waters of the stream of Christian faith and teaching clear and not—how shall I say it? I was going to say polluted but that’s a hard word, so let me change it. I can’t think of a kindly word. Not infected? That’s no kinder really. But by other ideas. Modifying Christianity in terms of other religions. Modifying Christianity in terms of secular ideas. This is ruinous and it mustn’t happen. So the church has to work hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

Are you saying the Church should make a space for young people?

Yes, I’m saying that. I’m saying more than that. The church first must get its act together in terms of what used to be called catechesis, catechism work. That is a plan, a syllabus, for teaching young people Christian basics. When you look at the youth work in a lot of our churches, you realize that just about everything is being done except teaching the folk the basics. So much is amusement. So little is teaching. And I do want to see things changed on that point.



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