There is but one calling: His calling, His purpose. Yes, you may be a doctor, teacher, executive, engineer, clerk, actor, salesperson, service worker or drive a cab, and these may be settled states in life or life-long dreams achieved or in process. But as a Christian, your real aim is tied to His leading, direction and service.
Hence the struggle, or it should be.
Why is prayer, study of scripture and fellowship in the church body such a fundamental basis for the Christian life? Because that is how we are led, nudged, pulled and directed to follow His path and His purposes for our life where we live and throughout the world. Apart from this supernatural intervention we are islands of selfish, individual desires and goals. Given this tension, it’s not surprising that many people are conflicted in wanting to please God but also succeed in life.
When we seek great things for ourselves and our career, we risk putting up a barrier to God’s use of us. If we surrender our aims, our everything – life, family and career – He is then able to take our God-given gifts, talents and inclinations and direct them for His good purposes and aims. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7) So while we may aspire to inspired human dreams and goals, our heart in prayer should be surrendering those desires to God so that we are now dedicated workers for His glory and Kingdom purpose.
The Apostle Paul was in manufacturing (tent-maker), gospel writers Luke and Matthew were in healthcare and financial services. Paul kept up his tent-making business (his ministry was self-funded). Most likely Luke did as well. No doubt Matthew reoriented his corrupt tax collecting practices. They all were redirected in their new-found faith and “calling” under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of their vocation, the Kingdom, the world, is better for their surrendering to the calling of obedience to knowing and loving God above all things.
Variations on a Theme
And it is a singular calling. There are certainly variations on the theme of submission and surrender. It looks different in the life of teacher, a CEO, or a dock worker. It is nonetheless a calling reduced to “follow Me” (see 5/4/13 post We Are Who We Follow). Sensitivity and movement toward natural proclivities, gifting and talents are good first steps for vocational choice and life-ministry. You know them in your own mind and heart. Or you’ve been told repeatedly by those who know and love you best.
Truth be told, one doesn’t need fancy tests to determine what is God-given. Examine your own heart’s longing, attraction and natural inclinations. Those are God-given. Want to be certain? Give them up to God in prayer and seek open and shut doors of opportunity and leading. Be careful as He is faithful and shows up for the devoted and submitted heart. You can therefore tread boldly forward and watch the unwrapping of your unique skills, gifts, longing and heart laid out for Kingdom purposes.
It’s Not About You
But remember, it’s really not about you and your plans and/or accomplishments, however noble and good. It is all about God, utilizing you, the unique and gifted person He created for a purpose. When you move through life fully surrendered, and it sometimes takes a lifetime to learn this lesson of full surrender, the alignment is good and God’s “will is done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
Are you clear on your purpose and calling? It’s not complicated.
“…Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:1-6