Thursday, December 2, 2010


A long quote by C. S. Lewis and a short quote by J. R. R. Tolkien regarding vocation:

"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain...The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public, nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain. And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside, that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric, for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ringer can ever have it." (C. S. Lewis, "The Inner Ring")

"Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere." Elrond (The Fellowship of the Ring, p. 283)

I find that I need constant reminders about what is most important in my vocation. Lewis's essay, "The Inner Ring," is both convicting and inspiring every time I read it. I still feel the temptation in me at times to pursue the inner ring, though I have made it my passion and my commitment, as far as I am able, to simply be a sound craftsman. I want to be a sound craftsman in my vocation as a minister of word and sacrament. And though the world, and perhaps even others in my vocation, may look at my craft as the work of small hands, I truly believe that it is the kind of work that helps to move the wheels of the world.

And when I think of all of that, I am humbled and I am content. Truly, the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (Ps. 16:6).

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