How rest can save the conversation on vocation from itself

If your college is anything like mine, conversations on “vocation” or “calling” have become integral to campus life. Many of us have become more intentional about helping students prepare for a life of discernment when it comes to making meaning or finding significance, making an impact, and making a living.

I’ve invested quite a bit in those conversations, both on campus and off. Here at Wheaton, I’ve written a semester-long curriculum of vocational exploration and discernment for our Wheaton in Chicago program and participated in the activities of Opus: The Art of Work (our institute for faith and vocation), serving as a Faculty Fellow and a Vocation Scholar in the institute’s Theology of Vocation Project. Away from Wheaton, I’ve been privileged to participate in the Project on Vocation & the Common Good, run out of the Charlottesville-based think tank New City Commons.

These projects on vocation have been some of the most rewarding opportunities of my past few years. That said, I have noticed some dysfunctions or perversions that, while not universal, are at least pervasive in our conversations on vocation. Specifically, much of the conversation on vocation struggles to deal adequately with

  • Careerism and consumerism
  • Choice and anxiety
  • Privilege and inequality

In this paper, “Called to Rest,” I argue that rightly understanding rest can not only help us  deal with the fragmentation of our time and attention, but may also help to save the conversation on vocation from itself.