The Integrated Life: Where Formation Meets Vocation
Wheaton Magazine shared a crucial data point in the winter 2018 issue: respondents to the College’s recent alumni survey said that they rated “developing spiritual maturity” as important to their experience as students. “Spiritual maturity” can mean a lot of things, of course. But surely a key component is this: How prepared are our students to go out into the world and fulfill the Greatest Commandment in their work, loving God and neighbor in all their many life vocations?
As with other areas of our students’ development, although parents, peers, pastors, and others play roles in their growth toward Christian vocation, staff and faculty are uniquely positioned for impact. In students’ whole Wheaton experience – whether working in campus jobs, interacting with office coordinators, practicing under coaches or conductors, or engaging faculty in classroom learning and hallway discussion – each one is having their imaginations and habits shaped for their future vocations. In our interactions with them, we’ll be modeling one of two things: either how to live and work in a seamless, faith-informed way . . . or how to compartmentalize faith from daily duties.
The world—and each Wheaton College student—needs to see Christians who incarnate their faith in every job and role. As staff and faculty, when we learn to see our vocations as fields filled with opportunities to love God and neighbor, and to lean into those opportunities in our daily working and living, we are already beginning to help our students grow toward an integrated life.
This integrated life is not mysterious or complex. It is just whole-life discipleship. Living this life is as simple as faithfully imagining God’s purposes for the work we do and obediently integrating our faith as we do that work. When we do these two things, we become quiet disciple-makers, influencing others, including our students, in ways even beyond our conscious intent—“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil 2:13).
The church’s historic vision of vocation has been a vision of the integrated life—but in today’s church, that vision has often been obscured as we’ve relegated the “spiritual” to church, and labeled our workaday experience as wholly “secular.”
One of the ways Opus helps College faculty and staff escape this sacred-secular divide and reclaim the integrated life for ourselves and our students is our every-semester Staff and Faculty Vocation Seminar. This short, stipended series of six 90-minute discussion-based meetings brings 10 staff and 10 faculty together each semester to consider theological, spiritual, and social-scientific insights into vocation. Along the way, we address the struggle for the integrated life as we both share vocational testimonies of our personal work and also learn more about the unique challenges faced by our students in this area, with the help of faculty and staff experts from across the College.
Past participants have testified that they enjoyed the inter-departmental and inter-office fellowship, gained insight into their own vocations, and picked up valuable tips for their formal and informal mentoring roles with students. Once again we’re both inviting faculty to apply, and seeking staff nominations through VPs and supervisors in each division. If past history is any guide, positions will fill quickly, so faculty who are interested can read more details or apply. These applications should be submitted by April 13. Staff are welcome to express their interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but final nominations happen at the VP level.