I hate the word “calling”. When I was a child I was always told to “find my calling”. Missionaries would come to the church and talk about how they had found their calling to ministry. I remember walking past two women one day and hearing one bragging about how her son had finally found his calling. I remember thinking that it must be a light bulb moment that would turn on and suddenly I would know what my calling was. So I waited…
When I graduated high school I still hadn’t figured out what my calling was so I was encouraged by my parents to pursue engineering. I liked solving problems and computers had always fascinated me so it seemed to all add up. For the next year I poured my heart into my classes and hoped that at some moment the light bulb would come on, but it didn’t.
It didn’t when I took calc 1, calc 2, or physics.
I enjoyed my classes for the most part but this thing that I was told would happen just didn’t seem to be happening. At the end of my freshmen year one of my mentors gave me the book Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. Like many well meaning identity seekers who have been offered something that might help, I gratefully accepted his gift and put it on my dresser in Charlotte to collect dust.
I poured myself into other things for the summer and ignored my pursuit for purpose. Three months later I returned to school where I was taking mostly Engineering classes. I survived another nine months in my classes but I was still frustrated that the work didn’t give me the gooey feeling that I was doing what I was meant to do.
Thankfully when I wasn’t doing anything except getting frustrated in my lackluster pursuit of “calling”, God had other plans. He didn’t let me get a job that would let me forget my future again, He took a way a relationship that I used to justify taking classes I hated because “they might help me provide for a family one day”, and He gave me a job with a boss that would dare to tell me that God’s plan didn’t hinge on me finding my calling for His kingdom to move forward.
There it is, the lie that I had always believed. I believed that if I didn’t find my calling, God’s plans would be all screwed up.
I believed that an all powerful God was counting on a 20 year old for His whole Kingdom to not fall apart. I believed that if I didn’t find my calling the universe would come to a screeching halt.
I never said these things out loud. I am not sure I even knew I thought this until the pastor at TCC got lunch with me and put a book in my hands. Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. For the second time in three years this book was in my hands and I finally sat down and read it.
As I read the words one story jumped out at me. Kevin wrote of a conversation he had with his grandfather about “calling”. He shared how his grandfather had never heard that language used and wasn’t really sure what it meant. His grandfather had lived his whole life by just doing whatever was next. He had started work because he needed money and he had chosen a city because it had affordable housing. Kevin DeYoung’s grandfather hadn’t be constantly worried about his role in the Kingdom. He merely sought to follow Jesus wherever he went.
So that brings us to where I should have started in my pursuit of purpose. I believe that everyone’s purpose can be boiled down to reflecting the image of God. It says in Genesis 1:27 that we were created in the image of God. What is my eternal purpose and calling? To reflect that image to the best of my ability. Much like a good mirror produces a two dimensional image of the three dimensional person, I was created to be a three dimensional image of a four dimensional God.
That happens when His Spirit takes hold of my life and I start to have peace in troubling and difficult situations. That happens when He empowers me to loves those who are different from me. That happens when He enables me to wait upon His timing, to learn to be patient.
And that’s all well and good, but how on earth does that help me choose a major or a job?
First, it helps me learn to not be so stressed out about my purpose. If my purpose is first and foremost found in reflecting Jesus then I am responsible for doing that wherever I go. It means that I don’t define myself by my job, major, or grades. I am free to do whatever. St. Augustine’s directive “Love God and do what you will,” becomes true, because a heart that is first and foremost focused on loving God will do nothing that is apart from His will.
Second, if God has been faithful to give me an initial purpose will He not remain faithful as I seek to find a career using the gifts that He has given me? In Psalm 139 David uses personal language to describe when he was created. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” David’s words communicate how intentional God was when He created each and everyone of us. The Father’s desire is for me to use my gifts and talents to serve Him because He gave them to me.
So how do we get started on finding this purpose? It started for me with a test: The Five Fold Ministry Test.
No, this isn’t yet another personality test. It’s a test written based on Ephesians 4:11-12 where Paul wrote, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
God created roles in the Kingdom so that we could answer the question of what is my calling? I encourage you to take this test and then study the meaning of the results. The website provides some assistance but much more can be found in other places. Helping people find their role in the Kingdom is one of my passions and if you truly want to learn more I would love to sit down and talk to you about it sometime.
Lastly, If you sit around and wonder what on earth you are supposed to do with your life I have a simple phrase of encouragement for you. Just do something. The Father can work in incredible ways to turn a boring major, a boring job, a boring whatever into a ministry opportunity. I have never seen him use my time sitting around worrying for the Kingdom. He has worked time and again when I have simply left my house. Pursue your passions. He gave them to you after all. Above all pursue the Father. Answers to all the questions I needed answered I have are found at His feet. The only thing I know I have truly been called to do is be a disciple. My prayer today is that I answer that call.