A Study on Calling

New Thoughts for an Old Idea
by Ryan Tafilowski

What am I supposed to do with my life?

It’s a common question these days. And it’s a uniquely modern question.

In his book The Courage to Be, theologian Paul Tillich argued that people of all ages have dealt with anxiety — the sense of being haunted by death or guilt, for example — but what we are most afraid of is emptiness. We struggle to shake the feeling that our days are purposeless and we are beset by the “anxiety about the loss of an ultimate concern, a meaning which gives meaning to all meanings.”

“A meaning which gives meaning to all meanings” — each of us is hardwired to try to find a central purpose through which our lives become meaningful. That’s what vocation is all about. Unfortunately, the original, biblical meaning of calling has been lost in our cultural context, where we’ve been conditioned to identify “calling” with “occupation.” In other words, we tend to think of “vocation” as nothing more than a fancy way of saying “job.”

As we’ll explore together, the Bible offers a much richer and more profound understanding of vocation than we might have realized, according to which each person is called to be genuinely human, to enter into relationship with Jesus Christ, and to steward their individual gifts in service of God and neighbor.

In this four-part Bible study, you will:

Examine the various ways in which the Bible defines vocation and calling;

Explore the relationship between our primary calling to Christian identity and our secondary calling to serve our neighbors through our whole-life vocation; and

Apply practical principles for cultivating personal stewardship in your vocation.

“A Study on Calling” is a free resource from Denver Institute for Faith & Work. Complete the form below to download your complimentary copy.

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Ryan Tafilowski

Ryan serves as theologian-in-residence for Denver Institute for Faith & Work, where he writes and teaches on the integration of faith and work. Alongside his work with Denver Institute, Ryan is an instructor in the Division of Christian Thought at Denver Seminary, where he teaches theology and the history of Christianity, and associate pastor at Foothills Fellowship Church in Littleton. He holds a Th.M. in ecclesiastical history and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Edinburgh. He has published in the areas of inter-religious dialogue, historical theology, and Christian ethics. Ryan lives with his wife, Adrienne, and their daughter in Lakewood. Most importantly, Ryan is a diehard fan of the Denver Nuggets—and he liked them even when they were terrible.