God’s Calling and Your Vocation

How Our Jobs and Good Deeds Fit Inside God’s Economy

In God’s economy, everything – from the smallest act of kindness to the overall shape of your work and career – is important. But how does it all fit together?

Work, Calling, and Contribution

Nine-Week Bible Studies

If you are introducing a small group to the topic of work and calling or are just getting started yourself, we suggest you start with A Biblical Perspective on Work, Vocation and Calling. A good second step would be one of the calling and assessment resources in the section below.

  • A Biblical Perspective on Work, Vocation and Calling – This study begins with the meaning of work and ends with a look at God’s overall calling on our lives. In the middle, this study examines topics such as the role of kindness and good deeds and the many ways we can contribute to the world around us.
  • Daniel: Thriving at Work as an Exile – After the fall of Jerusalem, Daniel found himself living and working as an exile in a hostile, foreign culture. What did he do? How did he survive? This study is not an exhaustive look at the book of Daniel, the life of Daniel or the topic of work. It is a look at Daniel in the workplace. (Daniel: Thriving at Work as an Exile-B: This version is the same as the above but without the visual image exercises.)
  • Nehemiah: When God’s Call Comes Calling at Work – Nehemiah was thrown into a task that was larger than what he could possibly accomplish on his own, and yet, his heart burned with a desire to see the job completed. This study is not an exhaustive study of the topic of work, and it is not a study of Nehemiah’s entire life. Instead, it provides an “insider’s view” into the heart, decision-making and leadership style of one person who responded with all he had to God’s lead. It is a case study of a godly hero in the workplace.

Calling and Assessment Resources

  • Theology of Work Article and Discussion Guide – This guide walks you through a thoughtful article (filled with biblical references) that examines the connection between work and calling. It includes a thorough discussion of the role of church and links to additional articles, podcasts and interviews (including an interview with Johnny Cash).
  • Exploring Your Life Purpose – Interested in looking closer at how God made you? This “toolkit” will help you look inwards, outwards, backwards and forward to better understand your life purpose.

Shorter Bible Studies

  • The Role of Work – This five-week study examines the origin of work, the effect of the fall on work, the gospel and work, character in the workplace and the role of rest and worship. (This material covers the same topics as the first part of the Biblical Perspective study listed above.)
  • Vocation: It’s Bigger than Your Job – One of the hardest questions for many people to sort out is how work, interests (such as volunteer work or relief efforts), simple kindness, walking with God and ministry all fit together. This three-part study looks at calling, service and the gospel to help you figure out your own convictions. (This material covers the same topics as the second part of the Biblical Perspective study listed above.)
  • The Gift of Work – This short Bible study (1.5 – 2 hours) covers the basics of a rich theology of work. It examines why we work and how our own work fits into God’s plans for our world.
  • The “Doing Good” Bible Study – This one-page word study, compiled by Craig Parker, is simple but powerful. Read through quickly to get a glimpse of how important doing good is to God.

One-on-One or Small Group Discussion Guides

Videos

These three videos show how people are working out their calling, even as they adjust to the new context of life after college.

Nav20s: Chicago – Transitions – A picture of hope – even during transition.

Nav20s: Atlanta – Challenges and Opportunities – Focuses on the challenges – and opportunities – of moving to a new place and starting work.

Nav20s: Right Where You Are – Christ, Work, Mission and Community – Combines interviews from Chicago and Atlanta to highlight the role that the Nav20s can play in the transition to life after college.

The Nav20s video discussion guide can be used with any of the three videos above. These videos have also been collected into a video album.

User’s Guide

To study the topic of work with a small group or to kickoff a series of one-on-one meetings, we suggest you begin with the “big picture.” Use either 1) the introduction and the first study in A Biblical Perspective on Work, Vocation and Calling, 2) The Gift of Work study (do the first page together, assign the rest for “homework” and finish with a second meeting to discuss homework) or 3) this video by Jerry White.

To go further, do the rest of the Biblical Perspective study or pick and choose among its chapters or the chapters of the Nehemiah or Daniel studies. Most are titled clearly and can generally stand alone.

To start on the topic of calling, use either 1) the “Theology of Work” article and discussion guide or 2) the introduction to the Biblical Perspective study. To go deeper, pick parts of the Exploring Your Life Purpose toolkit.

To lead a Collegiate Nav night or senior seminar, use the “Right Where You Are” video and video discussion guide. Follow the discussion with a short talk on any of the Nav20s pursuits: Christ, Work, Mission, and Community. Mention challenges but focus on the positives of transitioning into a new context. (Seek to serve the audience, not recruit them.) End with prayer. To lead a longer “transition” seminar, consider this four week plan.


Our deepest thanks to the Lilly Endowment, who funded the development of God’s Calling and Your Vocation through their College Ministry Theological Exploration of Vocation initiative.

three people reading Bibles