Again, the confessional documents come quickly to our aid in this endeavor. The human being, who is constituted by being addressed by God in His Word--both in His Law and in His Gospel--, is subject, first and foremost and universally, to God's directive, "You shall have no other gods before Me," meaning: "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." All else, all other human action, must, at least paradigmatically, flow from obedience to the First Commandment. Thus, for example, Commandment Four means that "we should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them." The human being addressed by God in His Word is also socially located, and that social location does not remove God's address to him. Rather, because he stands under God's universal address in the First Commandment, within his social location, his "station in life," his action within that realm flows from his first being addressed by the God who is to be feared, loved, and trusted above all things. In other words, no matter in what situation the Christian finds himself, he remains as he has always been: addressed by God, "called" by God. His vocation is therefore first and foremost to act in the way that a creature addressed by God is to act, by keeping the Ten Commandments. Note that there is no prescription for a certain career-path, no age-limit top or bottom, no boundary set but that set down by the fact of one's calling, one's being addressed by God.
Second, it is specifically under the Gospel that the God who presents Himself in the First Commandment demonstrates Himself to be worthy of the fear, love, and trust He demands. Put differently, Christ in His cross reveals the merciful heart of His Father. 1 Corinthians 2.16: "'Who has known the mind of God to take counsel with Him?' We have His mind--Christ." This self-disclosure of God the Father's heart in the cross of Christ evokes, calls forth, the confession that "God has made me and all creatures; He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, etc." The cross of Christ--that element of Pauline kerygma that the saint gleefully exclaims he had determined to know nothing other than among his hearers--becomes the flash-point, the locus of revelation, through which and in which the gracious will of God the Father is made known and through which and in which the Christian is able to confess, "God has made me and all creatures, etc." The Christian ethical entailment of this is simply a repeat of the chorus in the Ten Commandments. "We should fear and love God so that we don't..., but do...." ~ "For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him." Again, no specified career path, no age limit. The Christian's vocation is determined by his being addressed by God, first in the Law and then in the Gospel.
The creedal explanation, however, "thank and praise, serve and obey," not only recalls the obligation laid upon me as a creature addressed by God and expressed in the Ten Commandments, but also reflects back to those gifts of God given to me under the First Article of the Creed. My thanks and praise, my service and obedience, to God, are carried out through the profitable use, the exercise, and the development of His gifts attached to me as addressed and confessing subject. This is how Luther puts it in the Explanation of the First Article in the Large Catechism, §19, 23:
Now, all that we have, and whatever else is in heaven and upon the earth, is daily given, preserved, and kept for us by God. Therefore, it is clearly suggested and concluded that it is our duty to love, praise, and thank Him for these things without ceasing [1 Thess. 5.17–18]. In short, we should serve Him with all these things, as He demands and has taught in the Ten Commandments.... In this way the heart would be warmed and kindled to be thankful, and to use all such good things to honor and praise God. [ed. Paul T. McCain, et al., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2nd ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006), pp. 400–401; bold print added]
Lutheran higher education thus falls (a) under the First Article of the Creed; and (b) within the realm of Christian vocation, not [Christian] vocationalism, and is that intellectual and social space wherein the gift of the reason is, in a special and focused way, profitably used, exercised, and developed. As such, confessional Lutheran higher education seeks to use tools uniquely adapted to the development of the mind to ends that honor and praise God, above all to aid the recipients of such an education to use their reason faithfully to confess the God of the Creed. In precisely this service, the Wittenberg Reformers enlisted the "human arts," the arts that are at the center of being a human being endowed with reason, the "liberal arts," and the best of the human arts that had come down through the Western tradition. This was undertaken without regard for one's station in life--undertaken without a sense of vocationalism, but in the pursuit of vocation, lutheranly understood. Even more specifically, it was undertaken in pursuit of the godly and profitable use, exercise, and development of that uniquely human quality and good, the reason.