What do we mean by vocation, anyway?

Alabama club builds wheelchair ramps

Members of the Rotary Club of Greater Huntsville, Alabama, USA, use their vocational skills to build two wheelchair ramps for needy families in December.

By Evan Burrell, a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia

The question we face almost from the time we are old enough to talk is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question most often put to us by our parents, teachers, and friends. When we are young, we are content to keep our answers pretty vague or even whimsical. When I was 10, I wanted to be a Cowboy Astronaut Zookeeper!! Sometimes I wish I was one, if only to see the look on the face of Rotarians who ask me what my vocation is.

The word “vocation” gets bandied about quite a lot in Rotary circles. I saw the word for the first time in some dusty old Rotary manual, I thought to myself “someone keeps misspelling vacation”!

Vocation really means “a calling,” a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or occupation.

Vacation and vocation don’t have to be that far apart if you are doing what you love. Honestly, I think a lot of people confuse the word vocation with what we actually do to earn a buck. But vocation really means “a calling,” a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or occupation. In other words, spending your life doing what your mind and heart feel called to do.

When you’ve found your calling, you know it. You are driven by a passion that fills your life with fulfillment and satisfaction. And it’s that kind of passion that drives Rotary members to celebrate serving through their vocation.

Someone who has a gift for fixing things and working with their hands might be passionate about building. They might use their vocation to build outdoor toilets to improve hygiene in a third world country with help from fellow Rotary members and a grant from the Rotary Foundation.

A person whose gifts are in entrepreneurship and who is passionate about working at home might use their vocation to develop web projects to assist disabled people in their local community.

Whatever your vocation or true calling is, Rotary can help you grow and develop as a person, and reach your full potential.

Your unique gifts and talents can be applied to Rotary service. And in Rotary, you can find opportunities that allow you to exercise your talents and use your capabilities to the fullest extent possible.

Ultimately, whatever your vocation or true calling is, Rotary can help you grow and develop as a person, and reach your full potential. And that is something we would all like to accomplish, isn’t it?

AstronautAbout the author: Evan Burrell is a member of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia, and a former member of Rotaract. He has been involved with Rotary since he was 18 and served Rotaract in almost every capacity possible before joining Rotary. He currently manages social media for Rotary Down Under, the Rotary regional magazine of Australia.

9 thoughts on “What do we mean by vocation, anyway?

  1. Such excellent points in this post. Rotary has exposed me to many different professions and has enhanced my understanding of them. Within my club, my own talents have benefited others as other Rotarian’s talents have caused me to learn new skills. It truly is beneficial to all concerned.

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  2. I believe there is a deeper layer to vocation which is all about our true deep sense of purpose. Yes we need to create a lively hood but look at Dr, Albert Schweitzer “Life becomes harder for us when we live for others but at the same time it becomes richer and happier.” Deep purpose requires deep inner listening and meditation to move to our highest selves….our highest vibrations which are Peace, Joy and Love in descending order…

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  3. Pingback: What do we mean by vocation, anyway? | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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