We have all been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we were younger our responses probably came quicker and were more comical with answers like: Spiderman, a Cowboy, or my personal favorite… rich! But as we grow older that question brings about some hesitation and can make some people cringe.
“What do you feel called to do?”
I used to cringe when I heard that question because I wasn’t always exactly sure. I knew what I wanted it to look like… but I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B, and at times I still think I’m trying to figure it out! If you are unsure of what you feel called to do then don’t worry about it because you’re actually in good company! The Bible is full of examples of people who took a while to figure it out.
A man we all know of by the name of Moses spent 40 years taking care of sheep before God used him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. David was 30 years old before he became King. Noah was by our standards an old man when he was commanded and dedicated himself to building the ark. Abraham was too old to have children when he was called to be a father. I could go on and on! But the best example for me is the example of Jesus. Jesus was thirty years old before he was in full time ministry. He was the Son of God here on earth and knew His purpose from the beginning, but He was thirty before that “calling” took a “life altering” course.
I believe that everyone is “called” to do something. We all have a purpose, or a mission to accomplish. I feel that it is important to clear up that misconception. Many people assume that a “calling” is something for only a pastor or minister, but a “calling” is not just for pastors! I personally know many people who are called to work in the business world. Their minds just work in that way, and hopefully they use that avenue to help people and contribute to society. We all probably know someone who is called to be a mom. Think about what life would be like without them! They stay at home and sacrifice for the sake of their children. How about those “called” to the medical profession? Life would hurt, quite literally, without them!
These things shown in the right light sound a whole lot like ministry don’t they?
Once we realize that we are called to do something then we can start to ask ourselves some important questions to help us uncover that “calling” and more directly get from point A to point B.
Let’s think together.
- Where has God placed me?
What if I told you God might have you placed exactly where He wants you?
I believe the first step to discovering our calling is evaluating where we currently are. This can be a location, or even just a place in life that you are currently in. As a full-time Pastor let me assure you that many of you can “reach” people that I simply can’t. I have no respect with them or just the title of “pastor” makes them write me of immediately. Part of your “calling” might be right in front of your face!
We tend to think that the people who serve God are the ones who leave where they are to go somewhere else. But all of us can serve God. Right where we are!
Has God put you in a prime location to work out you calling? Proverbs 3:5-6 says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Who has God placed around me?
Who do you interact with on a daily basis? How do you demonstrate Christ in front of them? How do you serve them?
Galatians 5:13 says,
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
That passage clearly lays out a purpose or “calling” for all of us. Many people leave the “Serving others” part of our purpose to the pastors, missionaries, and charitable workers they know… but the Bible says everyone is called to serve God by serving others.
Only a small minority of people use their lives to serve others, but Jesus demonstrated for us that serving those around us is an integral part of every Believers calling” and purpose. John 13:12-16 says,
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
- What abilities has God given me?
Have you ever met a person who just seemed to be gifted in a certain area? We all have. I have had professors that could make subjects come alive… I have also had some that could put you to sleep in record time. I have heard incredible singers and musicians and I have heard the more musically challenged make an attempt.
Being gifted simply means that a person’s ability in that area is “special” or exceptional. It means that person has a special skill that many of us do not possess. Yet no matter how gifted an individual is in a particular area, rarely, if ever, will one individual be exceptional in every area. No matter how good a musician may be, he still has to depend on other people for something. This is no less true within the church!
God gives His people the ability, through His giftings, to excel in particular areas of ministry in order to serve others and further His kingdom.
Looking for direction regarding your calling? Ask yourself: What are my spiritual gifts? What comes naturally for me? What am I good at? What am I not good at? This seems obvious… but many of us waste our time and spin our tires relentlessly trying to force ourselves down a path that isn’t meant for us because we just don’t possess the skill or abilities necessary to head that direction. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the limitations that we have… I personally think being a jockey would be cool, but I am 6”0 and don’t know how to ride a horse, and you might want to be a Worship Pastor, but you possess no musical skill or administrative gifting. We all have different gifts for different purposes and callings.
1 Corinthians 4:31 serves as a great reminder of this where the Apostle Paul says,
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts and I will show you a still more excellent way.
Because Christ’s church is made of many individuals with different gifts, God expects us to depend on others in the areas in which we don’t excel. 1 Peter 4:10 says,
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
A good idea of where our calling is might be discovering where our gifting is. The we must remember that any gift that’s left unopened or is disregarded is useless. God gives us specific gifts as the primary avenue for Him to use us in His church to bless others. Every Christian should watch for opportunities to minister to others, to use their gifts as a blessing and an encouragement to others.
- What has God given me a passion for?
Lastly, what consumes your thoughts? What do you do in your spare time?
Sometimes we miss this obvious clue that can lead us to deeper purpose or calling. What do you have a passion for? I have often said that I can teach someone to do a job or a task, but that I can’t teach him or her passion. A little passion can make up for a lot!
Often our passions are directly related to our calling.
Another tough question that sails along in the same boat is: Would you do “your calling” for free? In fact, part of my passion is writing and discipleship and I am doing that for free with this very blog that you are reading. Unfortunately not every “calling” comes with a paycheck. Can you accept that?
I was once told that the best question to ask yourself before going into ministry is: Can you do anything else? At first that question threw me for a loop because I am young and physically able to do many other things… but then I understood. My purpose will not allow me to be fulfilled anywhere else.
What kind of other questions should we be asking regarding our purpose and calling? I’d love to hear from you.