I was only 12 years old when I sat in my mom’s car. I was sobbing. I’d had the opportunity to do some traveling and singing throughout my younger years… I always thought I was going to be a singer when I grew up. But being exposed to “the life” on a small scale (a VERY small scale) showed me that I actually hated it. I couldn’t handle the stress and pressure. I didn’t want to adopt to what other people wanted me to sing… it just wasn’t for me. But I had an identity crisis because of it. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I thought I was called to this. I cried out to my mom and said, “mom, I don’t want to be a singer anymore! I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life!”
To which my mother responded, “Baby, you’re 12! You don’t have to know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. You have to know what you want to do right now.”
But I thought I was supposed to be a singer! I was so confused.
I feel like Christians do this alot. We put great importance on the idea of “calling”. It’s something that seems to weigh really heavily on a lot of people including myself. A lot of times we stress ourselves out worrying about how to discern God’s calling?
“Am I supposed to take this job?”
” Am I supposed to date this person?”
” Am I supposed to stop pursuing the dream?”
” Am I supposed to move home?”
“ Am I supposed to… whatever!!”
It can be really overwhelming. Especially for those in their college years. We feel like there are really big decisions that we are making as young individuals and we have to get it right or we could mess up God’s perfect plan, right?
Now in church lingo, we’ve come up with a solution to this problem… we call it God’s permissible plan, right? You have God’s “perfect plan” that you get if you make every decision perfectly and you have this ESP kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit where you can just tune in perfectly to His direction and His voice, so you never miss out on God’s absolute best. But if you can’t make every decision just right…that’s ok…we have God’s permissible plan, which basically means, when you’re human and you don’t make the perfect decisions to lead to your perfect life then God has a back up plan! This was meant to alleviate stress from our lives and help us not all pull our hair out. And while it sounds good, it still leaves us completely stressed about trying to reach that unattainable “perfect plan” that we’re supposed to be shooting for! We can’t miss the call of God because we want the perfect life.
Christian culture glorifies “the call of God”. I remember when I was at Liberty we had a married couple come speak at convo and their testimony went something like he was “called to full-time vocational ministry when he was 16 and little did he know that the exact same night, in a completely different town, she was called to full-time vocational
ministry too!” Now, it sounds like I’m making fun of them and I don’t mean to. They are serving the Lord together and that’s great. I’m a bit biased against this story because when I first got engaged to Jordan, the culture was so that when people found out that Jorda
n was on track to become a worship leader full time, they would look at me and say, “when were you called to ministry?” I would look back at them and say, “I’m a Christian. We’re all called to ministry.” I knew what they meant, but I’ve always been confused by the question.
Now, there is nothing wrong with someone feeling a heavy burden to want to lead God’s people in His church. I am the daughter of a preacher and the wife of a worship pastor. I love those incredible leaders, but I believe we have overused and misused this phrase. It’s what I like to call giving a “heavenly measure to an earthly weight”.
It may seem like semantics, but our words become our message and we need to know what we are telling people. Words are important. Words become our message, which becomes our belief and belief shapes our worldview. It affects how we view God and everybody else!
So let’s talk about the word…calling.
We use it often in reference to a specific direction we believe God has ordained us for. But, in scripture, “the call” is primarily speaking about being called to faith in Jesus or being called to intimacy with Jesus. In my study (feel free to correct me if you know of one), I have yet to see a time in scripture when this word is used to denote a specific job or responsibility. Why? When it comes to work, it matters less about where or what you do and more that you do it for the Lord. He cares more about your obedience to becoming Christlike than a job title or salary.
Look at 1 Corinthians 1:26-27
- is this passage saying that he elevated the more ignorant to places of scholastic superiority to the intelligent because they were chosen?
- did he favor a weak man over a strong to win the ancient Olympics because the weaker athlete was favored by God?
no! because the calling has nothing to do with the occupation. It has to do with the election (not talking about Calvinism “election”, but simply those that have accepted the call of God to intimacy with Him)!
1 Peter 5:10 says it this way:
has called you to what?? …”this eternal glory in Christ”.
Of course, there are instances in scripture where God gave very specific instructions to someone to go somewhere or do something specifically. But this is never used to describe a “call of God”. We need to be very careful before we give a heavenly measure to an earthly weight.
We get so frustrated when searching for our calling or the answer to a question concerning what we should do or go or whatever because we want to know God’s calling.. the answer is…He’s already given us His calling. If you know the Lord, you have answered His call, now we are to live a life deserving of the call according to Ephesians I think. His Word gives you the answers you need. It will tell you who to marry, where to go, what to do, and who to be and the answer to all of them is Jesus. I know that sounds like an oversimplification. No, it does not give you the name of your spouse, or the salary to accept, or the town to move to, because this book is not about us. We read it in the hopes of finding fixes to our problems, but this book is a book that reveals the nature of God. When we read it to get to know who God is, it comes alive. When we read it to find fixes to our problems, we get confused because you’ll read it through the lens of your circumstances. This is why the story in Luke got mislabeled “The Prodigal Son” because someone read the story and thought it was about the son that fell away. If you’ve read “Prodigal God” by Tim Keller, you’ll read this story completely differently. When you read it to learn the nature of God, you see that the story was not about the son that left but the God that stayed! Don’t read the Word looking for fixes to your problems or answers to your questions unless the question is “Who is God and how can I be like Him”?
Once that answer is “I’m growing like Christ”, “walk in a manner worthy of the call”… do it as a barista, do it as a mom, do it as a teacher, or do it on Broadway. Live your life WITHOUT FEAR! We are not called to live in fear, we are called to live boldly. Walk boldly into what you WANT. Because you know that what you want is something that will glorify the Lord because you’ve already established your calling to Christlikeness.
Rest in the knowledge that you can live your fullest life and be very happy and fulfilled in WHATEVER you are doing with the purpose of making Him known. That is the call to which we all live.