In the Christian realm, we spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to figure out what we are "called" to do. It can be a real source of anxiety, stress or pressure either to figure out what we are meant to be doing or figuring out how we are supposed to go about doing that thing. We see other people seemingly effortlessly gliding into their ministry spots while we may feel like we are fumbling around in a dark room.
I am no stranger to all of these ideas and have spent many hours crying in frustration over the when's, the why's and the how's, trying to figure out how to possibly manipulate the Lord to get exactly what I was envisioning. I like to learn the hard way, let's face it. After many tears, struggle, humbling and anxiety, here are a few of the conclusions I have come to that the Lord has emphasized greatly in my life.
1) It's God's Idea
It's easy to forget that God made up callings, was the one who gave us our gifts, the one who knit us together in our mother's womb with our personalities and quirks and has been with us through every lesson and experience. He didn't do all that so that He can hide what we are meant to do behind his back and hold us back with his other hand on our forehead while we desperately try to take a peek, saying "guess, guess!"
On the contrary in Ephesians 2:8-10 it says
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
While He was knitting us together in there, He was also preparing these things that we were going to do in Christ. All of this originated with Him, and He is a really good creator and we can trust His plans will be way better for us and more effective through us when we do it His way.
2) Be Yourself
Maybe you feel called to make toe rings for children in Timbuktu and will create jobs or use it as a way to tell them about Jesus. Maybe you are the only one in the entire world that wants to do that, that God has set aside for that ministry, but even as specific as that is, probably not. We are the body of Christ and many of us have been gifted with similar gifts and abilities. It's easy to compare that shop, that speaker, that mother, that musician, that missionary to yourself, draw comparisons and reason there is no room left for you. Wrong.
Don't let the Enemy lie to you and get you to hold back on your contribution to the Kingdom of God because you have decided you don't measure up or it's already been done or being done. There is only one you, with your personality matched with your gifts, with your experiences, your family, and friends and the sphere of influence that you have. The only thing we have to steer clear of is trying to be a replica of someone else, rather than the one and only us.
The best way to be us fully is to spend a ton of time with God, to learn and receive our true identity from Him, and let go of all the labels we have accepted from others or slapped on ourselves along the way. We need to also stop binging on what others are doing and see where we measure up or spend time wishing or thinking about how we can be more like them. They are already them, the position has been filled, we need to be us. God is the creator of this whole beautiful universe that we live in, don't we believe He can be as creative with each of our lives, that His call for each of us is as different as our fingerprints and that is what makes it so exciting and beautiful.
We often look to people who do what we feel similarly called to and wonder how we can be more like them and do what they may have done, but we see we don't have what they have in resources, connections, people, the list may go on and on. But we don't need any of that to do what God wants us to do, God has given us everything that we need to do what He wants us to do and anything we still need He is more than capable to give us. We can ask Him, receive from Him and run in our lane, doing what we can with all we already have in our hands.
Our callings are not somewhere out there, they are right in front us, asking us to work the field we are currently in. The Lord is looking for us to be faithful where we are to see if He can trust us with the next things.
3) Choose, Learn and Let Go
As Beth Moore says often "You can not do everything to the glory of God." Pursuing our calling means we can't be chasing the approval of man. This is where being in intimate relationship with the Lord is so important. People have a million good ideas for what you should be doing for the Lord, but many times we have to choose what is most important over what is immediate.
Learn who you are; your personality, your spiritual gifts, your passions and the experiences that God has given you to serve the body of Christ. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? You may think something is awesome, important or valuable that an extroverted person would thrive in but as an introverted person, you feel drained and overexposed in. That is OK, God made you that way. We can spend so much time making ourselves into a version of ourselves that may please other well-intentioned people but feels like we're trying to shove our round peg into that ministries square hole. Are you a shepherd and love to care for people's hearts but you are forcing yourself to serve in keeping track of the money? It's not that you can't do, you might even be good at it, and you can certainly help out when the need presents itself, but if you are only filling in because you feel guilty if you don't, it may be possible you are taking the spot of a truly administratively gifted person's place because you think you're the only one who can do it. It is so important to listen to God and follow His leading, each of us an invaluable part of the body of Christ that can't function correctly without all its parts.
We are not mini-Saviors, people don't need us, they need Jesus. And as awesome as we are, the Lord has been getting His work done for centuries where we were nowhere in site and He got along just fine. If we are always so busy doing everything we will never have time to be focused on the most effective places the Lord needs us to be. We can let go of being the go-to person and allow others to step up into who they have been created to be as well.
4) Get Comfortable Waiting
Maybe not everyone has to wait, but many do. Look at Moses, Abraham, Joseph, or David. Many times God places a dream in your heart that keeps you driving forward but He has to do a great work in us before we might be ready to do a great work for Him. We can't lead people where we have never been.
In Ezekiel 3: 1 it says "And he said to me, 'Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.' and in Ezekiel 2:7-8 it says "You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. BUT YOU, son of man, LISTEN, to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people open your mouth and eat what I give to you."
When you eat something it goes into your body, your body has to process it and it get's into you before it ever comes out. Many times the Lord has to make sure something is in us before we are ever able to give it away. He has to make sure we will listen and obey Him, no matter what might come against us, because we will be opposed.
It's in the waiting the Lord teaches us character, how to fight, how to trust.
5) Don't cheat on the Lord with your calling
"Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29
We know God is for us, is our friend, and our Savior, but He is also God of all, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we should fear Him in reverence and awe. He doesn't come to make our life easy and to grant all our wishes, He comes to consume us like fire. He is a jealous God and He is not OK with us loving or living for anything other than Him. Even good things can become "god" things to us and we end up worshipping and living for what we will do for the Lord more than we live for and love Him. As much as He wants to help us be effective in His Kingdom and use our gifts, He will never allow it to be of more importance to us than Himself.
Often times we are chasing so hard after the dream, the goal, the vision we neglect our relationship with the Lord or we simply love what we're after and are looking for all our validation from it, rather than Him. We have two callings, one is what we do, but our first call is to the one we love. Him alone. He isn't just after our service, He wants our hearts.
The Lord is attracted to desperation, a heart that is so aware of its need for Him and is loyal to Him and loving Him above all else.
"Let not the wise boast in their wisdom or the strong boast in their strength or the rich boast in their riches. But let the one who boasts boast about this: That they have understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercised kindness, justice, on the earth. For in these I delight." Jeremiah 9:23-24
We can trust our hearts and our paths when they are completely and constantly in surrender to Jesus. We keep giving our plans over to Him and let Him give them back as He sees fit. Jesus and not what we are called to do is our greatest aim in life, because everything we seek we find in Him.
What lessons have you learned or what things have you struggled with while pursing or trying to figure out your calling? Add to our ongoing learning and insights in the comments!