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Homeschooling as a Vocation: An Interview with Gene Edward Veith

July 21–25, 2014   |   Vol. 120, Programs 21–25
Originally Aired: December 8–12, 2008 | Vol. 86, Programs 21–25

What should give substance and purpose to our lives? This week on Home School Heartbeat, Dr. Gene Edward Veith deciphers our calling to live out our vocations—not just through our professions, but through serving and loving our neighbors.

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Today on Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Smith and his special guest discuss the classic Christian doctrine of vocation—and why its revival today could make a difference in the way you live your life.

Mike Smith: My guest this week is Christian author, speaker, and cultural commentator, Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Veith!

Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Glad to be with you again!

Mike: This week, we’re discussing the broad concept of vocation, especially as it relates to the parents listening. Dr. Veith, would you explain what the doctrine of vocation is, and why it’s so important?

Dr. Veith: The word vocation simply means “calling,” and it has to do with the idea that God calls people into different relationships for different purposes, as how He governs the world.

Basically, the doctrine of vocation is about how God works through people. Romans 13 teaches how God protects us through the lawful governments and through, you know, our military, our police and firemen, and everyone who works that way—God protecting us through them. And He creates life—which is the most amazing miracle of all—through the vocation of mothers and fathers in the calling of the family.

Mike: Well, thank you for bringing us this timely message, Dr. Veith! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: On our last program, you explained what the doctrine of vocation is. Where does this play out? Tell our listeners about the different kinds of vocations they might be called to.

Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Well, the old preachers on this talked about the multiple vocations that all Christians have. And basically, in all of the institutions God has ordained, He’ll call us to that. We have callings in the church, in the things that we do for our congregations. We have a calling in the workplace, which is the normal way we think of vocation, but it’s so much broader than that.

But one of the most important vocations are the vocations we have in the family. And even in the family, we have multiple vocations. An individual woman may have the vocation of being a wife to her husband—because marriage is a calling from God. She may also be a mother to her children, and being a parent is a calling from God. And she still has a vocation of being a child. Being a child is a vocation of God, and even an adult, as long as our parents are living, we still have that special relationship to our parents. And that, too, is part of the vocations that God gives us, which are arenas for us to live out our faith.

Mike: Thank you for illuminating this concept for us, Dr. Veith. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Dr. Veith, you explained this week how vocation applies to many areas of life. What is the purpose of vocation, though?

Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Well, the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve our neighbor, especially the neighbor that God gives us as we live out our different callings. Now, we serve God, in the way that God commands us to in Scripture, by, again, loving and serving our neighbor.

So, in the church, everyone in their different callings, whether you’re a pastor, or in a choir, or an elder, or whatever, we’re to love and serve our neighbors—love and serve the other members of our church.

In the state, we’re supposed to love and serve our fellow citizens in the policies we advocate and in the way we live out our citizenship. In the workplace, we are to love and serve our customers and the people that we deal with in our jobs.

And in the family, it’s a place for fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, children, parents, to love and serve each other.

Mike: Dr. Veith, that is great encouragement to be faithful in all the vocations to which we’re called. Thank you for exercising your vocation by sharing this message with us today! Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Dr. Veith, let’s talk about a few specific vocations that probably apply to our listeners. Can you explain how marriage is a vocation?

Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Well, marriage is the only vocation where we only have one neighbor that we’re to love and serve! For a husband, in marriage, his calling is to love and serve his wife. And her calling in marriage is to love and serve her husband.

And Scripture talks about this in so many ways! In Ephesians 5, it talks about, for one thing, how Christ is present in marriage. And, again, in all vocations, God is active in all of these callings. In Ephesians 5, wives are told to love their husbands, to serve their husbands, as the Church does to Christ. That’s how they’re loving and serving their husbands.

Husbands are told to love and serve their wives by, as it says in Ephesians, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”

So in that pattern, in the different ways, in the different roles, it’s a pattern of loving and serving the person you’re married to. And, in a way, that sums up everything about marriage. And also Christ is in marriage, as another vocation, and the more we live out our calling, I think, the more we’ll see that Christ is at work in marriage.

Mike: Thank you, Dr. Veith—that concept of mutual love and service could really make a difference in how husbands and wives fulfill their callings within marriage. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Dr. Veith, to wrap up this week’s discussion on vocation, let’s focus on one especially important to us at HSLDA—the vocation of parenthood.

Dr. Gene Edward Veith: Well, parenthood is something that God uses to create new life—not just new lives, but new immortal souls for heaven! And so I think parenthood is the most amazing vocation where God is active at work. God gives new life—He does it through the parents. He cares for children, brings them into a knowledge of Him, prepares them, calls them to vocations—all through the working of ordinary mothers and fathers.

And since the purpose of vocation is to love and serve your neighbor, in a way, that’s exactly what parenting involves. We love and serve our kids by providing for them, by disciplining them, by bringing them up in the knowledge of the Lord, and by educating them and helping them to find their own callings, where God will work through them in the new generation that He brings to pass.

Mike: Dr. Veith, this has been a fascinating and encouraging topic! I know all our listeners will be blessed by your insights. Thank you for joining us again this week. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Dr. Gene Edward Veith

Prolific author, cultural commentator, and longtime educator Dr. Gene Edward Veith is the provost of Patrick Henry College. Formerly the cultural editor of World magazine, Dr. Veith is well known in Christian, conservative, and homeschooling circles through his writing and speaking on various aspects of Christianity and the culture.

Dr. Veith has been a columnist for World since 1996, accepting a full-time position with the magazine in 2004. The bulk of his career, however, has been invested in Christian higher education. He has served more than 20 years in Christian academia as a professor of English and, for eight years, as dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Concordia University-Wisconsin.

In addition to his frequent columns for World, which explore the shifting intersection of faith and culture, Dr. Veith has published some 17 books in both scholarly and popular genres, several of which have been translated into foreign languages. His writings number more than 100 scholarly articles, reviews, and papers, including God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of LifeChristianity and Literature: The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeReading between the Lines: A Christian Guide to LiteratureLoving God with All Your Mind: Thinking as a Christian in the Postmodern World; and Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture.

Dr. Veith is also on the board of directors of Concordia Publishing Company, is a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, and serves on the executive council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He and his wife, Jackquelyn, have three grown children, Paul, Joanna, and Mary.

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