“Does everybody have a calling on their life? If so, what is my calling?”
The very word “calling” causes confusion, especially among believers, because for a long time it has been used exclusively to refer to a person being called into ministry, usually to some position of leadership in the institutional church. Therefore, if God hasn’t called you into the ministry, you don’t have a calling on your life.
I’m about to turn that idea on its head.
In the last post, I explained that every human ever born shares the same purpose: to create. Every human ever born also has a calling, but each person is assigned a unique calling.
Yes, all believers are called to share their faith. to share the love of God with the world. A small minority are called to focus their entire lives on that. But everybody else has a specific calling that God assigns to them. This calling helps to fulfill:
- the individual’s creative purpose, and
- God’s plan for the world.
Note number two. It’s crucial. Reread it like this: “The calling God has placed on your life helps to fulfill God’s plan for the world.”
Reverse translation: if you don’t follow your calling, you become an obstruction for God’s plans.
Not that God can’t work His way around a person’s ignorance or defiance. We’d really be in trouble if that were the case, because many people never answer God’s call on their lives.
Now, don’t panic if you’re not sure what your calling is. It’s not that much more complicated than figuring out your purpose (which is really simple, remember?).
Your unique calling is the where, when, and how of the overarching “why”, or purpose, of your life: to create. Where, when, and how are you to create? When you can answer that question, you’ve figured out your calling.
First, understand this
The first thing you need to understand is that your calling will not necessarily remain the same for your whole life. Or, it may remain the same but take on a variety of hues.
For example, God has called me to teach. For thirteen years the calling had me in an elementary school. Now I teach adults how to live a more abundant life, and eventually will teach children again by way of creating homeschool materials for both parents and their children.
Same calling, different hues.
The four basic types of calling
The first kind of calling is situational. Many, if not most, people experience a situational calling at some point in their life. For some, it will be their sole calling. The situational calling happens when you realize that you can do something to help the situation you are in. You can befriend someone, you can gather and lead a team to accomplish a goal, you can meet someone’s basic needs. It can be as easy as sensing that you’re supposed to help support that orphanage you just heard about and send it a monthly donation.
Basically, you pay attention to the needs around you and respond in love, and with God’s wisdom.
The second type of calling is pain-driven. A traumatic event or chronic difficult situation that you’ve experienced earlier in life now drives you to help others in similar situation. A rape victim teaches basic self-defense to teenage girls and young women. A man whose alcoholic father beat him as a child might now act as an advocate for abused children, or might help rehabilitate drug-addicted parents. A cancer survivor teaches people with a cancer diagnoses about the importance of nutrition and diet, or runs a support group for the cancer patients and their family members.
You get the picture.
The third type of calling is missional. This is a “Go out into all the world” calling. All believers are supposed to share their faith wherever they are. Some are specifically called to travel the world to do so.
But missional callings aren’t strictly about faith-sharing. If you’re a doctor, you might feel called to travel to Third-World countries and teach people basic personal hygiene skills while helping villages to set up simple water sanitation systems. If you’re an author, you might set up free webinars where you teach your craft to budding writers from around the world.
Any skill or knowledge base you have that could help make the world a better place could be set into motion with a missional calling.
Finally, there’s the passion-based calling. This is probably the most obvious type, because when someone is passionate about a certain issue, or they love using a particular skill or talent that they have, it shows. It consumes most of their waking hours. If they don’t involve themselves in their passion for even one day, they wake up the next morning desperate to get back into it.
If they have to back away from their passion for more than a day – say, they get sick or something – watch out! They are going to get crabby! Because it’s frustrating not being able to indulge in your passion.
I know. My passion is writing. Fiction especially, but any kind of writing. If I don’t write something for three days running, I start to feel empty and restless.
The call to create
If you’re not sure what your calling is right now, assume it’s situational. Look around at your circumstances right now and figure out what you can do to help the other people involved in these circumstances. What abilities do you have that could create something positive? Take the next step that you see to take. And pray.
You won’t miss your calling that way. In fact, after reading this you may realize that you are already walking out your calling!
Look back at all the types of callings. Each one, however uniquely suited to an individual, demands some level of creativity. In what ways can you create? How can you apply your creativity to your life right now, to be a blessing to others?
Answer those two questions, and you will eventually step into your calling. The important thing when asking, “What is my calling?” is to just keep on stepping and praying.
To your abundance,