4 steps to clarify your calling
The word “calling” spooks us. We imagine some sort of mystical, magical poof that leaves us with an intricate path for our future. But when it doesn’t pan out this way, we feel directionless.
I do believe that God sometimes clearly calls us in extraordinary ways. He told Paul to go to Damascus and find Ananias. That’s pretty clear. He told Noah to build a boat, and even included the dimensions. He called David to be a king. He was very clear in calling me to serve as a trustee for Blackbox International. He does this sometimes.
But sometimes we feel uncertain. We feel like God is OK with either direction we choose. I’ve experienced this too. After two months of wrestling with the only job change I’ve ever considered (in the past sixteen years), it came down to the final minutes. Countless prayers, questions and listening produced nothing but uncertainty. Beth and I had no idea what our decision would be. The phone rang; I declined.
In all of this, I’ve realized a mistake I’ve made about my understanding of God’s calling in our lives. I’ve forgotten how many obvious things God has called me to be and do – important, specific things.
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people'” (Mark 1:16-17, NIV).
Jesus called the scraggly fishermen to follow Him. You and I have received that same foundational calling. We’ll either follow Jesus, or we won’t. If we choose to follow Jesus, we’ll gladly obey His call to be fishers of men. The call of Jesus to care about people and make disciples, echoes through the Gospels. Jesus’ last words would command us, once more, to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). God calls us to follow Him and help others do the same.
I want to share a simple exercise that’s helping me get specific with the callings in my life. I’ll share an example, from my own journal, under each step.
Step 1: List obvious areas in your life in which God has called you to be (friend, child, spouse, parent, co-worker, student).
Step 2: Now get a little more specific.
A dad to Cole, Levi, Shurabe and Hope
Step 3: Now write how, through this specific calling, you can obey Jesus’ call to follow Him and help others do the same.
I will model the love of Christ to my children, so that it will be easy for them to relate to a loving Heavenly Father. I will help them love the Lord, his Word and care for all people. We will intentionally meet, love and pray for friends who don’t know the Lord.
Step 4: Now get a little more specific.
Friday night is Family Fun Night. I’ll maintain a healthy work/family schedule, talking about it weekly with Beth. We’ll read the Bible together every morning. We’ll pray to be an encouragement to others before ball games and dance recitals. They’ll see me striving to love Beth as Christ loved the church.
The examples I listed above won’t win any creativity awards, but they matter. They help me get specific with my calling to be a dad. Step 4 provides both clarity and traction. I need specifics. You do too.
I worked through the same steps several times, wearing a different hat each time (husband, church leader, friend etc.,) Once you do the same, Step 5 may be to share with someone who can hold you accountable.
As we pray and look for guidance from God, He’ll confirm our calling. He’ll fill you with ideas. He’ll renew your spirit. He will clearly, maybe even dramatically, call you to new things. He will also continue to ask you to be faithful to the callings already in your life. Don’t be stressed because you haven’t figured out every future step. Be obedient. And take heart, He’s called you because He loves you.