Vocation Definition

Vocation is:  Life on Purpose. For the Common Good.

At St. Olaf, vocation is who you are called to be and what you are called to do across all the parts of your life – not only in professional work, but also in your family and friendships, community engagements, relationship with the earth, search for meaning, and pursuit of justice.  It’s living your life on purpose, directed toward both your personal flourishing and the common good.  

Your vocation is something that you both discover and shape intentionally, as you nurture your gifts and talents (“excel in the liberal arts”), reflect on your core commitments (“examine faith and values”), and respond to the needs of neighbor and planet (“in an inclusive, globally engaged community”).  Because life is dynamic, so is vocation, which is why the St. Olaf mission invites you to “explore” rather than “find” it.  Because your commitments, your community, and the global context will continue to change, your vocational discernment is a lifelong journey. 

The understanding of vocation as something that is relevant to everyone, encompasses the whole of life, and is grounded in love of neighbor, is one of the distinctive contributions of  Lutheran  tradition.  But it is also embraced by people who orient very differently around religion, both those who identify with other faiths and those who identify as non-religious, and this diversity has deepened and enriched the scholarship and practice of vocational discernment both within and beyond the college. As a religiously-inclusive institution affiliated with a denomination committed to inter-religious engagement, St. Olaf affirms this inclusive approach to conceptualizing and exploring “meaningful vocation.”