Friday, November 15, 2013

Vocational Thanksgiving

Two years ago I did a short study of the doctrine of vocation, which teaches us that all labor is a divine calling and a means by which God works his providential care for creation. It changed my attitude toward my own work. Who can resent a task that is God's chosen way to do his benevolent work in our world? Even my  routine chores have meaning if they are a calling from God.

What's more, understanding the doctrine of vocation changed how I think about those whose jobs provide a service to me. Yesterday, for instance, the Purolator man delivered a parcel to my place. It was addressed to my son, and heavy—too heavy to ship by Canada Post. He wheeled the parcel to the garage door and left it there, because he knows that the big stuff goes in the garage/shop that houses my son's business. Later, the mailman delivered two more packages, a book for me to review, and a tool for my son. These are two people whose labor make my life—and the lives of those around me—better.

The doctrine of vocation teaches me that when they delivered their parcels, these men were wearing the "mask of God," to use a phrase from Martin Luther. We might say God was hiding himself in their work, whether they knew it or not. He was caring for me and mine through them. They are his good gifts to me, along with all the other people whose jobs make my life better.

During this season, as I practice the discipline of thanksgiving, I'm trying to remember to thank God for the ordinary people whose labor serves me. Thinking through my day, besides the two men mentioned above, I'm thankful for 
  • the workers in my grocery store. God provides my food through them. 
  • the farm workers who grow and harvest fruit and vegetables and the truck drivers who transport them to my grocery store. God feeds me through their labor, too.
  • those who maintain our winter roads, who are God's means to keep me safe as I drive.
There are more, but let's make this a cooperative exercise of thanksgiving. What workers are you thankful for? Whose labour does God use to provide good things for you? Tell us, and thank God for them, in the comments.


  1. I'm thankful for the public works department, law enforcement, firefighters, healthcare workers, and people in the trades who build and repair things.

  2. I am thankful for good public school teachers who have very difficult jobs at times.

  3. I too am thankful for educators and teachers as well as the school support personnel who keep my sons' schools clean and safe. I am also thankful for the technicians who create and maintain the technological wonder that is the Internet and all its many manifestations from blogs like this one to Twitter to the various apps that make my life easier. And I am thankful for book authors and publishers, now and through the centuries, who have produced the literary wealth accessible to us today.

  4. A great post. I've been thinking about this too. Just last month I wrote a post about how I am thankful for cleaners - and other such people like rubbish collectors and the like - who do awful jobs for us every day of their working lives, who make our lives so much easier and yet so often are treated like second class citizens.

  5. I'm thankful for the people who faithfully work the thankless jobs I use everyday - the check-out people at Walmart or the guy who stocks the groceries. If they all didn't show up for work I'd be really be in a pickle. (no pun intended)