When you think about the work of the Holy Spirit, what comes to mind? We rightly connect his work to our faith in Jesus, our transformation, sanctification and spiritual gifting. These are prominent themes in the Scriptures. There is another dimension to his work: equipping us vocationally.
The Spirit is deeply interested in giving us the abilities, capacity, skills and understanding of our various vocations for the purpose of doing what we do with excellence that God might be magnified through us. Here are two wonderful examples of this
Oholiab and Bezalel
Oholiab and Bezalel The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: (Exodus 31:1-6 ESV)
Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.” And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. (Exodus 36:1-2 ESV)
Notice the language of this passage of Scripture. God called these men to a particular work—the work of fashioning the tabernacle for the nomadic journey of Israel to the promised land. He takes these craftsmen and readies them for the tasks ahead. He fills them with four distinct things: ability, intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship. This is incredible. The Holy Spirit is providing intellectual capacity, wisdom and practical skill. The end result of this is that they would devise and produce beautiful art, skill working with all sorts of materials and capability in many skills.
Two more times in the narrative flow we see God “putting” skill and intelligence into men to fulfill their particular vocation. He also stirred their heart to the work he called them to. God is in the business of equipping us for our vocations—this much is clear!
And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. (1 Kings 3:7-12 ESV)
The story of King Solomon reveals this same pattern. He is stepping into a new vocation, he is about to take the mantle of a King in the context of this passage. He seeks God’s help and God’s response is instructive. He gave him a “wise and discerning mind” that will be unmatched by any before or after him. God equipped him with the capacity of mind, the discerning judgment and the skillful wisdom necessary to govern his people. This teaches us that we will run up against the boundaries of our own wisdom and ability in our vocations, but God has the ability to increase those boundaries. He can provide us what we simply do not possess. He does this in the context of vocation in both of these passages.