Monday, 30 March 2009

Careers and vocations

A chap called Ttony, with a stutter presumably (I wouldn’t mention it, but he seems to make a point of it) left a comment a while back which set me thinking.

I have to say, that I discourage our kids from thinking about careers much. I have, too often, seen kids pursuing either their parents’ ambitions for them (to be a doctor, typically!) or an amibtion they settled on early in life - and it going wrong.

But I am more than happy to get the girls to recognise that their vocation is highly likely to include being a wife and mother, or possibly a religious sister: something the schools don’t seem interested in discussing...

Indeed, Ant has taken to winding the careers people up by talking in such terms. I can't think where she gets it from!


Anonymous said...

Yes but they can be surgeons too or better Missionary doctors as our eldest aspires to..

Ben Trovato said...

Absolutely - and if these are vocations, discerned and responded to, rather than careers chosen at a parent's or schoolteacher's behest, than they are truly graced.

And that's not to say I'm against choosing a career, either, even if one is not yet clear what one's vocation is.

But I do think there is a tendency to treat education as job-training (which I see as heretical) and to encourage kids to aspire to careers which fulfill others' (frequently secular and material) aspirations for them. And in particular for girls, these often conspire against their eventual vocation as mother...

Mike in CT said...

If I could add my contradictory two cents...

As someone who grew up not knowing what I wanted to do, and not getting too much pressure to decide either way, I wish that I would have gotten an education in a practical field. (That doesn't minimize the degree I do have-- BA in philosophy from when I was studying to be a priest-- it is personally priceless and has helped in my current vocation in ways that I couldn't possibly describe.) But with my degree and $1.50 I can get a cup of coffee and have great struggles in providing for my family. No real regrets, but my two cents worth of 20/20 hindsight.

Ben Trovato said...


Thanks for your contrary view. One thing I'd hate is for people not to think when they read my ravings!

The Guild Master said...

I would say don't get me started on this topic, but it's too have!

My own career (or lack of) has been the result of not aiming at a particular vocation. There have been a number of points in my life (I can think of 3 major ones) where, if I had had a bit more focus, commitment and encouragement (the last being the key), and a bit less sloth, I would have followed a specific career and could now look back from middle age with a sense of satisfaction at abilities put to good use. Well, I didn't, so I can't, and there is an abiding sense of waste. Spilt milk, crying, no use. However, spilt milk, learn from it, very useful.

Although following a materialist path to fame and fortune is, ultimately, an empty pursuit, neither should we eschew planning a career. We are all required to work to keep ourselves - it's one of the results of the Fall - and should remember the dignity of labour. Our Lord had a career planned for Him by His foster-father and was referred to in the Gospels as the son of a carpenter - a title he never distanced Himself from.

A career should not dominate our lives to the exclusion of other commitments, spiritual or temporal, but it has an importance and will, to a greater degree, determine how we have to live out our lives as Catholics. It deserves to be done properly and well, and I speak ruefully as one who has failed on that account.

Labore est orare.

Ben Trovato said...


I know what you mean, and would not disagree. But I still think that pushing kids into deciding on careers pre-university may be too early for many of them - and may lead them to see higher education as job training, which for most is a great mistake.

Towards the end of university, or once they have found an initial job to get them started in the world of work, is soon enough for many.

There are of course many exceptions: and we would have no architects, doctors, dentists and so on if some children did not commit to these at a relatively young age. But that does not mean, I think, that all children should be expected to know at 14, 16, or 18 how they will spend the rest of their lives.