In Christianity we use the word “called” or “calling” all the time. And though I think, for the most part, we all know what people mean when they say that So and So “found their calling”, I believe there is a hidden danger in using this phrase incorrectly.
We usually use this terminology in the area of vocation. If we’re not careful we can make it sound as if God has something He has called you to (Plan A) and if you “miss that calling” you miss God’s best for you and you have to settle for plan B or C or worse. There are a few problems with seeing things this way, the first of which is the Bible.
The only times in the New Testament I could find the word called used in this way is when Christ or the Apostles spoke of God calling people to salvation, and then Paul himself says that God called him to be an Apostle. The way God called Paul to be an Apostle was only realized by Paul after looking back, seeing that God saved him and made him an Apostle. He doesn’t speak of it in such a way to make us think that God really wanted him to be an Apostle and just waited anxiously, hoping Paul would “figure out God’s will for his life”.
We are enamored, in our American Evangelical culture, with finding God’s will for our life or His calling on us. This is dangerous in several ways.
- We get focused on finding God’s hidden will for our lives, which is none of our business since God has hidden it from us for a reason, all the while ignoring God’s revealed will for us in the Bible.
- It creates pride or false security in those who have “found God’s calling” for their lives.
- It creates despair in those who “haven’t found God’s will” or “missed their calling”, believing they have to settle for second best or become second class citizens of God’s Kingdom.
- Or we could become discontent with where God has us right now because we “just know He called me to do this”, but now you are married to a person who “doesn’t have that call”. I know from personal experience that this creates a great deal of tension in the marriage. Even when both people love Jesus and serve Him faithfully there is still a feeling of unfulfillment. Therefore your “calling” becomes what fulfills you and not Christ Himself.
Are you beginning to see the subtleties? What’s the big deal? We’re just quibbling over semantics aren’t we? Though it may not seem like a big deal, we need to guard against creating doctrines that aren’t supported by Scripture.
God has gifted you and me with certain gifts, talents, abilities, skill sets, desires, and interests (Ps 139:13). He has also placed us where we are and when we are, by His design, to glorify Him (Acts 17:26). Using those gifts to the best of your ability in a way that honors Christ is being a good steward of what God has given you. This is usually what we misinterpret as “finding our calling.” Again, though I think we mostly know what a person means, using this terminology could do more harm than good.
On the flip side, if you are not using the gifts God has given you in a way that honors and glorifies Christ, I don’t think you have missed your calling. You are being disobedient to God’s revealed will for you and you’re being a poor steward of your talents. Don’t be ignorant of your gifts and abilities and don’t neglect the leading of the Holy Spirit in you who uses your emotions and gives you desires.
So, what is your calling in life?
- If you are not a follower of Christ, His call to you is to repent and believe on Him for the salvation of your soul! The promise of salvation is for all who trust in Christ’s work on their behalf, which alone is sufficient to satisfy God’s wrath toward them.
- For the believer, we have many “calls”. The Clearest verse in the Bible that points out God’s will for our lives is found in 1 Thes. 4:3. In all that we do we are to be sanctified (conformed more and more to the image of Christ).
- We are called to make disciples – Mt.28:19-20.
- We are called to give thanks in all circumstances – 1 Thes. 5:18.
- We are to reveal our faith in God by submitting to authority – 1 Pet. 2:15.
- Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord – Eph. 5:22-33.
- Just read your Bible. Every time you see a command, that is a “call” to obey that command.
In short, we are all “called” to glorify Christ in everything! That’s good news because we are not tasked with “finding God’s will for our lives”. We are in His will when we make much of Him. We have enough trouble obeying His revealed will (hence our deep need for Christ), we don’t need to worry ourselves about finding His hidden will (which we couldn’t handle even if He showed us).
Related Post: “Making Godly Decisions“