How Do You Discover Your Calling?
The baby-naming website Nameberry has a list of the most unusual baby names based on data from the Social Security Administration. Here are some names babies were given last year.
Handsome and Boss will just have to live with their names. Because names are given to you. You don't get to choose your name.
What’s my calling in life? As a pastor, I get this question regularly. Here's the first place to start:
A calling is like a name. It is given to you. It is placed upon you. It is chosen for you. Martin Luther used the Latin word vocatio which means “calling,” to describe the God-given callings that we all have. And that’s the whole point. They are GOD GIVEN.
What are your callings? You may be a brother, sister, mother or father, neighbor, classmate, teammate, employee, or boss. As you think about your own callings, consider a few characteristics of a call. I'm using the call of Abram in Genesis 12 as a basis for these characteristics.
Callings are God’s Initiative
“Now the LORD said to Abram . . .” (Gen. 12:1)
Abram was taken out of nowhere. He had no prerequisite qualifications to be called by God. He did not apply. He didn’t take the Myers-Briggs test or a vocational assessment. GOD JUST CALLED HIM. This is complete divine initiative. God initiates. God introduces. God starts.
There is a Latin term, extra nos, which means “from the outside.” It refers both to our salvation and our callings. Both come from the outside, meaning that we can’t attain them by sheer skill or will. We need someone to come from outside of us. To rescue us, to direct us. God takes the initiative, from outside of us. Only then can we respond.
Callings are a Movement
“Go from your country and your kindred to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1).
For Abram, God’s call took him from one place to another. From his country and kindred to an unknown land. The most important calls in your life do the same – they move you from one point to another point. From what you know to what you don’t know.
Our callings require movement, and sometimes scary movement. Think about the call to parenthood. A new job. A new school. A relocation. The call to care for aging parents. This requires movement from the comfortable and familiar to the uncertain and unknown. Callings will test you and humble you.
Callings Carry a Promise
God called Abram to “go.” But he didn’t call him to go it alone. His command was coupled with a promise. He said “go” one time (Gen. 12:1). But he promised, “I will” five times (Gen. 12:1-3). “I will show you, I will make you, I will bless you.” Jesus did the same in the Great Commission. “Go . . . I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20).
When God gives a command, he accompanies it with a promise. If God calls you to something, he will give you what you need for the task ahead. This is a great relief, especially when we feel unqualified or unprepared to fulfill our callings.
Callings are for Others
God said, “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). The words “so that” are really important. They express an intended result. God blessed Abram “SO THAT” he would be a blessing. His call was bigger than him. It was for others.
God’s goal for your calling is not to make you happy. His goal is not to make your dreams come true. That’s Disney’s goal. God’s goal is to save you, and then to call you to important work. And your work is for others.
Your callings are a blessing from God. But your blessing is not to be selfishly hoarded. There is purpose in your blessing. Have you been given wealth? Share it. Have you been given a great family? Adopt others into it. Have you been called to a position of influence? Use it for the sake of others. God-given vocations are always for the good of your neighbor.
Callings Require Faith
“So Abram went, as the LORD told him” (Gen. 12:4).
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called . . . he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).
Abe was 75 years old. He gathered his wife and his whole household and just went. The biblical record does not indicate that he objected. Not to say that he didn’t hesitant or pause. But all we are told is that “he went as the LORD told him.”
Faith is when someone calls you and you simply “go.” When my child is stuck on a branch in the tree he climbed and I say “Jump,” and he just jumps. Because he trusts me. He has faith. He answers my call.
You have callings that are filled with uncertainty. You might shiver with fear to take the first step. You might hesitate. You might wonder, “God, are you really calling me to this?” When God calls you to something, it’s not neatly packaged or clearly mapped out. So like Abram, you just start walking. And you trust that when you take a step, there is ground underneath. And that takes faith.
Callings Require a Call Back
We meet Abram at the end of Genesis 11. The narrative moves into chapter twelve. But Abram does't say a word until this point: “(Abram) called upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 12:8). God spoke. God called. Abe listened. Only after God called him does he call back.
Those who are called by God must call him back. Our God-given callings can be so daunting. It is necessary to call on him for help. Does your call seem impossible? Call on him. Are you confused about your calling? Call on him. Not sure what to do next? Call on him. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).
Like names, callings are given to us. Your parents gave you just the right name. And God has called you just the right name. He calls you “My child.” You are called his child because Jesus answered a call. A call to cross heaven and hell. A call to bleed and suffer. God calls you:
And it's better to be called Forgiven and Loved than to be called Savvy or Awesome.
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