Keith Shields, one of my north-of-the-border Canadian friends, has been working with Logan Leadership as a coach mentor since 2010. Lately he’s been doing some thinking about vocation and the interruptions of life, informed by his reading of Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Henri Nouwen.

Below is my shorthand version of those thoughts, but if you’d like to read Keith’s original blog entry on this topic, which goes into more depth, check out Keith’s blog.

Martin Luther spoke to the idea of our vocation– whether shoemaker or ruler– as being the way in which God has called us to serve others. Every person has a place, either of their own choosing or by virtue of having that role thrust upon them, and we seek to fulfill that role to the best of our abilities. In this way we praise God with our vocation.

Yet as we go about the business of our vocation, we find we are regularly interrupted with other concerns. Dietrich Bonheoffer framed those interruptions as part of our ministry as well: we must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. Sometimes those concerns and interruptions are precisely what God wants us to be focusing on right now– they can be his way of getting our attention. Sometimes those interruptions, like when someone asks you to help them move or paint their house, bring some of the greatest opportunities to praise God with our time.

Finally, Henri J. Nouwen brings the two concepts together in this brief statement: “My whole life I’ve been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”