In the last month, we’ve been addressing the concept of “Calling” and considering how it relates to us as leaders of missional enterprises. In determining our calling, we might wish that God would write us a note on a yellow legal pad and float the page down from heaven. We could pick it up and read: “Hi John – Do this . . . Love, God.”
But that is not usually how we find and understand our calling. The call of God comes to us individually through several and various ways. We have a large part to play in hearing, understanding, and discovering our calling. It is a journey, and it involves walking down several exploratory paths and thinking through various considerations.
It is not that we get to choose our calling from a listing of choices. We are not simply choosing a calling that appeals to us. We are listening to God to hear and pursue the calling He has for us.
So where do we start this journey?
- Prayer. Begin to ask God to speak to you about your calling. Pray as you spend time in the Scripture, “Lord, what do you want me to begin to see and hear?” “Lord, I will be obedient, but you need to make it clear. What are you calling me to do?” Our prayers will help focus us in this search for God’s call on our life.
- Our Gifting. There is a lot of teaching about spiritual gifts. God has tied our gifting and our calling together. Our gifting from the Spirit will, to a large degree, direct our calling. God would not call a person to a particular contribution and then not give them the spiritual gifts needed to make that contribution. Your spiritual gifts will give you a strong indication of your calling. There is no one else with the exact spiritual gifting as you, and that unique gifting has been given to you to help you fulfill your calling.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:4-5)
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
- Our Temperament. What does our temperament have to do with calling? Thinking about our temperament may not seem very spiritual. But who gave you your temperament? God. And He gave it to you to fit into and support the calling He has given you. From the beginning, we were formed and chosen by God for the tasks of our calling. God made you, temperament included, to serve His purposes. There were no mistakes.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
- Past Experience and Life Events. A part of your calling, and of God’s preparation of you to fulfill your calling, will be seen in your past experiences and life events. Consider the following questions: What struggles have you faced? What successes and failures have you had? What are some of the realities of your current position and stage of life? How mature are you spiritually in your life as a Christ follower? These and dozens of more questions will contribute to your understanding of your current calling in life.
In his recent book author and founder of Denver Institute for Faith and Work Jeff Haanen asks six questions that can help a person discern their particular calling:
- What is God doing in the world today that captures your imagination? “What do you see in the world today that is good and should be encouraged, that’s broken and in need of fixing, or missing and awaiting creation?”
- Who are you? “What unique positions have you held? What knowledge and expertise do you have? What platforms have you been given? What skills do you have?”
- What stage of life are you in? Addressing those in the later stages of their work careers: “Older adulthood (retirement) is a season of letting go in order to bless and offer wisdom to a coming generation. . . . what do I need to let go of? What do I need to cling to? What are my family obligations?”
- What are your circumstances? “. . . make it a practice to look at reality—your income, your relationships, your interests and talents, your limitations and opportunities—as the only context in which you can fulfill your calling.”
- What’s the cross you’ve been called to bear? “How has suffering formed you? And what does it mean for how you will invest your retirement?”
- What are you afraid of? “. . . we must name our fears, and offer them to Christ in prayer. Allow God to say, ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you . . . ’ (Mt 28:16-20).”
As we ask questions like these, and ask God to guide us in this journey of discovery, we can be confident that he “who gives generously and without reproach” will provide the wisdom that we need.