What is Vocation?

Understanding Vocation – By Dr. Jeremy Myers

We believe you are called – equipped, empowered, driven, and responsible – to make this world a better place for your neighbor. That’s the essence of vocation.

You have probably heard the word vocation used to talk about one’s job. It is sometimes used to describe post-secondary educational institutions designed to train individuals for certain trades such as electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc. We use the term differently at Augsburg. It can be associated with your job, but it is also much more than that. Vocation is the way you are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things.

The History of Vocation of Augsburg University

Augsburg University is a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This is a Christian denomination named after and rooted in the theological views developed by Martin Luther, the same monk who challenged the church’s understanding of vocation in his time. Martin Luther is known as the founder of the Protestant church movement. This was a protest movement against the traditional establishment of the Christian church which, in Luther’s opinion, had become corrupt and oppressive. Martin Luther was a radical, the Lutheran denomination can be thought of as a radical protest movement at its origins, and Augsburg University should continue to see itself as part of this stream of radical protest seeking to reform both the church and our society into systems that are more just and equitable.

The Present Understanding of Vocation at Augsburg University

Martin Luther’s understanding of vocation has always been at the heart of Augsburg’s mission and identity as a seminary, a college, and now a university that seeks to develop leaders for the sake of a better world. We want our students, faculty, and staff to develop a deeper understanding of how they are equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make our world a better place for all living things through the work we do in all the roles we play in life (sibling, colleague, student, parent, child, friend, neighbor, etc.).

This statement on vocation was written by the faculty in Augsburg University’s Religion Department.

“Vocation is a concept central to the life of Augsburg University. Vocation is a lens for looking at and thinking about one’s life and how it is lived out in the world. In vocation, one is summoned by a call; one may perceive that “voice” as coming from God, a higher power, one’s deepest self, or from lived experience which leads one to gain a sense of purpose or meaning. The Lutheran Tradition believes that vocation is unique to the individual, related to one’s core identity, gifts, skills, and passion.

At the same time, vocation is not only about self—it involves identifying and responding to the needs in the community or world. Vocation is best framed as a journey, rather than a destination—a life-long process that looks differently at different times in one’s life.”

Why Should this Matter to You?

This idea of vocation – that each person is equipped, empowered, called, and driven to make the world a better place for our neighbors – is not limited to Christianity. Therefore, at Augsburg we are committed to helping each student learn how to discern the way in which they are being called to serve their neighbor. We want to help you identify the issues in our communities and in our world that concern you and break your heart. We want to help you recognize the gifts and the strengths you already have that will help you address those issues.

Stage 1: Step 2 of the V-Portfolio is an opportunity for students to write their own definition of vocation.