As I approach my birthday, I have begun to question my calling. A small voice inside calling me toward something unknown and risky, yet more fitting with my own truth. I couldn’t tell, however, whether the voice was trustworthy, whether this truer life that was stirring within me was real or within reach.
As Christians, we’re told constantly that we were created with a purpose. And it’s true, you were made to do good works, born to leave a legacy. The events of your life are directly related to your understanding of this. And whether you believe it or not, you’re living a story. Whether it’s worth telling is up to you.
So how do you find that purpose? If you’re like many people who are striving to live meaningful and intentional lives, it will come in the form of what many refer to as “a calling.”
We can sort things out if we accept Webster’s definition of calling: ” a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.”
That sounds simple enough. But how do you know when God is calling you, and is there any way you can be sure you’re doing the task he has assigned you?
The First Part of Your Calling
Before you can discover God’s calling for you, you must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus offers salvation to every person, and he wants to have an intimate friendship with each of his followers, but God reveals a calling only to those who accept him as their Savior.
This may put some people off, but Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)
Throughout your life, God’s calling for you will bring great challenges, distress and frustration. You can’t succeed at this task on your own. Only through the constant guidance and help of the Holy Spirit will you be able to carry out your God-appointed mission. A personal relationship with Jesus guarantees that the Holy Spirit will live within you, giving you power and direction you need.
Unless you are born again, you’ll be guessing at what your calling is. You’ll rely on your own wisdom, and you’ll be wrong.
Your Job is Not Your Calling
You may be surprised to learn that your job is not your calling, and here’s why. Most of us change jobs during the course of our life. We may even change careers. If you’re in a church-sponsored ministry, even that ministry can end. We will all retire some day. Your job is not your calling, no matter how much it may allow you to serve other people.
Your job is an instrument or tool that helps you carry out your calling. A mechanic may have tools that help him change a set of spark plugs, but if those tools break or get stolen, he gets Your job may be closely wrapped up in your calling or it may not. Sometimes all your job does is put food on the table, which gives you the freedom to go about your calling in a separate area.
Many times we use our job or career as a measure of our success. If we make a lot of money, we consider ourselves successful. But God is not concerned with money. He is concerned with how you’re doing at the task he has given you.
As you’re playing your part in advancing the kingdom of heaven, you may be financially rich or poor. You may be just getting by financially, but God will give you everything you need to accomplish your calling.
Here’s the important thing to remember: Jobs and careers come and go. Your calling, your God-appointed mission in life, stays with you until the moment you are called home to be in heaven
How Can You Be Sure of God’s Calling?
Do you open your mailbox one day and find a mysterious letter with your calling written on it? Is God’s calling spoken to you in a booming voice from heaven, telling you exactly what to do? How do you discover it? How can you be sure of it?
As I have been trying to discover by calling I have used the following method:
- Reading Your Bible,
- Talking with godly friends, pastors
- Patient listening.
God equips each of us with unique spiritual gifts to help us in our calling. He give us a list found in Romans 12:6-8 (ESV):
“6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
We won’t recognize our calling overnight; rather, God may reveal it to us gradually over the years. As we use our god-given talents and gifts to serve others, we discover certain types of works that feel right. They bring us a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness. They feel so natural and good that we know this is what we were meant to do.
Sometimes we can put God’s calling into words, or it may be as simple as saying, “I feel led to help people.”
Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
If you take that attitude, you’ll not only discover your calling, but you’ll do it passionately for the rest of your life.