On a Sunday morning last May (Critical Questions: Are you for us or for our enemies?), one of the three main points that I talked about was the concept of “me aligning with God” versus “expecting God to align with me”. We spent a few minutes talking about calling and purpose, and I want to describe it a bit more here.
I have written about calling and purpose a few times before (click here, here, and here), and on Sunday I mentioned the four-part model of convergence that Gordon Smith has written about as a good starting place. Let me expand it to include two additional, and critical, components. Here are six elements that, when they converge, just might help you and I identify our sense of personal calling:
- Talent or capacity. What do you do well? What do you have the ability to do that may sometimes seem easy to you, that when you do it, it is often successful? Also, what untapped talent or capacity are you developing? The key here, though, is evidence. It is not what you want to do well, it is what you actually do well.
- Desire or deep joy. In what way do you love to make a difference in the lives of others? What do you stay awake at night dreaming about, that you are going to (or want to) be involved with the next day, week, month, or even decade? What are the outward-focused activities that breathe life into you?
- Brokenness. This is the first of the three core elements. Where do you see (and sometimes feel) the pain in the world? What breaks your heart? What causes a sense of anger that motivates to you get involved and bring restoration? Where do you see the source of pain in a situation (in either individuals or society) and you want to step in a make a difference?
- Personality and temperament. How do you interact with others? How do you interact with yourself? In what kinds of contexts do you thrive?
- Community discernment. This is the second of the three core elements. We are often masters at telling ourselves what we want to hear (or we repeat the lies we have heard in the past). Do you have mature and wise people in your life now, who know you well, whom you have asked to speak into your life? If so, what do they say about your purpose, giftedness, or calling? If not, what do you have to do to begin to invite people like that into your life?
- The mission of God in your context. This is the third (and most important) of the three core elements. First, do you know what the mission of God is? Have you read a large number of big chunks of scripture and discovered what breaks the heart of God? Have you studied why Jesus walked the earth over two thousand years ago? Once you know the transforming mission of God, you will then see the context in which your particular mission or calling can be discovered. Second, have you carefully discerned what God is already doing in your specific context? Where do you see his mission being accomplished around you, and how can you join in? Also, where do you see gaps in how God’s mission is being accomplished? Maybe your calling is to initiate something to fill the gap.
Hmm … there is a lot to process there. Thinking, praying, and discerning is often best done with a few trusted friends, family, and/or a mentor. I encourage you to work through each of the elements, spend time reading the Bible and praying, and talk with one or more of the spiritual leaders in your life. And then … stop thinking and start acting! Take a risk! Be bold and get involved in the mission of God. Even if your first couple of attempts don’t go well, keep trying, keep adjusting, and eventually, you will find your calling and purpose!
(originally posted on westwoodchurch.bc.ca on May 28, 2015)