A framework for vocation adapted from Ignatius Loyola

by Paul Burmeister

What follows is a Christian framework for decision-making, specifically applied to vocation, which is a liberal adaptation from Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, “Two Methods of Making (a Choice) during the Third Occasion.”) My adaptation is Lutheran, and so I avoid connecting choices to merit or salvation; however, I agree with an emphasis on prayer in the process.

When selecting or discerning your vocation, in the narrow sense—work or career—here is a good process or sequence.
1. Place the options or choices in front of yourself.
2. Remember the end of your choice (to use your God-given gifts to serve others) and maintain a perspective not owing to internal and / or external pressures.
3. Pray to God for help and guidance, remembering the Third Petition (that God’s will be done in your life.)
4. Apply reason to your choice, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a narrowed set of options.
5. Make a choice. Remember that your choice can be dynamic or mutable, over time and experience.
6. Ask God, in prayer, for his blessing on your choice.

This is not the only process, and it should be considered as part of a larger, inclusive experience of a person’s calling.

Choice and enclosure

by Paul Burmeister

In his 2016 essay on vocation and higher education, professor William T. Cavanaugh begins by tracing or outlining the historic concept of vocation in Western, capitalist culture and society. Choice is examined against the background of religious and economic developments, since the Middle Ages and the Protestant Reformation. Cavanaugh asks, what are the positive and negative aspects of choice, and is choice accompanied by inevitable enclosures? For example, does choice deliver on its promised freedom or on its effective coersion? Does choice create winners and losers? Does the actor experience access or restriction? Will the actor become an author / owner or a steward in the economy?