Many modern people consider themselves to be on a spiritual journey. Three of the foundational questions of that spiritual journey are:
- Who am I? (Identity)
- Why am I here? (Purpose)
- Where am I going? (Eternity)
Understanding our calling is key to answering all three of these questions.
In this series of M3 Weekly articles, we are focusing on the idea of our calling as Christians and specifically as leaders of missional enterprises. Last week, we focused on the primary calling that is universal to all Christians – the call to be a Jesus follower.
This week, we focus on our “secondary calling” – the specifics of our role in the Kingdom of God.
When thinking about our secondary calling, most often we are inclined to be thinking about the “doing” side of our calling. What specifically does God want me to do? What is God calling me to be engaged in? What role is God calling me to play?
Most of us are more likely to be asking short-term questions about our “doing” rather than asking longer-term, more foundational questions about our “being.” We need to think about our “being” before we think about our “doing.”
Why are questions about our being (“Who am I?”) more important and more foundational than questions about our doing (“What should I do?”)? It is because, as we begin to understand who we are, we can begin to understand and make decisions about what we should and will do. Who I am will determine what I do, not the other way around. Being is foundational to doing.
In the July 2016, issue of Christianity Today, Amy Simpson writes:
“The most important thing to understand about your calling is that who you are is always far more important than what you do. And what you do will never fulfill your calling by itself . . . Your purpose is not specific to your professional work or any of the other roles you play. You were created with intentionality that transcends your circumstances. You were not put here simply to do anything—you were put here to be you. And you are a specialist at doing just that. In fact, you’re the only one with the necessary qualifications. While you may be called to different roles or relationships at various points in your life, ultimately your calling is not something to do. It is someone to be. It is rooted in the person you are at your core.”
For example, we make a mistake if we tie our calling to having or getting the perfect, ideal job. It is very possible to have a crummy job and yet to believe that for the moment that crummy job is where God is calling you to be. It is equally possible to be in a great job and to leave that job sensing that for whatever reason God is leading you to a different place, a different contribution. It is not the job that gives you the sense of God’s calling; it is not the title on your business card that determines your calling. It is being and doing what you sense God calling you to be and do.
The title on your business card may dictate the place and to some degree the type of contribution you can make, but it is the person that you are, the person that you are becoming, and your answers to your “being questions,” that will determine your life as a called person. Being is always foundational to doing.
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Acts 13:47 (ESV)
This passage is one of several times that the apostle Paul references this verse from the book of Isaiah to describe what God called him to be, and how that flowed into what God called him to do. Let’s ask God to give increasing clarity to each of us this week regarding who he has called us to be.