People often become anxious searching for a divine calling from God. Usually when a Christian wants to know their calling, they want to know the “specific calling” they have for serving the Lord.
However, when “calling” is used in the New Testament, it almost always refers to a general calling on all believers (Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:18, 4:1, 4; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Peter 1:10). Before we get fixated on discovering a “specific” calling, Christians should understand first that we all are called. If we aren’t hungry to live faithfully in our general calling from the Lord, we shouldn’t worry about discovering any specific calling. Specific callings are birthed out of general Christian callings.
For instance, every Christian is called to be a leader. Leadership is about influence, and our influence should be Godly. How are you influencing your family, your work, your church, and your neighborhood? We are all called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20), salt and light (Matt 5:13-16), to love God and others (Mark 12:30-31), make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), evangelize (Acts 1:8), and bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-23)–in essence, help change the world.
It’s when we live out the “general” calling of every Christian that God shapes our hearts in specific way. Here are three steps to discovering your Christian calling:
Step #1: Discover who you are in Christ
Start living in Jesus (surrender to him in faith and read his word). Before you do anything for Christ you need to get to know the King you serve. As you live in Jesus you will learn how to live for Jesus. The better you know him the better you can live for him. As you live for Jesus you will experience how the Lord has gifted you and called you. You find clarity in your calling as you walk with God by faith as you serve. A calling isn’t about doing a “good thing” but a “God thing” led by the Lord in his word. Part of the joy of the Christian life is learning to delight in your relationship with God as he directs your path (Ps 119:105).
Step #2: Serve where you are moved with Compassion
If money or time weren’t a limitation, what would you want to do for the Lord? Where are you moved with compassion? Does Jesus share the same heart? Compassion is an important part of Christian ministry. Compassion means “suffering with another”. Compassion reminds us that serving isn’t easy because it involves sacrifice. Where are you willing to sacrifice to see God move?
The compassion of Christ led him to sacrifice his life on the cross. His suffering puts an end to our suffering (Matthew 9:36). Every servant needs a burden that moves their heart with compassion as they fulfill their calling (Matthew 9:19). What are you burdened for? Perhaps the Lord is leading you to serve in this area.
Step #3: Have others affirm your calling
Consider Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:1-4. Before Paul and Barnabas began their first missionary journey in Cyprus, their local church affirmed their callings. This gave Paul and Barnabas confidence in their spiritual gifts, and it allowed the body of Christ to unite in prayer and support behind these two servants.
While I don’t think we always need to have an entire church affirm our spiritual gifts, we should seek the help of other Christians to identify our spiritual gifts. If you aren’t sure where you are gifted, ask others where they believe you are gifted. Hospitality? Teaching? Giving? Serving? Counseling? Mercy? Faith? Leading? Evangelism? Caring? Encouraging? Maybe you aren’t sure where you feel gifted to serve because you haven’t had opportunity to serve. By working with the church body, and taking opportunities to serve, you can discover areas the Lord has gifted you. Take a risk and serve. Not just in the church walls, but look also for ways to serve outside the church building. Invite others to affirm your calling and gifts as you follow Jesus. Find out where people feel blessed (or not blessed) by your service.
The best ministry ideas come from within a congregation as individuals are moved with compassion. Don’t feel like you need an army of Christians to join you before you start serving the Lord. Do what Jesus calls you to do. Your example will encourage others. Every godly movement starts with one. Be the movement. Reach people. Serve where you live. Be the church in your community. When life cuts you, bleed God’s word full of grace and truth. The question isn’t IF you are called but WHERE and HOW. Be committed, stay humble, live with godly character fully surrendered to the Lord. The more you know Jesus and walk with him, the better you will come to know your calling and live it out. It’s not complicated. Love God and Love others.