Last Updated on March 1, 2022 by OCF Communications

I have been fascinated with the topic of “calling” for more than two decades, and have often been found “interviewing” people regarding how they came to be involved in their line of work. In recent years, through mentoring relationships and personal study, I have learned that “calling” involves much more than one’s occupation. I have also learned that since God is the Caller, and “His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways,” there will always be an element of mystery in calling—and hence the need for faith in contemplating the “way ahead.”

In a similar vein, there are entire books on this topic, and institutes devoted to its study, so I do not remotely pretend to supply “all the answers” here. Nonetheless, I believe this study will help military professionals reflect on the reasons for their service. I am convinced that a better understanding of the concept of calling will have profound implications in the life of the military professional.


Americans are vigorously seeking to understand their purpose in life—that is, to answer the question, “What on earth am I here for?” Theologians are using the concept of calling (also known as vocation) to provide answers to this question. Senior military leaders have recently used the word “calling” in various venues to describe the profession of arms. The purpose of this study is to describe the concept of calling and its relevance to the military professional of the 21st century, preparing to “fight the next war”—especially to the vast majority of American officers who identify themselves as Christians.

To achieve this purpose, this 6-part study is organized as follows.

  1. Introduce the subject of “calling.”
  2. Distinguish between various terms substituted for “calling” and trace the biblical and historical foundations of the concept of calling, highlighting the impact of the Protestant Reformation.
  3. Discuss the process of discovering one’s calling.
  4. Verify that the military profession is indeed a calling—in fact, a calling unlike any other.
  5. Examine how viewing one’s military service from the standpoint of calling can have profound effects—both personal and professional—especially for commanders and supervisors.
  6. Conclude that calling is much more than “being involved in something bigger than yourself”—it is an all-encompassing perspective that can have profound, enriching effects on all facets of a military professional’s life.