St. Olaf CollegeLilly Program for Lives of Worth and ServiceSt. Olaf College

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About the Lilly Grant Program

Lilly Grant Program for Lives of Worth and Service
Bruce Dalgaard, Program Director
Old Main Annex 3
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057

507-646-3626 Fax

Rachel Bjorhus

"In Pursuit of Vocation"

Last spring, as I considered summer and all of its possible plans and opportunities, I felt as though I was faced with a very difficult, yet clear cut choice: spend my summer either doing what I enjoy or in gaining career experience. The two were in no way compatible. The previous summer I had worked at a Christian Bible camp: a place where I had found a genuine community, developed my gifts, and strengthened my faith. It was a place that I felt called to and a place to which I belonged. So as I meticulously researched all of the possible experience-gaining jobs and internships, I couldn't help but feel unsettled about my decision. Convinced that I could only keep pace with my peers by interning at a law firm or a governmental agency, I compartmentalized the decision as either God- motivated or success- motivated. But, in the light of the Christian tradition of vocation, they were and are not meant to be mutually exclusive. The collective experiences of the last two summers have clarified and demonstrated the somewhat nebulous, but ever-present reality of vocation.

Faced with my final decision of where to spend my summer, I overwhelmingly felt that my time at camp simply was not finished, that there was something calling me back. In the end, it proved to be the most amazing summer. I worked in an incredible community that places value on the call of God and the pursuit thereof. This community actively seeks the presence of God in the world: in the children we work with, in acts of social justice, and in each other. Reflecting on these experiences I am realizing that life is not linear and it can't always be reduced to a series of logical, systematic decisions. The fact is God's call is not always as we expect it to be. Yes, God gives us the proper faculties to make wise, well-reasoned decisions. I also think that God gives us communities to reveal vocation and to live out God's call.

I have been given very specific gifts and talents and how I respond to my surrounding circumstances in light of the Gospel is, for me, vocation. It cannot be scheduled, planned, or forcefully extracted. It is revealed in living in such a way that recognizes God as the source of all things. More than anything, I am realizing that the call of God is both communally revealed and in many ways, unexpected. As a result, I find meaning in uncertainty and more value in the pursuit. God and vocation can certainly be revealed in an office or a cubical. It was only through exploring my career somewhat unconventionally that I came to the realization that God can be, and is, found in the conventional. Undoubtedly this past summer gave me incredible insight on what it truly means to be called to a life of service and for that I am eternally grateful.