Posted by Mark Beckwith on December 18, 2010
"Be all you can be" was a recruiting ploy of the US Army several years back. The phrase has stuck with me, partly because I thought it to be a shameless -- and inaccurate marketing tool, but because it was good theology that had been placed in the wrong context. Be all you can be. It could regarded as a paraphrase of Paul's last verses in the third chapter of Ephesians: "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20). It is an invitation to partner with a power that is available to us -- but which we will never fully understand. Be all that you can be -- BUT not on your own. My favorite definition of vocation comes from Gail Godwin's novel Evensong. It is about two Episcopal priests who are married to each other. The husband says to his wife, "something is your vocation if it keeps making more of you." To make more of us is God's desire. And the more that God wants to make of us is not the more of the culture -- more stuff, more recognition, more influence, more status. No, the more of vocation is to have a discipline that draws on the mysterious but abiding power of God -- which has an abundance that is more than we can ask or imagine. A power that reveals God's glory, and which can work for God's purpose in the world.