She sat across me with glassy eyes and shoulders slumped. After listening to all the right sermons and reading all the right books she still felt discouraged as she described her inability to figure our her “calling”.
Her struggle is not isolated. I’ve had a million conversations with other young Christian men and women just like her.
What is my calling? How do I find it? How do I know??
I listened intently and empathized with her lament, and then posed the same question I ask everyone in her shoes: Would you like me to tell you your calling?
What? She looked at me, puzzled. (Surely I couldn’t be serious.)
But I was.
Would you like me to tell me your calling? I asked again.
Well, I guess so. (You could see her skepticism mounting through the increasing number of crinkles appearing on her forehead.)
And because I’m nice, I’m going to tell you what I told her. I’m going to tell you your calling, too.
Ready for it?
This is your calling:
Friend, your calling is to be the light of the world.
Your calling is to be the salt of the earth.
Your calling is to be an ambassador of hope.
Your calling is to be a minister of reconciliation.
Your calling is to walk humbly and act justly and love mercy.
Your calling is to love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Which also means you actually have to love yourself. Go figure.)
Your calling is to serve the poor, proclaim freedom to the captives, bind up the broken-hearted, give water to the thirsty and food to the hungry.
Your calling is to open your door to the stranger, care for widows and orphans, and remember those who have been forgotten.
Your calling is to be who God created you to be – in all of your strengths and giftedness, and yes, even the parts that you consider “weak” and less presentable.
I can see it now – you’re shaking your head, irritated with all of this generalist nonsense. Obviously she doesn’t understand what I’m asking, you think to yourself.
But I do. I know exactly what you’re asking and I’ve asked it, too.
I’ve wrestled. A lot. And I’ve come to a place of peace as I’ve wrestled this stuff to the ground.
Your calling is simpler than you think.
Friend, let me tell you – our calling as Christians is not complicated. It’s all spelled out in scripture. It’s perfectly clear. All of those things I’ve just listed, that are so common they almost sound cliché? Those are specific details from the Lord about our purpose here on earth.
Those statements, and others like them, sum up the calling of all those who count themselves among God’s beloved.
Not only is our calling perfectly clear through the scriptures, but Jesus came to earth so we could see with our own eyes what it looks like fleshed out in a human context, among real problems and real relationships and real life circumstances.
God doesn’t promise us that our calling will be easy, but he does offer it in simplicity: “Follow me” Jesus says, “and do as I do.”
If we understand that our calling is to be the light of the world (etc.), then we can quit feeling stressed out about choosing between majoring in mechanics or biology or marketing or business. Because here’s the bottom line: God can be light through you, engineer, as much as he can through you, doctor. God can be light through the accountant as much as he can through the pastor, the schoolteacher, the stay-at-home-mom, the postman, and the checkout clerk.
I understand the pressure to want to make good decisions with how we study, how we choose the direction of our vocation, and how we determine which jobs to pursue, opportunities to accept, and cities to live in. And yet I’m thoroughly convinced that God can use us any time, anywhere, doing anything if only we let him.
Your calling is not about you.
Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)
When we choose to give our lives as worship to Him, it ripples into everything else we do. It affects our morals, our ethics, the way we relate to customers, the way we submit to our bosses, the way we lead others, the way we parent, the way we make financial decisions, the things we give our attention to, what we consume, how we choose a church, who we befriend, and how we create.
Our calling affects everything. And yet it is—and always will be—very, very simple.
So simple, in fact, that Jesus summed it up like this: love God and love others.
Maybe instead of getting worked up about a line of study or a career path that may or may not change through the course of our adult lives, why don’t we instead focus on living out our calling well right here, right now?
Don’t be duped into thinking you’ve yet to discover your calling.
If you need a refresher, spend some time in the scriptures or spend some time journaling what you already know to be true and then determine in your heart to do all you do to the glory of God and make your life as an offering poured out to Him and to others, no matter what form or shape your tasks or work takes.
I guarantee if you do that, you can find fulfillment as you navigate education and career transitions and grapple with passions and hobbies and skills and how it all fits together in the context of your personal mission and vocation.
Release yourself from the pressure of having all the minutia figured out and give yourself the gift of truth – the kind of truth that sets you free to be your creative, exploring, growing, God-loving, ALIVE self.
Go and live your calling.
You know your calling – you do – and there are a million ways to walk it out well. How you walk it out five or ten or thirty years from now might look a little different than it does today, but it doesn’t change what you are called to do and who you are called to be:
Light. Salt. Reconciler. Ambassador. Mercy-giver. Grace-extender. Creator. Lover. Peacemaker. Truth-teller. Freedom-giver. God-worshiper. Hope-bringer.
Go my friend, and walk out your calling today with as much grace as you’re willing to access for wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing right now.
Go and live your calling.
12 Essentials for your 20’s: What every Christian young person should know.
Gwen19 May 2014 at 1:28 pm
Yes, yes and amen!
Kel19 May 2014 at 2:16 pm
Great word. I just discovered your blog a couple weeks ago from a Pinterest something-or-other. And as I take moments here and there (aka breastfeeding) to read your posts, I noticed I feel refreshed afterwards. So, thanks! Also, I wanted tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and wisdom. You have a lovely gift.
Rachel19 May 2014 at 8:20 pm
This is why you could write a booking about anything and I’d read it. I want this written on my wall…like every wall in my house. Every time I feel lost or pointless, this is what I remind myself of…it doesn’t matter where I am or who I am!
Lindsey Whitney20 May 2014 at 10:09 am
Yes! Yes! Great post!
Lindsey Whitney recently posted..Family Activities in Erie, PA
Meredith22 May 2014 at 6:57 am
In the words of Gwen…yes, yes and amen.
Meredith recently posted..Following up on complaining
Mindy23 May 2014 at 4:49 pm
Yes – such great truth here!
Lisa @bitesforbabies25 May 2014 at 6:42 pm
I wish I could write like this! What a great post-so thought provoking and well-written!
Tim19 September 2014 at 5:05 am
I’ve reached (and wrestled with) the same conclusion.
It may be simpler than most think.
But I think it’s harder than we’d like.
Tim recently posted..a day in melaka with the kids
Adriel21 September 2014 at 11:43 am
Absolutely Tim. Absolutely.