For most people, the idea of embracing a calling is one we perceive everyone else but us has figured out. Seriously, from senior pastors to stay at home parents, many individuals and church leaders I coach first did the work to accept that embracing our life’s call is a lifelong journey. Very few people have the ‘burning bush moment’ of Moses and that is okay.
Don’t get me wrong, my sister has known since she was a kid that she wanted to be a doctor. My husband had a ‘parting clouds moment‘ at a middle school camp when he heard his calling to be a pastor. I never would have anticipated a vocational calling to serve the local church and coach pastors and might’ve laughed if you’d suggested I would one day be operating at the center of my calling, doing both. In my journey, the Lord has used specific scriptures, prophetic voices and previous experiences to reveal my next steps in embracing my calling. The experience has been much more like a scavenger hunt- pursuing each next step on the adventure rather than a puzzle- fitting the pieces together according to some image on a box.
When I think about the idea of calling, there are two categories we can understand scripture through; our collective calling as Christ followers and our individual calling. I find the latter is typically revealed at the nexus of our unique context, cause and creativity. The imagery from Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 gives us an awesome picture of how the collective and individual callings fit together- like a functioning body. The whole body needs its parts and each system to work together to stay alive. Pause here and read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12.
As I walk with people on the journey of embracing their individual callings, these are a few things I’ve found are worthy of reflection as you discern next steps:
Context- Where has God uniquely called you to be? How are you currently bringing the good news of the gospel to your neighborhood or community? What does it mean to be the body of Christ in your workplace? Within what family, community or business structures have you found you have influence?
Cause- What are the things keeping you up at night? How has your heart been softened to a need around you? What is a next step you can take or book you can read to learn more about this need?
Creativity- What types of things do you find energizing? Where do you sense new ideas or initiatives stirring? How are you imaging new solutions to problems you see around you? If you could do anything in the world and finances were not a factor, what would it be?
I’m not suggesting any of us has the luxury to just do these things, but our answers tell us something. What are 1-3 next steps you could take in the next thirty days? They could include committing to a conversation- send the text, schedule the call. It might be enrolling in a class at church or exploring seminary- do the google search, request the packet. Perhaps you know the next step, signing up for a volunteer role or applying for a job- don’t go to bed tonight without scheduling a next step.
As you navigate your best next right step to embracing your calling, be sure to keep the final C of community in mind. Our collective calling as Christ followers is to be an extension of Jesus‘ love and to embody His ministry, extending it to others. The body of Christ is how we experience the goodness of God and inviting those who know you well to hold up a mirror to the creative ways God is shaping your life’s calling is a tremendous gift. Ask a couple people who know you well the questions below.
Community- What do you see in my life that brings joy to my soul? Where do you see me getting energized or serving effortlessly? What areas of weakness do you see in my life?
The voices of people who know us and see us can help reflect to us the work of God in our lives.
Finally, bathe the process in prayer! Spend as much time listening to God as you do asking. Pay attention to the people, the pain, the opportunities He has brought into your path. My prayer is that as the journey to embracing your calling unfolds, you will see the Spirit use every single bit of your journey to both refine you and to invite you to participate in his redemptive work in this world.
Vineyard Christian Church, Pastor / New Ground Network, Founder