Have you ever grappled with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I know that there are probably many who have struggled with that question. In fact, some of you are still struggling to determine what you are called to do, and there are many people who are halfway through their careers or even nearing retirement who have never found the answer to that question.
The question is innocent when you're a child and there is time ahead of you; but the older you get, the more serious and important that question becomes. If you’re struggling in this area, I want to suggest you make a small shift in the way you approach the idea of what you want to be. Instead of thinking about what you want to be, think about who you want to be. Thinking about who you want to be is much more impactful. When we decide who we want to be, we can begin to understand the calling of God on our lives.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When we settle on who we want to be and we align with the purpose of God’s calling for our lives, all things begin to work together for our good.
Often, the concept of calling is confused with giftings or vision. Let me explain how they can work together. Calling is the purpose or reason an individual exists. A person’s gifting is the lens through which that calling is projected into the world. Finally, vision is the ability to imagine a future that doesn’t yet exist. When a person’s calling and giftings come together, the individual can better align with a vision that’s true to themselves.
Each of these components are very important, but your calling is the foundation that helps establish who you truly are. Understanding your calling can generate an inner rest and calm anxiety. Not knowing what your calling is can create fear and an unsettled feeling within you. I’ve seen people who struggle to find their callings move into desperate places. It can be a very dangerous way to live and lead.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” We're a chosen generation, and the Lord desires that we move out of mental and emotional darkness and into the light and illumination that He desires for us.
Our callings are not simply about what we do for a living, and they are not about the tasks we perform on a daily basis. Our callings are not about whether we work for a church or a secular job, which is usually driven by our spiritual and natural talents. Calling is more about who we are. Who we are emanates deep from within us. Knowing who you are is about having an awareness of what you value and what is truly most important to you. Your calling could be broad or specific, but it’s an internal mission that’s been shaped by the Lord and all of the learning experiences of your life. The Lord makes those good and bad experiences work together for the good.
The concept of calling is fully demonstrated in John 15:16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” Christ chose you so that you can go and bring forth fruit.
When you start to answer the question of who you are called to be, your life will begin to produce positive fruit. Discovering the things that bring you energy and joy, determining what you truly value, and deciding on what you want to be known for increases your productivity and success. Whatever setting you find yourself in, you will see the fruit of your labor. That’s where I want to be in life. I can accomplish amazing things when I learn who I am supposed to be. When I build on that knowledge with my talents and God-given vision, all things in my life will work together for the good.
There are certain practices you can implement to help you process who you want to be when you grow up.
1. Commit to prayer, fasting, and reading scripture.
Make your calling a spiritual matter before you give too much intellectual thought to it. It’s really not a calling if it’s not a spiritual matter. Your calling is meant to agree with what scripture says.
2. Consider your history.
What has the Lord allowed you to succeed at doing? What challenging experiences have you had? What negative things have you experienced? Knowing your personal history will help you understand what shape your mindset.
3. Concentrate on your spiritual and natural gifts.
You don’t want to do something that doesn’t naturally align with who you are as a person. People will see through your insincerity. I wrote a three-part series that discusses personal gifts, and I suggest you read it if you are interested in determining what your giftings are.
4. Determine what is most important to you.
Think about the things that you value most; those are the things that you need to invest your time and energy in.
5. Decide on what you want to be known for at the end of your life.
Unless your desires come from purely selfish ambition and gain, the Lord has placed those desires in you for a particular reason. Cultivate your calling around those desires.
6. Reflect on the traits you admire in other people.
Pay attention to the qualities in others you admire and want to emulate. Practice implementing those traits into your own life.
7. Ponder the advice, thoughts, and suggestions of the important people in your life.
Sometimes the important people in our lives can see things within us that we can’t see ourselves. The Lord has designed it that way so that we may take advantage of those key relational insights that others can give us.
The Lord has called you to His service in His Kingdom in some way. Though you may grow and develop your talents and gifts, your calling is sure. You lack nothing. Therefore, I encourage you focus your time and energy on your calling now. I promise the fruit of your investment will come; and when the fruit comes, you will truly enjoy the journey of life.
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