Beyond 9-5: Discerning Clarity in a Foggy World

phone-calling-in-the-past   Has someone ever asked you what your calling in life is?  People often make the issue of calling much more complicated than it really is.  Yes, calling is important and in some cases has profound significance as it may impact our vocation or even who our spouse is.  But it really doesn’t need to sound as scary or as difficult as it often does.  Below I’d like to highlight some really easy steps for figuring out what God is asking you to do:

  • Recognize What Gives You Life

What are you passionate about?  What wakes you up in the morning and energizes you to get out of bed rather than have a long lie-in?

Who are the people you like to spend time with the most?  What activities do you enjoy being a part of?  What social causes make your blood boil?  Do you find yourself instantly drawn to a particular culture, people-group, or age demographic?

It’s important to note that our passions are uniquely ours.  There is no “right” or “wrong” Christian answer.  For example, some Christian groups represent pastoral or missionary vocations as being the highest goal.  These positions are important, but God may not be leading you in that direction.  You may appreciate good preaching, but prefer to be quiet and serve behind the scenes.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • Recognize What You are Naturally Gifted At

What skills or abilities are you most proud of?  What opportunities have you already had to use those skills and how did it turn out?

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  What have others around you affirmed you in?  Has anyone ever told you that you are extremely patient or caring?  A good listener?  A talented musician?  An inspiring writer?  Do you agree or disagree with their observations (this isn’t about being proud or modest!)

  • What are Your Dreams and Life Goals?

Do you feel led to a specific geographical location?

Does the idea of learning a new culture and language excite or scare you?

Are you keen to be adventurous and explore the world or do you have marital and family obligations to remain at home?  (It’s okay if you do).  If you are married, your decisions and calling must be discussed with your spouse.  If you are single, your calling should be discussed with those closest to you who might also be affected by your decision.  Of course, it is possible that God may call you to something your parents disagree with, but you need to weigh the odds by asking yourself what you will gain and what you will lose from such a choice.

Some Thing to Remember:

  • God Will Never Call You to Do Something You Can’t Handle

When I was 24, God called me to be a missionary to people with learning disabilities in Scotland.   I love travelling and had already left North America multiple times by that point, but I was also really scared.  It’s okay to be terrified of the unknown.  You may worry you won’t fit in, make any friends, or that you will be incredibly lonely.  If you have a more practical mind, you may worry about the logistics like finances and visas.  Trust me, God would not call you to do anything you couldn’t tackle with His help!

I had several very difficult months before I became a missionary where I faced intense spiritual warfare, health issues, and financial pressure, but God also used that time to strengthen me and deepen my trust in Him.  Today when I reflect on my time abroad, I see how God divinely orchestrated everything from good team dynamics at work to a loving church family.  I’ve had many blessings abroad and I give Christ all the glory for them.

  • God Doesn’t Contradict His Word – He Isn’t Going to Call You to Do Something that Clearly Contradicts His Character

Here’s one example that I have seen even the strongest Christians fall prey to: you meet this amazing girl or guy.  They seem like the complete package: they are good looking, funny, loving, and make you feel great whenever you spend time together.  There’s only one problem: they aren’t a Christian.  Listen: it really doesn’t matter how attracted you are to them – the Bible is clear on this one.  No faith means no date which means no mate.  That’s the end of it.  It isn’t debatable.  God is not calling you to “flirt to convert” or to somehow lead them to Him.  That isn’t your responsibility or your role.  If you go down that path, you need to recognize that you will be playing with fire.

  • Sometimes Callings Change

Last week at church, a Singaporean missionary to a Muslim majority country spoke to us.  He related how God originally called Him to Scotland (already a different culture and out of his comfort zone).  He started his life here and was content, but he was in a rut.  Not a bad rut, mind you, but a rut nonetheless.  Then God called him to a completely different part of the world.

I can relate.  When I was 18, God called me to Toronto against my will, yet I grew to love  this city.  I stayed there until I was 24 and was content.  Even now, I would move back in a heartbeat.  My life in Toronto was always a fantastic adventure.  I had it all: I was popular – the kid everyone in the university knew.  I was excelling in all my classes.  I felt I was giving a lot and able to use my gifts and abilities to the best extent possible.  I had a great job, a loving church family, and the best friends a girl could ever ask for.  I even got a job offer (without looking for it) that seemed to be quite a good fit.  But there was a problem: I was in a rut.  I knew that Toronto was for a season – and what a splendid season it was – but I also knew that season was coming to a close.

When you receive a calling, it might be 100% legitimate, but it might be for a limited time.  In some cases, it could be for life, but definitely not always.  For example, God may 100% be calling you at this particular moment in time to be single – to focus on Him, not to chase guys.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that for the next 30 years you need to take a vow of celibacy.

When you are being called to something new, don’t look back.  Read Hebrews 11 – if you look back too frequently, you might start idealizing the past.  You may start wanting to go back to your rut – DON’T!  There’ a reason God is calling you to this new adventure even if you can’t see it now.

  • God is More Concerned With You Being in the Centre of His Will Than You Are

Don’t become preoccupied with whether God is calling you to do this or that.  He gave you a brain and free will – use them!  If you are going in the right direction, God will confirm it by opening up the right doors.  If you are headed down the wrong path, God will convict you by closing the right doors.  Now, sometimes our heart stirs us to believe God is or is not calling us to do a certain thing because of our own fear or pride.  Often God calls us out of our comfort zones to do something we’d rather not do, but when we consciously make the effort to hear His voice, and when we spend time in His Word and in prayer, there’s generally no denying what it is we should do.

Discerning God’s will for your life might not always be easy, but it also doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated either.  By actively seeking out God’s will for your life, trusting Him to provide, and abiding in His Word – all things will be made clear to you.  Put your life in the Almighty and saving hands of Jesus, and you will find that the rest just naturally flows forth to usher in the greatest blessing.

 

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