When someone has the conviction and passion to carry out a professional activity, it is said that they have a vocation. On the other hand, the idea of service in a general sense refers to the action of serving, that is, maintaining an attitude of empathy towards others. Consequently, the concept of vocation of service refers to the professional inclination aimed at satisfying the needs of others.
It is a concept applicable to any activity or trade. Thus, a doctor, a receptionist, a hairdresser or a public official may consider that their professional work is guided by the vocation of service. This implies that their motivation is based on the satisfaction of their clients, on serving them kindly and honestly and, ultimately, on the exercise of their profession with professional and, at the same time, ethical criteria.
The concept of a vocation to serve is not always related to paid work, but to those activities that are carried out altruistically and with a spirit of solidarity. Volunteers who collaborate with NGOs do so without receiving an economic reward in return and their main motivation is their own personal satisfaction and feeling useful for others. In other words, their time and energies are directed to a noble cause that is directly related to the concept of a vocation for service.
The vocation of service as an ethical approach
A professional has to fulfill some work obligations as efficiently as possible and in return receives a salary. Starting from this general premise, there can be roughly two possible approaches:
1) the professional tries to fulfill his responsibility because it is established in the contract and because, otherwise, it would have negative consequences (for example, he would be fired) and
2) the professional tries to comply because he considers it to be his moral obligation. In the latter case, his motivation goes beyond the salary he receives or some contractual clauses.
The ethical approach in the vocation of service consists in acting not because someone imposes it from outside (for example, a boss who gives an order) but because one has the moral conviction that forces him to act in a certain way.
In the Christian world some people affirm that their religious vocation arose from the call of God. In this way, whoever receives the message or the signal from God feels that his life should be oriented in one direction: love for others, inspired by love for God. This religious motivation is also based on a vocation of service.
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