What do I mean by calling?
Perhaps I should start by eliminating what I don’t mean. Calling does not refer to a church or Christian organization position. We hear statements like, I was called to the pastorate, I was called to the mission field, or I was called to be a Sunday school teacher. These statements may be a person’s best attempt at describing God’s guiding them, but it is not helpful for the listeners. A person’s calling is not about their job, career, or position. Many of the books and seminars on calling focus on finding your ideal job. Though you can express some of your calling through a job or position, a job is not a calling and therefore this approach or description is not helpful. If a person’s calling was primarily a job or position, what happens when a company or organization denies you that position? Have you lost your calling? Is your calling in the hands of a person or H.R department? If your calling was about a job, what happens with it when you are not “on the job.” What happens to the person who is laid off? What happens to the mom who decides to stay home with her children and not work? Can the economy determine our ability to walk out our calling?
A person’s calling is something far deeper and more significant than a set of skills, abilities or education. If that was the extent of our calling then we really wouldn’t need God, we would just need opportunities which are usually created by money.
So what is a person’s calling? Simply stated, your calling is to let the world around you experience the glory of your life. Glory means the splendor, abundance, strength, beauty, or weightiness of a person or thing. So, your calling is to let people experience the weightiness of your life, to experience what is abundant in you, to experience your strength or beauty, in the place that God assigns you.
If our calling is as simple as you say why is it so difficult to figure it out?
There are several reasons why it’s hard for all of us to discover, understand, and walk in our calling. First, many of us are looking for the wrong thing, looking in the wrong direction. We are looking for “the job we can love.” Or, we are looking for an activity or position recognized by the Church as a calling.
Then there is the aspect of mystery surrounding God, our own heart and the story that we are living in. There is a depth to God and our own heart, which is beyond quick discovery. The world that we live in does not deal well with mystery. Mystery is often seen as a lack of effort to understand something or a person’s ignorance. And so we confuse mystery as either our own ignorance or the lack of involvement of God, when it is neither. We must embrace mystery.
Then there is the heart. Your calling is written on your heart in the form of your desires. Most people have lost the life of their heart and therefore lost the ability to discover their calling. This is why so many of the “calling tools” are not very helpful — personality tests, skill assessments, spiritual gift indicators. We must first get our heart back.
Then there is the opposition to us discovering and walking in our calling. We naïvely and harmfully believe that there are only two players in the pursuit of our calling: us and God. There is a third — Satan and the kingdom of darkness. Your calling has been opposed throughout your life. The ways that you have been wounded have been strategic not random — to shut down your heart and your desires so that you would not find your calling. We have an enemy who we must fight and we have a God who must heal our assaulted heart. If we are to fight to stay free and fully alive we must understand how the enemy works and how to distinguish our thoughts from his.
And then there is the aspect of growing into the person who can wield the glory (calling) of his or her life well. We have seen too many gifted followers of Christ profoundly hurt others as well as destroy their own life. We must become the person who can live at the level of our destiny. We are the only one, in the spiritual realm, that underestimates the power of our life. Satan does not — that’s why he assaults us. God does not — and that’s why He trains us.
There is a process of awakening our heart and desires, deepening our understanding and character and then fulfilling our desires and destiny. Or, put another way, discovering who we are, developing strength of heart and then re-aligning our life to who we have become.
“In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for ‘finding himself’. If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence.”