This Lenten Season, I have taken on a personal/professional growth goal: working through Dan Miller’s 48 Days To The Work You Love. To force myself out of my one cracking great weakness, procrastination, I borrowed the book from my local library instead of purchasing it immediately. Believe me, this is one work worth the shelf space. It is available in traditional print and Kindle version at Amazon.com . Currently, I am at the point of defining for myself the words vocation, career and job. Why don’t we travel together in this journey awhile? It would be a hoot!
We must have clear, personal meanings for vocation, career, and job since these words are too often used interchangeably. A closer examination using the Oxford English Dictionary shows just how farcically inaccurate doing that is. Consider that the word, “career”, which comes to the English language from a 16th century French word, “carriere”:a “road; a racecourse”. In turn, the French word comes from the Latin, “caraia”:a track for wheeled vehicles. Its root is the Latin word, “carrus”, or, wagon. This is probably where we got the word, “carriage” and “car” from. So, a career is a racetrack–like the Roman Circus Maximums in the movie, “Ben Hur”. Don’t you love this rushing around and around in a circle? Nascar: that’s a career!
Gazing deeply at the word, “vocation”, we see in the Merriam Webster Dictionary that this noun strikes one of the main chords in “passion” (another word bandied about these days in employment lingo). Having a vocation means having a strong desire to be/to belong someplace or in something. Vocation has a “fixation” or object/place of desire. Until the employment profession co-opted the term, it used to mean the personal answer to a divine call toward living a life dedicated to serving in a priesthood. The word has roots in Middle English, Anglo-French and Latin–combining “vocare”, to call, and “vox”, voice. A person with a vocation hears a “call” to a specific kind of work and is in essence “saying yes” in answer to that divine summons. Drawn toward heaven: that’s a vocation.
Last of all there is the word, “job”. A job is “a paid position of regular employment”, according to the Oxford Dictionaries. This noun seems to be the “one-dollar bill” of economic currency, embracing the idea of a “task” or a “responsibility” carried out on a regular basis. I cannot get a fix on exactly where this word comes from, but it sure carries a nasty connotation that focuses on every-day, basic, common, and even difficult and dirty tasks. It is even used as slang for paid criminal acts. Of all three, this is the word that has in its morphology become an action word. The hamster wheel:what we have to do every day to earn the salt…or the lettuce.
So, tell me…what is the definition of these words in your life?