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Getting Clear About Calling

Do you struggle with your work - your calling? Joanna Meyer clarifies just how God calls … and uses us.

Getting Clear About Calling

By Joanna Meyer

I’ll never forget the day an old college friend proposed to me on Facebook. John and I knew each other during our days at the University of Colorado, but I hadn’t seen him in twenty years. I couldn’t understand why was he suddenly liking pictures and commenting on my posts. Until his message arrived, describing the history of our “relationship” and suggesting God was calling him to marry me. Romantic, no?

Have you ever observed the ways people talk about calling in daily life? Maybe you’ve heard someone say they feel “called” to a specific line of work. In church circles, I’ve heard people say they don’t feel “called” to work in the nursery, which left me wondering if God actually spoke to them about helping out or if they just didn’t want to spend time with preschoolers. It gets even more confusing when we mix in questions related to women’s roles and career goals. Depending on your age or church background, you may have been taught that marriage and motherhood are a woman’s “highest calling.” Or, you may be steadily building a career, but have never sensed a clear impression that your current work is what God wants you to do. Does that mean you’ve missed your calling?

Hot take: I think we make “calling” more complicated than it needs to be.

When we allow misconceptions about calling to complicate our understanding of this powerful term, it deprives us of the freedom and peace God designs it to bring. Three principles have transformed my understanding of calling, helping me respond to Facebook proposals and other important decisions in life.

Calling is more general than it is specific. In the Bible we see God call people like Moses, Mary, or the Apostle Paul to play specific, extraordinary roles in the big picture of God’s story. Hear how God speaks to Moses in Exodus 3:10, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt,” and how he describes Paul in Acts 9:15 “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

I hope you won’t take offense when I say this, but you and I are not that special. We are beloved, but the primary call we receive is the same one given to everyone who follows Christ: a call to relationship with God, to be his disciples, and to serve others in the church and the world. That’s pretty broad! Yet in its breadth, this call has room for the full scope of your gifts and the nuances of your life.

God won’t hide your call. When you believe that all of life is lived with God, you don’t have to worry about missing his plan for you. Instead, your focus can shift to exploring how you will “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received,” (Ephesians 4:1.) Tod Bolsinger, an author and professor at Fuller Seminary claims that calling is “formed, rather than found.” Our call takes shape over time as God leads us through circumstances that form our character. Like a block of marble that will become a sculpture, God forms us into the shape that best serves the opportunities and relationships ahead. We may not see what the final form will be, but we can trust that each step or strike of God’s chisel will sculpt us to his design.

A broad vision of calling asks us to be entrepreneurial in shaping our lives. You have been entrusted with the immense and exciting responsibility of co-creating your life with God. Embrace life with God as an opportunity to investigate, experiment, and grow. Don’t let misconceptions about calling keep you from exploring all that He has for you.

“Live creatively ... Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” - Galatians 6:1,4-5 (The Message)

Joanna Meyer is director of public engagement at the Denver Institute for Faith & Work, where she leads public events, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that equips Christian women for godly influence in public life. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, as an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary, and in campus ministry with Cru. Her book, Women, Work, & Calling: Step into Your Place in God’s World, was recently released.


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