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Aging Well: Theological Reflections on the Call and Retirement by Jack L. Stotts


Dr. Jack L. Stotts retired from Austin Theological Seminary in 1996 where he served as president and professor of Christian ethics for eleven years. He had served twenty-two years on the faculty and administration of McCormick Theological Seminary. Published by The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), January 1999, p. 25 . This information prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


III. Calls


We respond to God's calling in and though the calls that come to us. These calls are, at one level, structures of meaning, identity, attachment, contribution, and satisfaction. We create the particular structures--ecclesiastical, political, economic, familial, etc. For example, we create a political form of governing ourselves that seeks to provide for justice in how we do things and in what we do as a nation. Thus, we have a call to political rule which is in response to God's ruling of the world. Similarly, we have a structure of teaching called school or schools. These are responses to what we believe about God's intention for us as learners. Structures of the world are structures in response to God's calling. In turn these structures shape us. Our intention is to embody in all such structures those values which faith affords.

Calls to Particular Tasks

Within the structures there are calls to particular tasks or functions. There is the call to be a teacher in structures called education. There is a particular call to be a political leader and to exercise one's responsibility as a citizen in the structure called political. Participation in these calls as structures and in and though particular locations provides a sense of identity for selves, enables each to have meaning in relation to their and others' lives, and to be a location for satisfying engagements not always pleasing or delightful or fun.

In the church we respond to God's calling in and though many calls. We respond to God's calling to reunite the separated or the broken as well as the calling to provide for our families, to be a parent, to be a member of voluntary associations, to be an employee. We find ourselves immersed in now one and then the other. We have a plurality of calls, not one. God's calling is one. Our calls are multiple. They vary in time and place, in intensity and priority. They are "human constructions" and therefore subject to change. And they invite our responses.

One structure that we create in response to God's calling is the church. We seek to shape it so that it reflects as clearly as possible the religious contours of a fitting response to God's calling. Within these structures there are particular calls, locations of responsibility. And one of the calls within the church is the call to professional leadership.



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