Wild Hope Center for Vocation

What Does the Search for Your Vocation Look Like?

What will you live for? What are you called to be and to do? These questions express a search for meaning and purpose in one's life-your "vocation" in the fullest and original sense of the term.

Within the last century "vocation" has accrued a much narrower, merely occupational sense-witness the term "vocational education," for example. In our most sustained desires, though, the rich original sense of vocation has never stopped dogging us. Life seems empty unless we sense that what we do and who we are is part of something larger than just a livelihood. We want to bring ourselves into some sense of connection with the world, some genuine service to it.

Yet how can you, as a particular person, discern how to do that? It is dangerous to generalize, but the search for meaning and purpose in one's life does have some markers.

  • Finding your vocation is not just "discovering your bliss ."3 The connection of vocation to service to the world shouts loudly and clearly that meaning and purpose in life are more than personal happiness. To be sure, living with meaning and purpose manifests the joy of being alive, but it is more than that. It is living with a discernment that something for you truly makes sense . And it makes sense even after all the searching, critical examination of life and society that comes with a liberal education such as you get at PLU-no, not "even after" such critical examination, but especially because of it!

  • Insights come in part from asking "big-enough" questions. For example, not "what will the neighbors think?" but "what makes sense for me to do for the world as I have now come to understand it?" Not "how can I make good money, more money?" but "what is the meaning of money, and how much is enough?" Big-enough questions challenge you; they push you to make some deeper sense of the world, and deeper meaning for your life. Perhaps, in fact, much of the meaning and purpose that people finally discern for their lives stems simply from continually asking such questions as they bump up against the world. The answers may not always be clear, but the questions continue to act as "sparks of instructive fire." creativity, and without duplicity.

  • In your search, it helps to have real mentors. You need not only to put yourself in a position where the world can call you to something, and to work hard to discern the glimpses into what life might harbor constructively for yourself. You also need mentors-people who recognize what you could become, who challenge and push you with big-enough questions, who support and encourage you in the often difficult struggle that ensues from those questions, and who inspire you by their own example A PLU education is about expanding your personal possibilities.