Rethinking work as vocation: from protestant advice to gospel corrective

File Under: Academic Excellence

Professors everywhere—like parents—desire good things for the students in whom they invest.

Fulfillment. Meaningful careers. Continued education. Good reputations. Happy family relationships. Financial security.

But Malone University professors want even more for their students. They want them to find their callings.

In a faculty development presentation Wednesday afternoon entitled, Rethinking Work as Vocation: From Protestant Advice to Gospel Corrective, Professor of Political Science Scott Waalkes presented the pros and cons of various ways of viewing vocation. These can be summed up in the words of Frederick Buechner that, “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

"As I read the Gospels, however, I am struck that [Buechner's view] needs to be leavened with Gospel yeast," said Waalkes. “I still advise students to find the match between their gifts and the world's needs. Ultimately, though, our primary calling is to discipleship—to hearing the voice of Jesus calling us to follow Him and ‘fish for people’,” said Waalkes. “This involves change and transformation. Joining in His mission of redeeming the world.”

“The truth is that human institutions are broken and potentially oppressive,” he continued. “The workplace is messed up, in a lot of ways. We pray that students will be motivated to work for justice by locating its source in the surprises of the cross and the empty tomb.”

The way Jesus dealt with his disciples, he continued, was to wash their feet, to serve them.

Waalkes is inspired by the mission statement of Malone University, that our calling—to seek Christ’s Kingdom first—charges our community to provide students with an education based in biblical faith in order to develop men and women in intellectual maturity, wisdom, and Christian faith who are committed to serving the church, community, and world.

Malone professors hope their students will embrace the call to serve others.