Challenges to Building a Culture of Vocation Part 1 –
Our Culture of Calculation
The Curious Case of the Sadistic Poker Player of Discernment
God is not a Sadistic poker player. Yet this is the image that many young people unknowingly have of him. He holds the cards of our lives in his hands. He knows the secret to our best life and true happiness, but he won’t tell. We don’t even know if he’s holding a good hand or a bad hand. Worse yet, he might be bluffing.
Those who don’t believe that God has a purpose for their lives are not immune from him. Their Sadistic Poker Player is their desire. They imitate the desires of the people around them without knowing where they ultimately lead.[i] Without the light of truth, there’s no assurance that they’re on the right path. In this environment, choice is trepidation.
How do we pick among good things? When I go to a restaurant, I get menu anxiety. I don’t want to order the steak if the place is known for their fish. If you hand me a wine list, it’s even worse. I like to hear the words, “Good choice.”
If I have this much anxiety over these choices, how much more anxiety do I have over the cards that the Sadistic Poker Player is holding! I fear hearing “wrong choice” come from his cold, grey lips before he lays down his hand and laughs.
But Jesus doesn’t greet people in heaven with “good choice.” In the parable of the good steward, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
The Lord’s praise is for his servant’s doing and faithfulness. This is the joy of vocation when it is approached as a gift. It’s a stark contrast to the fear, anxiety, and depression rampant in young people today who are weighed down by decision fatigue and a sense that in the end, it doesn’t even matter.[ii]
The voice of Jesus sounds very different. He says to the Samaritan woman: “If you only knew the gift of God!”
Today, that gift requires a new kind of openness.
[i] Rene Girard on mimetic theory is a crucial piece in understanding the pull in a million directions of many young people today
[ii] Linkin Park, “In the End”
[iii] John 4:10