Christians often ask themselves and their pastors what steps they need to take to find their calling. They feel a bit lost in life, maybe stuck in a job they don’t like, trying to figure out their major in college, or just have a general feeling of restlessness. So I’m here to give you the formula for finding your calling:
In fact, the idea of that every person has a specific, concrete “calling” is a bit of a myth we have generated in Christian circles. It’s a subtle myth because some people are given specific callings and we are all given a general calling, but through these two things we assume that there is a specific crystal ball calling out there for each of us.
We each want a calling communicated to us like it was to Moses. “God, show up to me in a burning bush, or a Star Wars hologram, and speak to me with an awe-inspiring booming voice, tell me what to do, and I’ll do it. And until you do I’m going to sit here twiddling my thumbs.”
Of the millions of Israelites who left Egypt as free people, how many of them got a calling like this communicated to them? One. One in a few million.
The other Old Testament examples of callings such as this one belong to Abraham, the prophets (most notably Isaiah), or King David. In each of these settings, there were millions of others who received no such specific call or mystic appearance from God.
We see this ratio repeated in the New Testament as only John the Baptist and Paul get such dramatic and clear presentations of their initial calling, and a handful of others, like Peter, get this kind of specific verbal direction given to them.
My point is, if one in a few million received this type of calling in the Bible, we need to stop acting like each of us is entitled to the same type of clear and specific calling from God. We need to debunk the myth that if we don’t feel a concrete calling from God, we have somehow missed the mark or God has forgotten to tell it to us.
What the Bible is very clear about is the calling that each individual follower of Jesus has. What are we looking for in a calling? We are looking for God to specifically tell us what to do. Well, he does. Very specifically: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
Some of you are rolling your eyes.
Realize that this is what Jesus wants you to do, and you can do it in any situation in front of you. Realize there isn’t always a right and wrong answer to what your job title should be; the right or wrong answer is if you are being a light in the darkness or not (Matthew 5:13-16). And you can do that at your current job, at your future job, or if you have no job.
For some, this will be all the Scriptural and Holy Spirit-driven direction for calling given. And guess what? You will be accountable to that.
For others, God does put a specific burden on your heart. In these instances, I think the question of calling needs to be much less mystical and much more practical. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What would I do for free?
- What am I already doing that is not my occupation and no one is paying me for it?
- What issues or concerns keep me up at night?
A paraphrased quote from Gary Haugen‘s books Good News About Injustice and Just Courage is that the Church is God’s plan to alleviate evil and suffering from the world. If there is a burden on your heart, you are God’s plan to be a part of the solution for that issue.
Pretty intense stuff.
When I was considering if I should plant a church or not, my friend and fellow church planter Norm Byers gave me this advice: If you can possibly do anything else and be satisfied, do it. There are many days I wouldn’t wish church planting on my worst enemies, but I know it’s the only thing for me.
Stop waiting for the burning bush. See what’s already burning inside of you and GO DO IT.
And if you can’t pinpoint what that is, look at who and what is right in front of you this day, love them the way God loves you, and shine God’s light into their darkness. In doing so, you have just discovered and fulfilled your calling.