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Life is mission. We need to be flexible to respond. We do, however, need to take time to rest, or we burn out and are not useful to others. Living in community has its ups and its downs.

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Khmer culture goes well with Aussie culture, but is also very different. It is enriching to our lives to find a way to get along with others, rather than just hanging with those who are similar to us. Have an empowering mindset. When we worked in an NGO for the first few years, it was a slow process to empower our Cambodian colleagues until they came up with the lightbulb ideas. It can be arduous work for us, but it means Cambodians will own these initiatives. What about their family?

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Can their community? True help brings about long-term change and empowerment. Through being present in our community we have been able to see needs and journey with Cambodians who are willing to respond. These include: helping someone navigate the health system, advocating with the village leader to get the drainage fixed, standing in-between a husband who is beating his wife.

Christians who mobilize for pro-life causes—even when this means criticizing officials and working to change laws—are acting in their divine vocation as citizens. Christians who, like the prophets, challenge the evils in their societies, including those perpetuated by their officials or their institutions, are acting in their divine vocations as citizens. So are Christians running for the local school board, demonstrating at the statehouse, going to precinct meetings, and voting for the candidates who best reflect their beliefs.

Christian political activism falls under the vocation of citizenship—not the vocation of faith; and it is important, as shall be seen, not to confuse the different callings. But Christians are called to be engaged not just in government but in their cultures as a whole, working, through their various vocations, to make their country, if only in a small way, a better place for their neighbors. That is to say, a person becomes a Christian by being called by God.

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The promise that God will work things out for the good of His children has to do with vocation. The next verses give another remarkable promise related to vocation. A Christian, then, is someone who has heard and believed the Gospel—that is to say, someone who has been called to faith by the Word of God.

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Christians will feel an affinity for their fellow believers wherever they are, especially when they find them out in the secular world or in a common vocation. In all of the ordinariness of a local church and an average Sunday morning worship service, Christ—as with other vocations, though this time in a spiritually saving way—is hidden. The vocation of the pastor is a special office indeed. Not that it is more meritorious than any other vocation. Christ carries out His shepherding, in large measure, through the vocation of the pastor. Laypeople are especially positioned to reach people outside the church, by virtue of their secular vocations, which put them in contact with people who would never darken the door of a church.

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles?

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Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

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Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?


Chapter 9: The Ethics of Vocation What surprises some Christians is that when all is said and done, the specific responsibilities of vocation are not any different, from the outside, for Christians or non-Christians. A Christian construction worker or a Christian physician does pretty much what a good non-Christian in those fields must do. The difference is on the inside, as faith—or the lack of faith—makes a difference in the meaning of those tasks and in the way they become acceptable to God. The doctrine of vocation brings the spiritual life, literally, down to earth.

What about abortion? What about sexual morality? Can there be homosexual marriage?

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What about the new reproductive technologies What about the use of surrogate mothers, in which a woman conceives a baby for another couple? It is already apparent from these examples that vocation has the capacity to authorize certain actions, and that some things are right when done inside of vocation, but wrong when done outside of vocation. The very same action can be right or wrong, depending on the vocation of the person doing it.

When we act outside of our vocations—that is, when we try to do something we have no calling for—we are only creating trouble for ourselves. Sometimes this may involve a moral transgression, as in taking the law into our own hands instead of calling the police or having sex with someone we are not married to. More often, acting outside of vocation is morally innocent, but it results in ineffectiveness, frustration, and wasted time.

However much we sin in and against our vocations—and we sin a great deal—God is at work in them. So there is glory in the Christian life, but in the meantime we must bear our crosses. And when we do, we find that we are driven to depend on Jesus more and more.

It is not just sin that gives us trouble in vocation. We face trials. We face tribulations. Sometimes we experience utter failure. A businessman builds a company, providing goods and services to the public, employing scores of workers. This is his calling, and he is good at what he does. But then the economy turns.

He has to lay people off. He tries, but he cannot save his business. He goes bankrupt. He thinks, What about my calling now? Sometimes trials are temptations. In other words, the Devil tempts the holder of a vocation to the way of glory.


Insisting on being served rather than serving, the calling becomes an occasion to wallow in pride. The mentality this creates is one of self-sufficiency. The person in this vocation feels no need for dependence on God. There is certainly no need for the Gospel, since the person in this successful position is doing just fine by himself. The Devil has twisted the vocation so that it undermines both love for neighbor and love for God.

In contrast, the Christian uses vocation as an occasion to serve, which in itself is humbling and self-denying. Trials and tribulations, even failure, keep Christians aware of their weakness, aware of their utter dependence on God.

And it gives them empathy for their neighbors in need and a desire to serve them out of love.