Russell Moore sits down with United States Senator Ben Sasse to discuss parenting, work, and Sasse's new book, "The Vanishing American Adult." Sasse talks about some of the challenges of raising kids in a culture where perpetual adolescence is encouraged, and shares some practical advice for parents.
The prophet Daniel is best known for surviving a night in the lions’ den—as an octogenarian no less. Much earlier in his life, Daniel survived three years in a different kind of lions’ den: an internship in the Babylonian royal court. His courage and conviction in that setting offer useful lessons for young people thrown into a contemporary capital: interns in Washington, D.C.
Daniel and his cohorts came to Babylon, the capital city of the hegemonic Babylonian empire, by a different route than D.C. interns; rather than arriving in triumph as the conquering heroes of their high school academic and social circles, these Hebrew teenagers came as hostages of a conquering foreign power. Yet in other ways, these two groups share much in common. The Babylonians selected their captives carefully, choosing “youths in whom there was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court.” They were, in many ways, similar to the undergraduate and graduate students who descend on Washington every semester: bright, intelligent, idealistic, yet also young, naïve, and impressionable.
These young Jewish men (historians estimate 50 to 75 of them) were to be taught “the language and literature” of the Babylonians in preparation for government service in the provinces. After their arrival, the young Hebrew men encountered a capital party scene characterized by excess and decadence. They were daily fed the “king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank.” It was as though every meal was an open bar at a steakhouse, sponsored by a special interest group.
The Hebrew interns encountered a culture of indulgence and idolatry, fueled by imperial power and coerced tribute. Interns in Washington, D.C., today can find a strikingly similar environment. Hill interns achieve pop star status by embracing such a lifestyle—google Monica Lewinsky and Chandra Levy. In the words of one news report, “It’s a stylish life for an intern at Capitol Hill; so much so, the nightlife is often the talk of Washington DC.” Life for many interns is “coffee, copies, and copulation.”
The Hebrew “interns” faced an equally daunting challenge. The Bible tells us that four of the young Israelite men refused the sumptuous feast from the king’s table—four out of more than fifty. Daniel and his three friends (we know them best by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, the three who survived the furnace after refusing to bow to an idol) rejected the stylish but sinful life for a life in line with their principles.
This is yet another iteration of a clear Biblical principle: you become who you hang out with. We know that Daniel and his three friends all had Godly names, suggesting they came from devout families. And they grew up in Israel during Josiah’s reign, an age of great awakening prompted by prophets and the rediscovery of God’s word.Transplanted to Babylon, they were stripped of their spiritual support structures. But they still had one another.
So find friends who share your values and your desire to get the most out of D.C. There are great churches in town. They know you’re only here for a few months, you don’t know lots of other folks, and you’re looking for fellowship and fun. They all have numerous opportunities to plug in, connect, and explore. Take advantage of them.
Washington is an awe-inspiring town filled with interesting people and innumerable things to do. Monuments and museums are only the beginning of what the city offers the curious, adventurous, and fun-loving. Plus, virtually all of it comes at the ideal price for a cash-strapped intern (free!). The Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, jazz in the Sculpture Garden, or a bike ride on Roosevelt Island with your friends can be far more fun than yet another night of pitchers of Miller High Life and BBQ wings on Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
Back to Daniel and his crew. Daniel did not want to defile himself with the king’s food for various spiritual reasons, so he went to the king’s chief of staff. The Bible tells us, “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.” This approach suggests that you should pray for the people in your office, to show you favor, to be your friend and mentor (equally, we who work with interns should pray for them).
Notice also that Daniel went to the king’s chief of staff. Interns should respect but not fear the senior staff. In my experience, senior staff members rarely begrudge the occasional honest and earnest inquiry from an intern. Notice that Daniel, not the chief of staff, initiated the contact. Senior staff, especially in a place like Washington, are busy people with jam-packed inboxes. Rarely will they just stop by your desk, invite you into their office, and start a conversation. However, even more rare is the senior staff member who will spurn an email from an intern that politely seeks a half-hour appointment to discuss convictions and career. A short, respectful e-mail works nearly every time, and a hand-written “thank you” note afterwards will sometimes seal a mentoring relationship that could last an entire career.
In this case, the chief of staff turns down Daniel’s request out of fear of the king. So Daniel turns next to his immediate supervisor. Daniel asked the supervisor to test them for ten days, feeding them nothing but vegetables and water rather than the royal food and wine. The supervisor consented, and “at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food.” So he permitted them to continue this diet for the remainder of their time in his custody.
The lesson is simple: if you can be reasonable, your internship supervisor can be flexible. If you want to do something particular, such as watching oral argument at the Supreme Court one morning, for instance, virtually every supervisor will assent—they understand that you want to get the most out of your short time in D.C.
This verse concerning the young men’s appearance prompts another observation: looking sharp is important in D.C. Particularly in the warm summer months, one cannot miss the scantily-clad female interns roaming the marble halls of Washington. Clothing choices reflect and perpetuate the hook-up culture. Though you don’t need to wear a Brooks Brothers suit every day, you will be treated like an adult and professional only if you dress like one.
Our model Hebrew “interns” also prompt some reading recommendations. Daniel and his three friends were faithful, and God blessed them with “knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom.” Interns who wish to grow in knowledge and understanding of how Washington operates should read the publications that the staff read, such as Politico’s morning e-mail newsletters like Mike Allen’s Playbook, The Huddle (for Congress), and Morning Score (for campaigns and elections).
As the first chapter of Daniel draws to a close, so does the educational phase of the young Israelites’ residence in the royal palace. Finally, they reach the last day of their internship and get the “grip and grin” moment with King Nebuchadnezzar himself. The king chatted with all the young Israelite men, “and he found none equal” to the four we have been following. “So they entered the king’s personal service.”
Of course, not all D.C. interns get a job out of the experience, though certainly many do. According to one staffer, “When it comes to getting a job in Washington, I really can’t think of a better method than interning on the Hill.” Stay in touch with your office—send a Christmas card, intern next for the district office, or set up a lunch visit on an upcoming trip to Washington for a conference or vacation. If you made a positive impression, people will remember you, and probably help you out in the future.
Daniel and his three compatriots all faced further challenges over the course of their careers in government. Daniel eventually rose to be prime minister of the Babylonian empire, and his three friends were made governors in Babylon. Just as the four Jews’ experience in the Babylonian court prepared them for their later trials of furnaces and beasts, so the modern intern’s experience can be a test that prepares them for challenges throughout their careers. Young people who seek to emulate Daniel’s example, to make the most of Washington while staying true to themselves, may take inspiration from a gospel song by the American hymn writer Philip Bliss:
Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.
 Daniel 1:3. See also Isaiah 39:5-7 (“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,” says the LORD. “And some of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.”’”) and II Kings 20:16-18 (same). All translations quoted are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.
 Daniel 1:4.
 John MacArthur, “An Uncompromising Life,” Oct. 21, 1979, http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/27-03_An-Uncompromising-Life.
 Daniel 1:5.
 Daniel 1:5a.
 Nona Walia, “India shining at Capitol Hill,” The Times of India, August 17, 2004, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/delhi-times/India-shining-at-Capitol-Hill/articleshow/817496.cms.
 Carrie Lukas, “Coffee, Copies, and Copulation,” National Review Online, July 18, 2005, http://old.nationalreview.com/comment/lukas200507180808.asp. See “2005 Capitol Hill Intern Study,” the polling company, inc., July 2005, http://www.iwf.org/files/77c932bbf15c696398ce0a734ac7054e.pdf.
 Daniel 1:14.
 Daniel 3.
 See, e.g., Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 27:17, 1 Corinthians 15:33.
 MacArthur, supra note 3.
 W. A. Criswell, “The Captives in the Court of Nebuchadnezzar,” February 11, 1968, http://www.wacriswell.org/PrintTranscript.cfm/SID/2136.cfm.
 See Matthew Henry, “Daniel 1,” Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible,” http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/mhc-com/view.cgi?book=da&chapter=001.
 Daniel 1:9.
 Daniel 1:10.
 Daniel 1:15.
 Betsy Rothstein, “The bad rap of Capitol Hill interns,” The Hill, June 21, 2005, http://thehill.com/capital-living/23860-the-bad-rap-of-capitol-hill-interns. See also Belle, “A Guide to Capitol Hill Intern Style,” Capitol Hill Style, June 1, 2009, http://capitolhillstyle.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/a-guide-to-capitol-hill-intern-style/ (“Many of the men on Capitol Hill refer to the summer months as ‘intern season’ because the majority of twenty-something interns tend to dress like New Jersey teenagers at a nightclub looking to get laid.”) and Dlat, “Hill Intern Hotties: Nominations Needed,” Wonkette, June 20, 2006, http://wonkette.com/181975/hill-intern-hotties-nominations-needed (“Summer spells hotness for D.C. — and we’re not just talking about the weather. Yes, that’s right: it’s intern season on Capitol Hill.”).
 Daniel 1:17.
 See Mark Leibovich, “The Man the White House Wakes Up To,” New York Times, April 21, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25allen-t.html.
 Daniel 1:18-19.
 Daniel 1:19b.
 Eric Yoder, “Capitol Hill internships can kickoff careers,” WashingtonPost.com, June 25, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49884-2003Dec9.html.
 Daniel 2: 48-49. They received promotions after their experience with the furnace. Daniel 3:30.
 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions 80 (2nd ed., 2002).
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two part series. Click here to read Part I.
In our previous post, we considered the history, definition and discernment of the Puritan doctrine of vocation. The Puritan doctrine of vocation can teach the modern evangelical church much about living under the eye of God, particularly in the family, marketplace, government and the church. The family is the foundational unit of a godly society, according to the Puritans. “Marriage was made…by God himself, to be the fountain…of all other sorts and kinds of life in the commonwealth and in the church.” The Puritans high view of family naturally meant they viewed family as a vocation and, its end, the glory of God.
The Puritans accepted the headship of the husband and father as a biblical command which was meant for the good of the family and the glory of God. The man, as husband, is called to love his wife as Christ loves the church, particularly exhibited in love and wisdom. The man, as father, is called of God to lead, guide and care for his children in making physical provision, moral instruction and discipline. A father had to provide for his children because they were unable to provide for themselves. Also, every father, according to the law at the time, had to see that his children were instructed “in some honest lawful calling, labor or imployment, either in husbandry or some other trade profitable for themselves and the Commonwealth if they will not or cannot train them up in learning to fit them for higher imployments.” Benjamin Wadsworth advised parents, “If you’re careful to bring them up diligently in proper business, you take a good method for their comfortable subsistence in this World (and for their being serviceable to their Generation) you do better for them then if you should bring them up idly, and yet leave them great Estates.”
In the family, women were called to be wives and mothers. The Puritans taught the counterpart of the husband’s headship is the wife’s submission. As one Puritan minister put it, the wife is “to guide the house and not guide the husband.” The wife is “to keep at home, educating…her children, keeping and improving what is got by the industry of [her husband].” William Gouge rooted submission in the command of God: “Though there seem to be never so little disparity, yet God having so expressly appointed subjection, it ought to be acknowledged.”
Submission, however, did not mean, for the Puritans, that wives were of lesser dignity than their husbands. Rather, such hierarchy in the family is “a matter of function and not of worth, a style of managing the family, not an assessment of personal value.”“God, the first Institutor of marriage, gave the wife unto the husband, to bee, not his servant, but his helper, counselor and comforter.” The husband and wife are spiritually equal with different vocations ordained by God in the context of the family.
The vocation of both man and woman in the family, should God grant offspring, is to be father and mother. Parental responsibility was of utmost importance in Puritan thought. Cotton Mather said parents must “give an account of the souls that belong unto their families.” As to work, parents should not expose the immortal souls of their children to apparent hazards in anticipation of possible monetary gain. Rather, “let the children spend time in places where God is reverently worshipped and their day spent dwelling on spiritual matters, where the weak and impulsive nature of their children is properly restrained, and where they will be taught how to live from an eternal perspective.” Parenting in Puritan thought was a vocation of stewardship, endeavoring that “their children may be more God’s children than theirs.”
The more common use of the term “vocation,” at least in the modern sense, relates to one’s career or job. This was, of course, a common usage by the Puritans, too. “That everyone who is capable of working should be employed in some way is a truth so evident that little needs to be said to support it. Indeed, no one has been created to always be idle or merely busy now and then as humor or fancy inclines him. We should be occupied with the business to which we are called, not busy concerning ourselves with the business of others. The wise Governor of the universe has called everyone to a certain occupation, and will rebuke rather than reward those who are busy with other activity.”
One effect of the Puritan concept of vocation is to make the worker a steward who serves God. Rather than agonize over whether the content of the work was holy – though that was a consideration – the Puritan concern was that the worker perform the work he is called to as to God. Richard Baxter wrote, “Choose that employment or calling in which you may be most serviceable to God. Choose not that in which you may be most rich or honorable in the world; but that in which you may do most good, and best escape sinning.”
In the present job market situation, more folks than ever are not participating in the labor force. Millenials are perpetually out of work and living at home with parents. Perhaps a reformation of vocational understanding would motivate individuals to pursue employment as a means to exercise the gifts and talents given by God in His providence. Further, exercising such gifts is a duty from God to best serve your fellow man. These two motivations would change the job market in the United States.
Some have accused the Puritans over narrowing the idea of calling to only a type of paid work, but we have shown here that the Puritans viewed other legitimate stations in life as God’s vocation for that person – familial callings, in particular. Another area of the public marketplace that consumed much focus of Puritan vocational writing is government. In the “reformation of the Reformation,” John Milton’s Puritan teaching of vocation shaping legal and political theory. In fact, much of the discussion of “the character of the good ruler” drew upon the doctrine of vocation. The Puritan writers treated the calling of a magistrate, or government official, in a special category, that of “public calling.” “God granted rulers greater, more important responsibilities than he did to the wheelwrights, joiners, and masons.”
Any “good ruler” is to be an active ruler, acting decisively and timely for the good of his people. There was no room in Puritan teaching for idle or lazy rulers who did not bear the sword responsibly and justly. As in all callings, the “good ruler” should exercise his vocational calling with diligence and wisdom. Much can be learned from the Puritans for government officials in modern society. All work, even government work, is to be done as unto the Lord.
Another “public calling” in Puritan thought is that of the ministry. The Puritans had a special category for the public calling of church work, but as discussed, did not treat ministerial vocations with any more noble direction than secular callings. All vocations are godly if lawful and called by God. But, the Puritan movement was led by “divers Godly and learned,” men, particularly ministers, which stood for and desired the Reformation of the church and society in accord with the Word of God. Therefore, the Puritans had much to say about the vocation of minister.
For instance, Richard Baxter devoted a whole book to the discussion of a “Reformed Pastor.” Even more, the minister was to lead the congregation – church polity notwithstanding – in simplifying worship from that of the Church of England, holding a regulative principle of worship. The Puritan minister was to encourage and equip the laymen of the congregation to serve the congregation in the service, too.
Today, ministers would do well to heed the advice of the Puritans. To minister to the flock of God is to be under-shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastoral ministry is a call to wage war against the wolves who seek to destroy the sheep, primarily through the preaching of the Word, biblical counseling and administration of the sacraments. It is no small calling or thoughtless vocation to serve as a minister in Christ’s church.
The Puritan doctrine of vocation is a life-giving, life-affirming, life-changing doctrine. The doctrine was rescued from a minimalist understanding during the Reformation, but fully expounded by the Puritan divines. And, while being regularly focused on career, the Puritans showed that vocation is a calling by God in every station of life. The Puritans taught that God’s providence in one’s life, understood biblically, is a comfort and encouragement to pursue your vocation with joy and vigor. Further, to rest in God’s kind providence in your vocation is to trust in God’s sovereign goodness over all creation. The Puritan doctrine of vocation says, “Oh, let every Christian walk with God when he works at his calling, act in his occupation with an eye to God, act as under the eye of God.Serve God in thy calling and do it with cheerfulness, and faithfulness, and an heavenly mind.”
 Ryken, 74.
 Perkins, William. The Works of William Perkins (Sutton Cortenay Press, 1970).
 Black, J. William and Jennifer Trafton. “Called to be a Family.” Christian History & Biography 89, (2006), 37.
 Ryken, 73.
 Ryken, 75.
 Holy Bible, Ephesians.
 Ryken, 76.
 Ryken, 79-80.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 66.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 66; Massachusetts Laws of 1648.
 Wadsworth, Benjamin. The Well-Ordered Family (Cambridge, 2007), 50.
 Ryken, 76.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 43.
 Cotton, John. A Meet Help (London, 1699), 21.
 Gouge, William. Of Domestical Duties (Lulu.com, 2006).
 Ryken, 77.
 Ryken, 76.
 Downame, John. The Plea of the Poor (London, 1616), 119.
 Ryken, 77.
 Mather, Cotton. Small Offers Toward the Service of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness(Boston, 1689).
 Steele, 27.
 Steele, 27.
 Black, 37.
 Steele, 14.
 Ryken, 27.
 Ryken, 27.
 Marshall, Paul. “Work and Vocation: Some Historical Reflections.” The Reformed Journal, (Sept. 1980), 14.
 Hall, David W. and Marvin Padgett, eds. Calvin and Culture: Exploring a Worldview (The Calvin 500 Series) (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing Company, 2010), 36-37.
 Breen, T.H. The Character of the Good Ruler: Puritan Political Ideas in New England 1630-1730 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 6.
 Breen, 7.
 Breen, 7.
 Breen, 25.
 Ryken, 111-134.
 Baxter, Richard. The Reformed Pastor (London: Banner of Truth, 1974).
 Ryken, 100.
 Ryken, 101.
Packer, J.I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010), 436-451.
 Packer, 436-451.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We have all heard the question and likely asked the question, too. We typically ask the question of a child and again of the high school graduate or college freshman. The question you do not hear in our culture, though, is this – “What is your vocation?” It’s true that the modern use of the word “vocation” often means career or job. In fact, a leading scholarly book on the Puritans uses “vocation” primarily in a chapter about work. This is typically what we mean when we think or speak of vocation in the Western world.
The word vocation may not be used much in modern vocabulary, but the concept of vocation is undoubtedly at the forefront of many people’s minds. The Christian book publishing industry is replete with books answering the oft-asked question, “What is God’s will for my life?” Andy Crouch suggests the modern man’s vocation is “world changer,” or at least that is what modern man likes to read about in books. It seems modern man thinks much of vocation without having the right vocabulary or understanding of the concept. The Puritans – English “persons of principle, devoted, determined and disciplined” reformers of the 16th and 17th century – offer godly guidance in thinking about vocation, choosing vocation and living out a vocation in the spheres of the family, the marketplace, government and the church.
The Puritans used the words calling and vocation interchangeably. According to Edmund Morgan, and unlike our modern usage, the Puritans used the word calling, or vocation, in three senses, where the subject in all three senses was God, the object always man. First, God called a man to ever right action, regardless the situation. “If the Puritan felt justified in a given act, he perceived a calling or a call to do it.” Second, the God called men to salvation. “The substance of this call, or the thing the Lord calls unto, is to come unto him.” Thomas Hooker entitled one of his books The Soul’s Vocation, or Effectual Calling. Third, God called men to a personal or particular calling – a vocation – with a set of roles and tasks. This third Puritan sense of the word is the subject of examination in this post, particularly its application in the family, marketplace, government and church.
Definition of Vocation
Catholic and Medieval Definition
The development of the word vocation, or in the Latin, vocatio, reveals a maturation of the word throughout Christian history. Greeks and Roman elites held intellectual work in highest esteem. The monastic era in the Roman Catholic Church was marked by the use of vocation to refer to the monastic lifestyle. During the Middle Ages, in the midst of the sheer drudgery of physical labor without aid of technology, the Roman Catholic Church proclaimed, “Their work is their prayer.” On the eve of the Reformation, the notion of vocation or calling was restricted to members of religious orders, like priests and nuns, or those called to special ministries. The usual term “estate” was used to denote one’s occupation or station in life, whereas “calling” or vocation “had been reserved for the life of prayer and fasting to which the Lord called monks and nuns.”This is most notable in the common Roman Catholic prayer, “May God send us many Order-vocations,” as opposed to scholar-vocations, banker-vocations, or parent-vocations.
This understanding of vocation changed with the young monk-turned-reformer, Martin Luther. “He urged the Christians to leave behind the exercises of monastic life, pilgrimages, Eucharistic parades, and various acts of pious self-denial in a struggle for [righteousness],” which was already accomplished by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and imputed to the believer by faith in the Son of God. Instead, Luther understood vocation to be “first and foremost a summons to a life of faith – a call to trust in God and who and what we are by His grace – forgiven and adopted children on His love.” This calling to God as a redeemed sinner, an adopted child, meant for Luther that God’s vocation for each individual is decidedly ordinary and touches us within our space, where we already live, as opposed to a call to a life of separation and monasticism. Luther understood Paul to mean in 1 Corinthians 7:17 that God “calls us to express our faith in Him and His righteousness by loving service within the social communities to which we already belong through the responsibilities that arise from our stations and offices within them.” In applying his vision of vocation, the Protestant Reformer approvingly said, “The farmers feed us and the soldiers defend us.” Likewise, John Calvin taught that everyone received a special calling to a vocation for which he received the necessary gifts. Each person should exercise those gifts in service to God and others.
The Puritan movement is an heir to the Protestant Reformation and, consequently, to the vocational vision of the Reformers, like Luther and Calvin. As such, the Puritan doctrine of vocation was a specific application of God’s providence to the personal life of every Christian. Puritans customarily divided God’s call of the individual into a general calling and a particular calling. The general calling was the calling to be a redeemed and holy Christian in every area of life. The particular calling was God’s direction of a person into a specific station of life, particularly in the family, marketplace, government and church. The Puritans understood vocation as a certain kind of life, ordained and imposed on man by God, for the common good. Every person of every degree, state, sex, or condition without exception must have some personal and particular calling to walk in.
Like Luther and Calvin, the Puritans rejected the monastic, Roman Catholic understanding of vocation. As the Puritan Thomas Shepard wrote:
“Seeing yourself thus working in worldly employments fir him, you may easily apprehend that for that time God calls you to them and you attend upon the work of Jesus Christ in them, that you honor God as much, nay, more, by the meanest servile worldly act, than if you should have spent all that time in meditation, prayer, or any other spiritual employment, to which you had no call at that time.”
The Puritan’s viewed all of life under the authority and counsel of God, which filled all human endeavors – not only religious activities – with spiritual significance. William Perkins instructed that “the duties of love” should motivate every person to pursue specific vocations in their spheres of life so as to “become a servant to his brother.”“The Puritan concept of the Christian’s vocation neither reduces Christian devotion to the common life of natural men, nor limits Christian devotion to the special activities of ministers and evangelists.” Rather, the Puritan view of vocation weaves “spiritual motivations, a sense of the presence of the living God and a heavenly hope” into the common, ordinary life of the Christian man.
Discerning the Call
Given the importance of vocation in Puritan thought, the choice of calling was a solemn affair. The choice of calling was predominantly focused on choosing a career or job, but was not exclusively confined to this area alone. Since all of life is a vocation to God, so each choice which changed one’s station in life was a solemn moment of contemplation. The Puritans assumed that one’s calling in life was not to change without much prayer and contemplation on God’s providence, as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:20.
The Puritans preferred to trust such things in determining or changing a vocation as a person’s inward endowments and inclinations. Further, outward circumstances which may lead to one course of life rather than another should be considered I light of God’s providence. Also, the advice of parents, guardians, and in some cases magistrates and nature, education or gifts acquired point to a person’s vocation. While, again, primarily concerned with one’s occupation or work, this three-fold plan of discernment also applied to one’s vocation in the family, government and church.
Richard Steele – a nonconformist Puritan divine – offers practical, sound guidance on choosing a vocation of employment that also offers guidance on making the best choice in all of life’s vocational decisions. First, Steele advises the reader to give the decision the attention it deserves. “It’s wrong to focus on such an important matter without giving it serious thought and reason.” Second, consult with faithful, discerning people, especially those with the same calling. Next, choose a calling that is not harmful to your soul. Certain vocational pursuits may be, in and of themselves, lawful and profitable, but are sufficiently tempting as to harm the soul. Fourth, let God’s providence be acknowledged by sincerely seeking His direction and assistance. Lastly, consistent with the other considerations, one’s personal preference should also be taken into account. These considerations offer a wise framework by which to discern your vocation in all areas of life as we seek to live under the eye of God.
Having considered the history, definition and discernment of vocation, we will consider what the Puritan doctrine of vocation teaches us today specifically in the areas of family, the marketplace, government and the church in our next post.
 Clark, David K. and Robert V. Rakestraw. Readings in Christian Ethics: Issues and Applications. Vol 2. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 33.
 Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Grand Rapids: Academic Books, 1990).
 A quick Google search returned 1,160,000 results for the phrase “God’s will for my life.” An additional search of www.lifeway.com for “God’s will” returned 329 results.
 Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 187-189.
 Packer, J.I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 1990), 22.
 Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relationships in Seventeenth Century New England (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966), 69.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 70.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 70.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 70.
 Clark, 33.
 Claar, Victor V. and Robin J. Klay. Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 166.
 Holl, Karl. “The History of the Word Vocation (Beruf),” trans. Heber F. Peacock. Review & Expositor, 55 (1958), 136.
 Claar, 166.
 Claar, 166.
 Morgan, The Puritan Family, 70.
 Holl, 126.
 Hein, Steven A. “Luther on Vocatio: Ordinary Life for Ordinary Saints.” Reformation & Revival: A Quarterly Journal for Church Leadership 8, (1999), 121.
 Hein, 121.
 Hein, 126.
 Hein, 132.
 Hein, 132.
 Claar, 166.
 A discussion of Luther’s “two kingdoms” teaching is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore, I chose to not mention the matter. However, so to show my familiarity with the concept, a quality analysis of the doctrine related to vocation occurs in John S. Feinberg’s “Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation: Some Problems of Interpretation and Application.” Fides et Historia 12, (1979).
 Ryken, 15.
 Ryken, 15-16.
 Morgan, Edmund S. ed. Puritan Political Ideas 1558-1794 (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2003), 34.
 Shepard, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Shepard (Forgotten Books, 2012), 308.
 Beeke, Joel R. and Mark Jones. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 534.
 Perkins, William. A Treatise of the Vocations (Cambridge, 1605).
 Beeke, 534.
 Beeke, 534.
 I use “vocation” and “calling” interchangeably at points in this paper, which was common in Puritan thought.
 Hein, 126-134.
 Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
 Ryken, 28.
 Steele, Richard. The Religious Tradesman (Haymarket: Vision Harvest, Inc., 2005), 26.
 Steele, 26.
 Steele, 26.
 Steele, 27.
 Steele, 27.
 Steele, 28.
 Steele, 28.