Calling in Context: Social Location and Vocational Formation, By Susan L. Maros alt

Calling in Context

Social Location and Vocational Formation

by Susan L. Maros

Calling in Context
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Published: April 19, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0145
  • ISBN: 9781514001455

*affiliate partner

"I don't care for vocational books written in the United States; they're too American." When Susan Maros heard this comment from a Malaysian colleague, she was initially taken aback. Isn't the concept of calling universal? Why wouldn't resources with a biblical perspective on vocation apply to everyone?

The reality is that each of us encounters our questions of calling from within a particular context. In this paradigm-shifting book, Maros explores how various dimensions of social location—including race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, and gender—shape our assumptions and experiences with vocation. Maros helps Christians in the United States in particular see how ideas about calling that emphasize certainty, career paths, and personal achievement arise from cultural priorities that shouldn't go unexamined, such as individualism, productivity, and meritocracy. She explains how unexamined "mental maps" can distort our perspective and refocuses our attention on biblical insights about calling as a lifelong journey. In the process, she helps us find both clarity and encouragement to explore the paths before us.

God calls all people, yes—but calling is not a monolithic concept. Filled with numerous stories from Christians in diverse communities, Calling in Context invites anyone exploring questions of calling to find fresh possibilities in their own identity and engagement with God's mission. Reflection questions and Bible study prompts are included throughout.

"Rarely do experts on calling urge people to consider how God's action in our lives is shaped by race, gender, class, and much more. In honest, profound, and biblically informed prose, Susan Maros opens up a whole new horizon on calling, revealing its complexity and brilliantly translating complicated concepts into everyday language so that all of us can grapple with vocation in more culturally sensitive and faithful ways. An invaluable addition to literature on calling!"

Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair and Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, emerita, Vanderbilt University, and coeditor of Calling All Years Good: Christian Vocation Throughout Life's Seasons

"Before the end of the introduction you will discover why Dr. Susan Maros is one of Fuller Seminary's most respected and popular professors. By the end of the book, you will realize that almost all your assumptions about how God calls a person will be challenged. Filled with biblical reflections that will cause you to reconsider what you think you know, and stories and studies that will encourage you to rethink what you believe to be settled about the way vocation is formed, this book disturbs and deconstructs, and then provides wisdom and a way for reconstructing perhaps the most personal moments in a Christian's life. I heartily recommend it."

Tod Bolsinger, Fuller Seminary and the De Pree Center for Leadership, author of Canoeing the Mountains

"How we talk about things matters, and how we address the subject of calling and vocation matters in its proper context. This work by Susan Maros is a much-needed text to help us understand how social location informs and shapes our understanding and experience of what calling and vocation actually mean. This meaning making allows the reader to step out of their own social location and create connection to a greater community seeking to honor the God who calls in their lives and their work. This is a formational text for scholars, practitioners, pastors, and workers in the global field."

Joy E. A. Qualls, associate dean of the Division of Communication at Biola University

"In Calling in Context Susan Maros counters the popular notion of vocation as an individual's calling discovered outside of time and place with a fresh, communal understanding that is grounded in God's action in the world and discerned in the midst of personal intersections and diverse experiences. Claiming vocational discernment is contextual and lifelong, Maros seeks to deepen awareness and awakening unconscious assumptions by inviting readers into a reflective process. Well written with personal stories, rich connections to Scripture, and challenging reflection questions, this book is a great resource for Christian leaders as it recognizes the importance of social location and directly addresses the impact racial-ethnic-cultural identity, socioeconomic status, sex/gender, power, and privilege play in vocation."

Terri Martinson Elton, professor of leadership at Luther Seminary

"Creatively critical, Calling in Context fills a much-needed space in the literature on Christian vocation, engaging ways in which gender, racial and ethnic identity, economic status, and social class shape people's vocational possibilities and practices of discernment. The book challenges individualist and idealist assumptions present in dominant North American understandings of vocation, inviting readers into richer conversation and vocational practice that is more attuned to the variety of ways in which vocation is experienced globally, more faithful to the range of biblical narratives of vocation, and more attentive to God's interaction with human beings over time."

Jane Lancaster Patterson, professor emerita of New Testament at Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Texas, and director of the Communities of Calling Initiative at the Collegeville Institute

Read an Excerpt



Part I: Maps, Theoretical Frameworks, and "You Are Here"
1. "What Is My Calling?" and Other Problematic Maps
2. In Search of a Biblical Map
3. The Journey of Calling

Part II: Social Locations Considered
4. The Gift of Particularity: Racial-Ethnic-Cultural Identity and Christian Vocation
5. Socioeconomic Status, Class, and Calling
6. On Being a Godly (Wo)Man: Sex, Gender, and Vocation

Part III: Examining Intersections
7. Engaging Power
8. Practices for the Journey
9. Developing a Purposeful Life
Conclusion: Finish Well

General Index
Scripture Index


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Susan L. Maros

Susan L. Maros (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is an affiliate assistant professor of Christian leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, where she has also served as a doctoral supervisor, and an adjunct professor at the King's University, Southlake, Texas. She is a past president of the Academy of Religious Leadership.