I likely don’t know much about you. After all, this article is being posted on a website that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. I don’t know where you work. I don’t know where you live. I don’t even know what country you might be reading this from. While I might see some you in church every week, others of you I have never met and likely never will. Yet though I may know very little about the details of your life, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I know with complete assurance what your calling in life is. You are called to be a saint.
All of us have, or ought to have, a vocation of some kind, a line of work that we perform on a daily basis. God has made that one pretty simple to figure out—if you don’t work, you have no business eating. Work comes in many forms. Plumbers keep the pipes in order. Homemakers raise the next generation. The military keeps us safe from enemies abroad. Pastors minister the Word and shepherd the flock. Students work hard to pass their exams. Those in retirement have the opportunity to invest their labors wherever they see fit, without having to worry about a paycheck. These and countless other jobs, when done to the glory of God, are good and right and honorable.
It was Luther who overturned the centuries old division between the “spiritual” monks and nuns who spent, or were supposed to spend, their days doing “spiritual” things, and the “ordinary believers,” who did things like work in the fields or change diapers at home. Every vocation, he insisted, when done to the glory of God was “spiritual.” What mattered was the heart disposition—not your job description.
This emphasis is important. It is something vital that we dare not lose. Yet it is not, by itself, enough. Every honest line of work is honorable—but no line of work is ultimate. We have, as believers, many jobs and many vocations. Some may be so integral to who we are that we refer to them as our “calling”—and there is nothing wrong with that.
Yet what we must never forget is that, as believers, our calling, first and foremost, is to be saints—the holy ones of God. You may be very satisfied with your job, loving what you do now and excited about the prospects for the future. You may, on the other hand, be sick and unable to work, unemployed and looking for a job, or so frustrated with your work situation that you sometimes wish you were. Regardless of whether your work situation is wonderful or terrible, you are going to face the temptation to see your job as your defining calling. If you are a believer, it isn’t.
Your ultimate calling, given to you by God Himself, is to be a saint, to live a holy life in the midst of a corrupt and perverse generation. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have a high powered career or barely manage to keep food on the table—if you reflect Christ in the nitty gritty of every day life, reflecting the beauty of the Trinity into whatever situation you find yourself in—you have been successful at your true calling. Yet if you give your career, no matter how honorable or important or “successful,” first place in your life, you will be a miserable failure where it matters most. This applies across the board. From plumbers to pastors to janitors, the primary calling of every believer is to be a saint.
When you are tempted to be discouraged because your career isn’t working out the way you thought it would, remember that your career is not ultimate. When you are tempted to cut corners in your walk with the Lord for the sake of your job, remember that your primary calling is to be a saint, not to have a successful career. No matter how you earn your living, if you are a believer, you are first and foremost a saint.