Honestly, I’ve never really struggled with my calling. I knew at sixteen that I wanted to serve the Kingdom of God with my time, energy, talents, finances, and every fiber of my being. I even had a clear idea of where I wanted to work. Though I’ve never really struggled in these areas, there are some important lessons I’ve learned over the last twenty-six years of ministry. Today, I want to share some of those insights with you.
In the first post I wrote on calling, I mentioned that searching out my own salvation created a deep desire within me to serve God. I knew at sixteen that I wanted to spend my life helping people understand and obey the Gospel. I wanted to help people move from spiritual death to abundant life. This is why I do what I do even today. It’s why I have a passion for Bible studies and small groups and teaching people about leadership. This calling gives me the energy to work hard and produce good things for the Kingdom of God.
Though I’ve never struggled with this calling doesn’t mean I’ve never struggled. In fact, this calling has actually caused me to wrestle with certain things. I want to share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me successfully navigate my calling.
1. Devotion to the Lord must increase.
There was a time in my ministry that I got “too busy” to give adequate time to devotion, and that was a mistake. I learned quickly that if I want to be successful with a spiritual calling, I must pray, fast, and study the Word of God. This has to be my main priority. If I am going to finish well, I need power that comes from these sources. Honestly, I don’t need help with what I am doing as much as I need help with who I am becoming. If I want to become who the Lord wants me to be, I have to remain humble and hungry for more of God in my life.
2. Desire for the approval of man must decrease.
Over the course of my childhood, I developed a deep desire to please certain people in my life. This is called an approval addiction, and I could give you a whole series of posts on this one subject, although today I’ll keep it simple.
I now have a healthy desire to please the pastors, leaders, and other important people in my life. I have to be very careful though that my desires don’t become unhealthy. I can’t live seeking to please man. There’s no way I can please everyone all of the time, and I have to accept that.
I also have to understand that the Lord moves on me at times to do things to progress His Kingdom that don’t always make complete sense and definitely aren’t popular with the people around me. It’s important that I don’t allow the approval of man to stop my God-led progress. However, I do have a very short list of people that I submit to who have the authority to overrule any decision in my life in case I get out of line, although it’s rare that they would ever have to do that.
3. Do not overly value your image.
This point is an important one for me. Even the best of us can fall into the trap of comparison. If I allow my image to motivate what I do, the job I take, or the opportunities I pursue, I will miss the will of God for my life and derail my calling.
4. Enjoy the process of development.
A calling is not an event in your life; it’s not a job that you accept and suddenly your calling is fulfilled. Your calling is a life-long journey. Consider Moses. He had a calling to write the first five books of the Bible, but he had to grow up and receive an education in Pharaoh's house. He then spent forty years in the wilderness, but it was that same wilderness through which he would later lead the Israelites.
There are many things in life that I don't understand, but I do know that God works all things together for good. I recently heard Sis. Thetus Tenney say, “If you're still struggling, God hasn't finished working all things together.” Calling is fulfilled over the course of a lifetime. A person’s calling is usually less defined at the beginning of their life and becomes clearer as time passes. Calling can take a while to completely manifest, so focus on enjoying the process of developing your calling. I believe the Lord wants us to have fun and enjoy our spouses, kids, and friends. He desires that we have margin in our lives so that there’s balance and fulfillment as we live out our callings.
5. Your calling is to God but through people.
You must learn to build productive relationships. I discuss this point in detail in my resource The Christian Leader Blueprint. As an introvert, there are times when I’d love nothing better than to go live on an island for the rest of my life, but the Lord designed us to need people. He designed us to be insufficient in ourselves so that we need others to accomplish our purposes and fulfill the callings He’s placed within us. Work to fulfill your calling to God, but love people, cultivate relationships, and use the people around you to achieve that calling. In doing this, you will help others fulfill their callings as well.
6. Start fulfilling your calling now.
As I look back over the last twenty-six years of my life, I realize that the process of living in my calling has helped me develop into the man that I am today. If I would have waited until I was qualified to engage in my calling, I would probably still be waiting.
Wherever you are on the journey of life, live out your calling and your mission. You can’t read enough books or obtain enough resources to be qualified. Know that God develops the people whom He calls. Embrace your calling and engage in the developmental process. I promise He’ll make it happen.
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