What is my calling and how do I know it?
In joining in with God’s mission, every disciple has a calling from God, and there are no callings that are more or less important than others.
In the Bible God calls His people, gives us a “vocation”, a purpose in life.
Our greatest vocation is to be a disciple – and this is marked at our baptism.
There are lots of examples of people in the Bible who are called by God: judges and prophets, like Samuel, Isaiah and Jeremiah, called to speak God’s message to the people of Israel; the Virgin Mary, called to be the mother of Jesus; the disciples, such as the fishermen, called to leave their nets and follow Jesus; and many more.
For all of them there was an awareness that God was asking them to do something, followed by an act of obedience, even if they were reluctant and thought they were not good enough.
For all of them, their willingness to say ‘Yes’ to God was matched by God’s willingness and desire to equip them for the task.
Paul makes it clear in his picture of the church as a body that every part is needed, and in fact “God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24)
To think that those who have callings within the church sphere have a “vocation”, while those who have a calling to God’s mission in a hospital do not creates a destructive split in our individual lives, but also in the church.
The truth is that most of God’s mission occurs as disciples serve their callings outside of the gathered church community.
The second person in the Bible to be anointed by God’s Spirit for a task is not a priest or preacher, but a craftsperson named Bezalel, whom God chose “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:4-5).
Church-based callings are one aspect of our vocation. We are called by God in many different ways.
Christians have spoken about having callings in three ways.
In our relationships – as a child, parent, spouse, friend, sibling.
In our ministry – serving the church.
In our social callings – how we impact and serve wider society.
Discovering our own particular calling can need prayer and advice from others but Frederich Buechner’s definition makes “vocation” into something which can bring joy and resonate with the way we have been made and gifted. He writes,
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet.”
In other words, if I ask myself, “What makes me happy?” and, “Which needs do I care about in the world?” the answers to those two questions will point to our God-given calling.
Samuel’s story illustrates this sense of calling.
“I used to run a marketing and communications business. I was in Paris with the marketing team, in a building that was all brushed aluminium and steel. It felt good. The Managing Director of the company asked me to do a campaign for a product that was prohibitively expensive and might actually be bad for you. That was quite a moment. I’d thought a lot about running a business, but here I was faced with a dilemma. I said ‘yes’, and what was interesting was working to redeem the product.
Marketing can be hard-nosed, cut-throat and manipulative, but I’m not interested in that. I’m not sure that there was a right or wrong answer in that situation, but it’s about how your values impact the world through your faith.
What brings me alive now, is seeing people step into their fullness, that there is an opportunity within the ordinariness of life to step into something holy. There’s something extraordinary about bringing in a new hiring policy that levels up employment for people from the edges of society, as much as for those who went to Oxbridge. I’m passionate about that.”
See this five minute video from LiCC about how our "ordinary lives" are the place of our callings.