Vocations - Biblical Examples

What does the Bible say about vocation?

Our Christian vocation begins at our Baptism. There are lots of examples of people in the Bible who are called by God: judges and prophets, like Samuel, Isaiah and Jeremiah, called to speak God’s message to the people of Israel; the Virgin Mary, called to be the mother of Jesus; the disciples, such as the fishermen, called to leave their nets and follow Jesus; and many more. 

For all of them there was an awareness that God was asking them to do something, followed by an act of obedience, even if they were reluctant and thought they were not good enough. For all of them, their willingness to say ‘Yes’ to God was matched by God’s willingness and desire to equip them for the task.

Each of us is gifted, and our vocation is a calling to realise our God-given gifts. St.Paul describes a variety of charisma, or gifts, being given to the Body of Christ, (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12.8-10, Romans 12.6-8). These gifts are not given to individuals just for themselves, but gifts given to members of the Body of Christ for the health of the whole Body. There are lots of examples in the Bible of people who were called by God. Some were reluctant and didn’t think they were good enough. Most were surprised. For all of them their willingness to say ‘yes’ to God was matched with God’s desire to equip them for the task.

Some biblical examples :

You might like to look at how in these passages:

  • 1 Samuel 3: 1-10 – the call of the prophet Samuel when he was a young boy.
  • Jeremiah 1: 4-9 - the call of the prophet Jeremiah who was not at all sure he was ready.
  • Luke 1: 26-38 - the call of Mary to be the mother of Jesus.
  • Luke 5: 1-11 - the call of the fishermen, ordinary people in the midst of their working lives.
  • John 21: 15-19 - the call of Peter, who not long before had denied knowing Jesus.
  • Acts 16: 14-15 – the call of Lydia, a reminder that God calls women too.
  • Ephesians 4: 1-13 – God calls all kinds of people in the ‘Body of Christ’
  • Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. 
  • Isaiah 49:16 - See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.