Is “Calling” too Confusing?

As an adolescent, I remember agonizing over what I was ‘supposed’ to do with my life. Early in life I knew that  I wanted to be in the people-serving business, and I sincerely believed it was my ‘calling’ to do so. I still do, for the record. But as an adolescent, that general commitment to helping and serving others was just to generic – I thought that there was one and only path with one and only job with one and only purpose for me. Was I to be a senior pastor who got up and preached every week? Should I open a homeless shelter that fed and trained homeless people? Or maybe I should join an international relief organization to demonstrate the love of Christ that I’ve experienced to others?

What is my calling?

That was the essential question, the one that demanded an answer. Or, to put it another way, “What if I don’t figure out what my calling is? What if I ‘miss it’?” I definitely did not want to discover the answer to that.

To make a long story short — Fast forward a handful of years to college, where we had a wonderful chaplain who loved helping students grapple with questions just like that. He helped me think of these important questions in the context of the Apostle Paul’s missional lifestyle. To put it briefly: from what we know about Paul, Paul didn’t spend time agonizing over the question, “What is the one job I must do in order to live into my calling?” Instead, we see Paul living out his calling – to say and do the love of Jesus – wherever life took him. In other words, the Christian calling, that is, the life every Christian is asked to live by Jesus, is generic. And that’s not a bad thing. Love God and love your neighbor in whatever situation life throws your way.

As The Resurgence puts it:  

Our Call Has Already Been Issued

Christians don’t need to be specially "called" to live language-of-calling-1missionally; it is inherent in being a disciple. To become a disciple of Jesus means that you evaluate your passions and talents in terms of how they can best be used to spread God’s kingdom. The call has already been issued: "Glorify me in all that you do. Love and serve your neighbor. Go into the world and preach the gospel to every person." That’s it.

Each person must evaluate how they have best been suited to fulfill that call, but the call is clear. If you are a businessman, you are to do excellent work to the glory of God, to the benefit of humanity, and to the testimony of Christ in your community. You don’t have to wait on a special call to begin to do so—you’ve already received that call as a Christian. We talk about finding God’s will; it’s not lost.

In my view, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific times, places, or activities to which we are called; I think that does happen. But, it does mean that we don’t need to agonize about what we should or must do; that part’s already been settled, and there’s no need to distress over it. Instead, simply get up and do it.