This is not a post with 5 steps that help you find your calling. There are lots of those out there. You should Google it.
This is also not a post exposing the pitfalls of posts with 5 steps that help you find your calling. There is some good advice out there (some flaky advice too but all of that is beside the point).
I would consider this post a prequel . . . a back to the beginning, after the fact.
If you’re like me you’ve wrestled with this for a while and you’ve probably run the gamut. Any of this sound familiar?
- You responded to a powerful, convicting message to abandon it all (say it with me) for the sake of the call.
- You had a “crisis of calling” marked by begging God for a black and white copy of what to do and where to go next.
- You Googled “How to find your calling”.
- You had long conversations with older and wiser people.
- You had a moment of “Aha . . . I got it . . . THIS is what I’m called to do.”
- You shared with friends and family who didn’t get it but would never question a calling.
- (Months or years later) You questioned whether this was ever actually your calling. Maybe you “missed God” on this one.
- You started the whole process all over again.
I’ve been there. Done that. Rinsed and repeated.
In fact my ongoing relationship with this word and this concept (“calling” that is) continues to be refined and reformed with practically every conversation on the topic. The more I understand about calling, the more I understand how much more there is to understand.
Part of growing up I suppose.
So instead of proposing a step by step worksheet or offering some kind of hope for a black and white “My Calling” printout, I’d like to propose three questions that seem relevant to the ongoing, life-long process.
Question #1: Does what I believe about God match what I say about calling?
“Calling” gets tossed around flippantly — sometimes carelessly.
Remember the story of William Carey? In the 1700’s he put out the idea that it was the duty of all Christians to spread the gospel to the whole world to which the stodgy old Baptist next to him said, “Young man sit down — when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine.”
Say what you want about that guy but he knew where he stood. Here’s the kicker. Because he pushed back so did William Carey. Strong theological opposition forced him to defend and therefore be rock solid in what he believed to be true both about God and His call.
He was forced to face the question — “Is that really how God works?”
Have you ever squeezed your own calling through the same filter?
Does God call people like He called Paul? Moses? Isaiah? Jonah? Does He give black and white outlines? Does He speak to our heart? Tug on our heart? Break our heart? Give us a heart for a specific place? A specific people? A specific profession? Does He call all of us to do the same thing or each of us to do something different? Are some callings greater? Bigger? Better? More important? Does He call the qualified or qualify the called and if He qualifies the called does He do it before or after He calls them and if He does it before He calls then doesn’t He just call the qualified?
How do you feel about sovereignty and free will?
Maybe you are pretty rock solid in your theology but does it line up with the way you speak of your calling?
Question #2: Am I am using the word “calling” as a spiritual trump card?
Calling is the final word in many a heated conversation. It is one of the great Christian trump cards along with “that’s not Biblical” and “the Greek word actually means . . . ”
“I’m moving to France to start a medical clinic for children with Leukemia.”
“You don’t speak French.”
“I bought Rosetta Stone.”
“You’re not a doctor.”
“I can learn.”
“You hate children.”
“Yeah but I really feel called to this.”
“Oh . . . well . . . ok.”
It’s easy to question a person’s rationale but something feels wrong about questioning their calling. We pick up on that pretty quick when we are feeling insecure about our direction. That’s not to say that your calling is not valid but being willing to get brutally honest with ourselves opens us up to a deeper scrutiny and in turn, wiser counsel.
Question #3: Am I allowing my pursuit of what I THINK God wants me to do eclipse what I KNOW He wants me to do.
Regardless of your Christian flavor or your denominational affiliation, it is a dangerous view of God to consider that He might give you specific directions to do the opposite of what you already knew to be true.
You may be called to the inner city.
You may be called to the Middle East.
You may be called to widows and orphans.
You may be called to plant churches.
You may be called to provide education and job training for teenage girls rescued from human trafficking on the upper East side of Janakpur, Nepal.
But if you are married you KNOW that you are called to devote your life to your spouse. If you are a parent, you have clear directions on nurturing your kids.
If the thing that you think or feel that you are called to causes you to neglect what you have already covenanted to — you’re missing something.
You’ve got neighbors and enemies that need to be loved. Brothers and sisters that need to be encouraged. None of that takes an ounce of significance away from any grand and global work but specific callings have a sizzle that gets worn out on the every day stuff.
The consequences are generally broken every day stuff and a fizzled sizzle.
Don’t miss what is already there in black and white.