I have often asked seminarians to think carefully about the Gospel ministry. It is not something you choose. It chooses you. No, no; He—the sovereign Lord of grace—chooses His own. He chooses us generally—to hear His Word, particularly—effectually responding unto salvation, and specifically—to a particular ministry of the Gospel.
David Brooks’ book, The Road to Character, contains a helpful contrast of “career” and “vocation.” It is an important insight.
“Persons choosing a career look for job opportunities and room for advancement. A person choosing a career is looking for something that will provide financial and psychological benefits. If your job or career isn’t working for you, you choose a different one.
A person does not choose a vocation. A vocation is a calling. People generally feel they have no choice in the matter. Their life would be unrecognizable unless they pursued this line of activity” (David Brooks, The Road to Character, 24).
To have a career is a noble thing given to all of us to earn our livings. To have a vocation is a humbling thing. It is a summons to serve another.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16).