how do I find my calling?
Updated: May 3
For the past few Tuesday nights, I have had the privilege of studying the Bible with 25+ young adults (and young at heart!) as we read the book of Hebrews (you can read my Hebrews study here). After our time in scripture, I try to take a moment to hear what people are thinking- what questions they are wrestling with about God and the Bible. I've decided to write a trail of blog posts discussing some of the common questions I've seen in those Bible studies.
One of the most frequent questions I am hearing is, "How do I know what God is calling me to do with my life?"
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to feel important, noticed, and valuable to those around me. I used to think this was just something unique about me, but the more I spend time working with people, the more I am learning that we all have this deep desire. I believe that because we were made in God's image and made to live in direct connection and direct contact with him, it is very natural for us to feel like purpose is missing in our lives now that we are trapped in a sinful world. Think about it- if you had direct face-to-face contact with God, you would no longer have to wonder what your calling was or how to find it. You could simply ask! Actually you would probably simply know from being in his presence because the Bible tells us that by beholding we are changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The good news is, although we are separated from God, we are not separated from his influence in our hearts or his calling for our lives. In the New Testament, we see the Holy Spirit released into the world (John 14:16) and into the lives of those who accept and believe in Jesus. I believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through scripture and through prayer. It can be easy for us to lose sight of this in our modern societies. We want instant gratification and clear, direct guidance yet God doesn't always work like that. Think about Jesus' ministry on earth for example. So many of his life lessons were told in parables and it took people days and maybe weeks or months to fully understand what he was trying to say. Even today we read passages in the Bible and it takes us a lot of time and effort to understand them. Why does Jesus speak to us in this way? Perhaps it is because he wants to see how authentic our desire is to truly know him.
Think about it this way- we don't ever truly appreciate the things that are given to us easily. Sure we might enjoy those things, but we don't appreciate and value them the same way we do the things that we earn and discover on our own. Part of the excitement and impact of following God comes from the time we put into knowing him. Jesus says that we will seek him and find him when we seek him with all of our hearts. This doesn't mean that he is hiding from us, but it does mean we must put in some effort to learn all he has for us. It is good for us to be challenged.
It is the same with our calling. The truth is, you are probably already carrying out your calling.
We think of our calling as many different things: a job, an accomplishment, a role for us to fill. I believe the root of our calling actually lies within us, in our talents. It is not just a coincidence that you love music or baking or working with the elderly. It isn't random that people repeatedly recognize a leadership quality in you or an ability to get things done efficiently. God designed you for a specific mission and he placed those burdens- those passions on your heart for a reason.
So often we second guess our callings. We see other people with similar interests to ours or doing similar things to us and we think, "Wow, they are way better at it! What was I thinking!?" It always amazes me how kind we can be to other people while we subconsciously beat up ourselves. Sure, there are some people who are better at certain things than we are, but that does not discredit the special calling God has placed on our hearts. We must learn to trust what we feel him impressing upon our hearts and minds.
This blog is such a good example of that for me. I must've written 20 different blogs before I started this one, and every single one of them failed or I gave up on. Yet deep down, even though I told myself I was a terrible writer, I knew I wanted to write. Here I am many tries later, writing to over 2,000 readers and guest writing for half a dozen publications. God knew what he was doing in my life, and he knows what he is doing in yours too.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy. I remember several VERY horrid nights where I was crying on the floor (I don't cry often, but when I do it is ridiculously overdramatic!). The tears would fall in literal puddles all around me and I would wail at God, "Why!? Why can't I just know what to do!?" Somehow despite the silence, I was able to find peace... at least enough to carry me through to the next day.
As I sought after my own personal calling, I learned the value of prayer, patience, and (my favorite) studying the Bible. It sounds cliche'. It sounds like the same old advice you always hear- but you just have to trust me. When you tell God your feelings in prayer and seek after his guidance in scripture, you will not be led astray. The Bible promises this to us:
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
The final thing that I think we all must learn from seeking after our callings, is patience. Oh man, I really hate waiting! But it is good to remember that what feels like an eternity to us is only a moment to God. He knows what he is doing and he will help you see what your next step is when you need to take it. Take time today to thank him for the little things in life. Soon those little blessings will turn into big ones before your very eyes.