Chances are you’ve heard these questions — or a variation of them — before: “What is your calling?” or “Where do you believe God is calling you?”. These are daunting questions, and I remember not knowing how to respond when I was asked those same questions as a teenager. Maybe that resonates with you because you too have been asked those questions and are not sure what God’s ‘calling’ on your life might be. To that unsure person out there, you are not alone.
I believe these have become daunting questions for two reasons: First, we do not understand what we mean by ‘called’ nor do we understand the difference between ‘called’ and ‘calling’. Second, the Christian community has limited ‘calling’ to be largely vocational ministry, leaving little space for secular professions. If we begin to teach a clear understanding of ‘calling’ in our churches and homes, I believe we will see more Christians boldly impacting their communities both at home and abroad.
The first thing that must be addressed is what do we mean by being ‘called’? The concept of being called is twofold in Scripture: first, God has called us unto life according to Ephesians 2:4-5. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and God called us and made us alive. This concept of calling permeates all of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. God has always called people unto Himself for His purposes and His glory.
God has always called people unto Himself for His purposes and His glory
Second, if we are called unto life, we are also called to make disciples and to spread the Gospel, so that others may believe and be brought to life. The last great command that Jesus gives to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 demands that we share our faith and make disciples. The sequence follows as such: God has called us unto life so that we might call others and direct them to the Life that is found in Christ Jesus alone. Therefore, for the professing Christian the question is not ‘Are you called?’ — but rather, what are you being called to? For we are all called to share the Gospel, but in what avenues can we do this?
This leads to the next question, what is your calling? As stated before, this idea of calling has become extremely narrow to many in the Christian community. When this question is vocalised, immediately, what comes to mind for many is vocational ministry, such as pastor, missionary, evangelist etc. These are all wonderful and important roles in Christ’s church; however, Christ’s church is much more than just these positions. God has gifted each of His children with special and unique abilities that can and should be taken outside the four walls of the church.
Two texts clearly communicate this idea of various callings. The first is Romans 12:4-8; here, we see Paul clearly stating that, within the body, there are different abilities given to believers, such as prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, and leading. The second is 1 Peter 4:10-11, where Peter similarly teaches that believers should use the abilities that Christ has given them to serve in order that others may know and praise God through their works. Therefore, God’s calling on our lives extends well past the typical ministerial professions.
Christ’s church is made up of much more than vocational ministers like pastors, missionaries and evangelists
What does this mean on a practical level for every Christian? First, it is fundamental that Christians recognise their call to make disciples in every sphere — whether that is in a cubicle, patient room, boardroom, lab or living room. If you really enjoy a certain field of work, and it is in line with God’s Word, then pursue it! Enjoy and develop those abilities so that you may joyful in your field and be a light in those dark and seemingly untouched areas in society. Whether you enjoy computer programming, teaching or cooking, work to use that gifting for God’s glory and kingdom.
What if every Christian in every avenue of work began to view their job as a mission field? What if every Christian viewed their job as their calling? One can only imagine what type of impact we would have on our local communities and the world at large. I believe this can be a possibility — but it all begins with a proper understanding of the call and calling that God gives us.
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