Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Perception of Calling: Case Studies and Implications for Counseling

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Perception of Calling: Case Studies and Implications for Counseling

Article excerpt

In May of 2013, a devastating tornado leveled Moore, Oklahoma, injuring hundreds and killing 24 people, including nine children. One of the locals was Val Castor, a storm chaser and tornado tracker for a local television station. Mr. Castor had spent more than two decades as a storm chaser and was interviewed by Scott Simon of National Public Radio (NPR) three days after the tornado struck. Toward the end of the interview, Simon asked Castor, "Did you ever think of moving your family to Maine and opening a quilting shop?" To which Castor responded, "Well, I don't know how to quilt, and second it's boring. And third thing, I storm chase because I feel God has called me to do that. I feel it is a calling that I have to be a benefit to the public and help keep people safe" (Simon, 2013).

Castor's response laid out succinctly three foci of vocational psychologists as they have attempted to explain the complex issues that are related to how people choose their occupations. Historically, vocational psychologists and counselors since Parsons (1909) have approached career development by focusing on Castor's first and second points. That is, what is the relationship of the occupation to the skills and abilities of the worker and do the interests of the worker and the work match? It has not been until recently that career scholars have turned their attention to the third point made by Castor, calling. The questions of calling and the role of work in the individual's understanding of the purpose and meaning of life have been left to the philosopher and the theologian. Over the past decade, there has been increasing attention to the relationship of a sense of vocation or calling to career development and workplace variables (Cardador & Caza, 2012; Dik & Duffy, 2009). Duffy and Dik (2013) provide a comprehensive review of the explosion of literature in the area of perception of calling since 2007.

Counselors familiar with this calling research can approach their clients with a conceptual framework that allows clients the opportunity to explore their work life from the richly textured perspective of summons, duty, and purpose. This review highlights issues of that literature that are of significance to counselors addressing work-related issues with clients. In addition, we present case studies that are illustrative of counseling approaches informed by the perception of calling.

Classical Perspective of Calling

In the Book of Genesis, the first clear allusions to work occur in the first and second chapter when God creates the universe and creates people in his image. In the first chapter, the "cultural mandate" instructs humans to serve as caretakers or managers of creation (Gen. 1:28). In the second, the word "work" appears for the first time when on the seventh day God rested from the "work of creation" (Gen. 2:2). Shortly thereafter, we again come upon a notion of work, when we read that God punishes Adam for his disobedience by commanding that by the sweat of his face he shall eat (Gen. 3:19). Thus in the first pages of scripture, the complex and conflicted relationship of humankind and work is depicted. On the one hand, work was the burden of sustenance, making a living, not necessarily making a life. On the other hand, work was in the noble nature of humans. Productive work was people's call to co-creating and the living out of that essence of how they were made, in the image of the Creator.

Through the Middle Ages, the perspective of work as drudgery was the norm. In the medieval mind, most work held no intrinsic value and was carried out in obedience to God and to meet physical needs and not to accrue wealth or change social status (Placher, 2005). The concept of calling, vocatio, was reserved to the religious life (e.g. priests, monks, and nuns). There was a deep divide in the world of work between the sacred and secular, with the sacred a blessing and the secular a burden.

Martin Luther was instrumental in changing the way work was viewed by acknowledging that the role played by "the tailors, cobblers, masons, carpenters, pot-boys, tapsters, farmers, and all the secular tradesmen . …

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