The Doctrine of Vocation

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, observed Luther, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does give us our daily bread. He does it by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, the person who prepared our meal. We might today add the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers in the food processing plant, the warehouse men, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter. Also playing their part are the bankers, futures investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, and every other player in the nation’s economic system. All of these were instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning bread.

Before you ate, you probably gave thanks to God for your food, as is fitting. He is caring for your physical needs, as with every other kind of need you have, preserving your life through His gifts. “He provides food for those who fear him” (Psalm 111:5); also to those who do not fear Him, “to all flesh” (136:25). And He does so by using other human beings. It is still God who is responsible for giving us our daily bread. Though He could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did for the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other. This is the doctrine of vocation.

– From God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life, by Dr. Gene Edward Veith.

Therefore I advise no one to enter any religious order or the priesthood, indeed, I advise everyone against it – unless he is forearmed with this knowledge and understands that the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone.

– Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520)

Vocation Resources

classic texts on vocation


veith books On vocation

Study Guide for God at Work (Microsoft Word format)
A free downloadable study guide for God at Work.

Luther on vocation, Christian living, and ethics

Blog pieces:

  • Luther on Vocation and the Christian Life, Parts 1 and 2, by Dr. Matthew Phillips

additional reading

Some Earthly Good, by J. G. Strelan.
An online book available from the website of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Magazine & Journal Issues focused on Vocation, or Article Collections
Presentations, Episodes, or Videos
  • Issues, Etc. has many episodes on vocation
  • Presentations by Dr. Gene Veith will become available on a separate page
Individual Papers, Articles, Essays, or Pieces


Vocation Bibliography, compiled by Prof. John T. Pless of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN.

A listing of books and magazine articles related to the doctrine of vocation, available for download as a Microsoft Word document.

Vocation and Evangelism, by Prof. John T. Pless.

The Mask of God Seminar – Notes
Notes from a seminar on the Doctrine of Vocation held at Ascension Lutheran Church, East Lansing, MI on November 9th, 2002. Submitted by Prof. John T. Pless.

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