This post shares my personal journey finding and following my spiritual calling. If you’re looking for meaning and purpose in your life, my hope is that my story will inspire you to discover your spiritual calling and live it out in a meaningful way. Following my calling has brought an intensity to my life (in a good way) that I could never have imagined, a feeling that what I’m doing makes a difference for someone, and is meeting a deep need in this world, no matter how big or small.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Living A Purposeful Life, something I’ve been focused on fervently the past several months. I set a goal at the beginning of this year “To make a difference in someone’s life by: (1) showing someone they are loved when they feel unloved, (2) meeting someone at their deepest need, (3) developing deeper relationships/connections and having meaningful conversations.”
Here’s my progress report so far. I have been trying to prioritize what I focus on each day to make better use of my precious time. My days are full and I feel a sense of urgency to do something each day that directly or indirectly helps someone. It’s not always easy to stay focused. However, having a goal that I feel accountable for drives my day-to-day activities. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I am committed to making a difference in someone’s life, big or small.
BEFORE FINDING MY SPIRITUAL CALLING
I haven’t always cared about or focused on living life on purpose. For most of my life, I’ve just lived without giving much thought to what the purpose of living is. However, several years ago, I started to ponder what the purpose of my life was. Three of my boys were out of the house, with just one left. I felt a void as I pondered being an empty nester in another four years. I’ve spent 24 years of my life being a mom so far, which has filled my time and given me purpose. Like many mothers, as we experience this phase of our life coming to a close, it can be unsettling. We go from having a full-time job to being unemployed, as our kids wean themselves from needing us to becoming more independent. This is how life is supposed to go.
FINDING MY SPIRITUAL CALLING
I believe we all need to feel we have a purpose for living. When we feel we have no purpose, we can start feeling lonely, lost, insecure. This can sometimes lead to anxiety over our circumstances, and perhaps even depression. I know I’ve felt lost and anxious many times when I believed there was little or no purpose to what I was doing on a day-to-day basis. I was just being, not living.
I now realize that God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us. It’s just a matter of whether or not we are ready to accept God’s plan to live our life with purpose.
As I started focusing on my God-given gifts and talents and accepted new challenges as growth opportunities rather than stumbling blocks, I began to discover my spiritual calling. This perspective – that God created us to work to bring Him glory and serve others with the gifts He’s given us – has transformed how I live my life.
I remember listening to Matthew West’s song Do Something in the car several years ago and being hit hard by the lyrics.
I’d been sitting on the sidelines for way too long. Sure, I had helped people here and there over the years and volunteered at my children’s schools and church, but the time I allotted to helping out was based on what I could fit into my “busy” schedule, not based on the needs of others. And it certainly wasn’t much considering there are 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It was time to step into the world to do something more.
“I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still”
So, how did I start discovering what my spiritual calling is? I’m not an expert in this area. All I can do is share my personal experience. I spent many years not thinking about my calling or even knowing what a spiritual calling meant. I was on the never-ending treadmill of working in the corporate world, being a busy mom of four boys, and taking care of my in-laws who lived with us.
A few years ago I started devoting more time to think about my purpose in life. I started spending time each morning with God and I continue to do this. I read several daily devotions, study the Bible through women’s Bible study groups I’ve joined, and I spend time praying each morning. I thank God for the many provisions He’s given me and ask Him to show me how to use them to glorify Him and serve others.
I also read inspirational books like Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, Joyce Meyer’s Seize the Day: Living On Purpose And Making Every Day Count, and Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward: A Proven Plan To Stop Drifting And Get The Life You Want.
Are you ready to ask God how to put your gifts and talents to work for His glory and to serve others?
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRITUAL CALLING?
One way I think of a calling is this: where your passion, gifts and talents, and the world’s deepest needs intersect. At the present moment, I believe my spiritual calling is the intersection of my passion (cooking), God-given gifts and talents (mercy, compassion, good with people one-on-one, ability to provide comfort in a calm, unintrusive manner), and one deep need in our world (highly independent people who don’t like to ask for help but find themselves in circumstances where they could use a helping hand).
I’m most comfortable diving in to help people where these three areas intersect. It doesn’t sound like a big calling, but it is what I believe my calling is.
I do believe our calling can change depending on what stage of life or season we’re in. I believe my calling was to care for, nurture, love, feed, and teach my children to grow into responsible, young adults when my children were younger. Currently, I believe my calling is to nurture and love upon people going through a rough spot who don’t feel comfortable asking people for help. This can take the form of cooking for cancer patients, and it currently includes taking care of an elderly relative in deep need of help.
Sure, it can be scary to follow our spiritual calling. I know I’ve been afraid to commit on more than one occasion. Sometimes, it feels like I’m standing on a cliff and I need a little push to take the leap. (My husband gave me the gentle push recently to dive into a situation I was overwhelmed and paralyzed by, but I can honestly say it has been an amazing growth experience so far).
Other times, I make excuses that I’m too busy. (When I told a friend I was too busy to help someone she wanted me to reach out to, she spoke in brutal honesty that my time was what I made of it…it was all a matter of what I made a priority. Those words stung at the time, but gave me the nudge to help that person in need and it was richly rewarding.)
Standing on the sidelines is ignoring the world’s deepest needs and missing out on our calling. My faith and trust has deepened and I now know God will provide a parachute and catch me if I jump off the cliff. And if I keep saying no when I am called, God will keep knocking until I say “yes.” I have experienced both of these in the past several months.
Are you ready to be called? If you’ve been called, what have you been called to do?
THINGS THAT HELP ME FOLLOW MY SPIRITUAL CALLING
I’m new at following my calling, but I would like to share some things I’ve learned so far that have helped me stay focused on pursuing my spiritual calling.
- MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE: I’ve turned down opportunities to follow my calling when I thought I was too busy with “more important” things or didn’t “have the time.” We need to be ready and willing to do what God calls us to do; otherwise we might miss an opportunity to meet a greater need than our own.
- UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF FOLLOWING YOUR CALLING: Following our calling has nothing to do with us. It’s all about bringing glory to God, not ourselves. Even if we get the kudos, we must always remember that the kudos belong solely to God.
- TRUST AND OBEY: Human nature causes us to want to control as much of our life and circumstances as we can. But, following our calling requires us to learn to trust and obey God. Just as parents have the best interests of their children at heart, so does God; children learn to trust and obey their parents as they recognize their intentions are good.
- FACE YOUR FEARS: Following my spiritual calling has required me to face my fears. I am by nature a planner, so I like to know what’s ahead of me before I dive in. One of my devotions (In Touch by Dr. Stanley) said “many people miss God’s best because apprehension keeps them from stepping out in faith to do His will.” Recently, I found myself stuck, paralyzed by fear – fear of the overwhelming situation standing in front of me, fear of diving in and fear of finding no end in sight, fear of giving up so much of my time for an indefinite period of time to help someone else. Yes, following our calling can be scary, but it is so rewarding.
- ASK FOR HELP: Children cry out their parents when they need help. Similarly, as Christians, we can cry out for help and God will answer our prayers. There have been times when I am at a loss and am facing a mountain that I can’t move. God doesn’t expect nor does he want us to face challenges alone. He wants us to ask Him for help. I had a personal experience recently when I was faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem and couldn’t figure out how to proceed. My morning devotion spoke about crying out to Jesus and that’s what I did at that very moment. After I was done with my morning quiet time, I saw a text from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while, asking to catch up with me. We spoke by phone, and she connected me with someone who knew exactly how to help me climb the insurmountable mountain I was facing. I couldn’t believe it! God had answered my cry for help on the spot. Isaiah 41:10-13 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- BE PATIENT: I’m an impatient person by nature. I like immediate results. Just ask my husband. When I ask him to do something for me, I want him to do it now, not an hour later, not tomorrow. Following my calling has taught me to wait on God, to trust His timing, not try to force my own schedule. I have to humble myself to patiently wait, to trust God’s judgement, not my own, and to walk in obedience to God. Psalm 46:10 is a constant reminder for me to “Be still and know that I am God,” to slow down, wait, and listen.
- STAY FOCUSED: It’s so easy to get distracted these days with the internet, iPhones, and social media. Once I know where God wants me to focus my time, I try to stay laser focused. I prioritize my time better, eliminate time wasters, and spend my precious time focused on what is most important. Another type of distraction is when people question my motive for helping someone. This has happened to me in the past. I remember being surprised and hurt when I learned someone was questioning why I was helping someone I barely knew. Now, I have learned not to let this distract me from following my spiritual calling. The work I am doing is too important to God’s plan.
- LET GOD LEAD: Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your Hand.” In order to do God’s work and fulfill our calling, we must submit ourselves to God and let Him lead. See TRUST AND OBEY above. I remember a number of years ago, a woman in my Bible study group said there is a straight path we can follow according to God’s plan. But we veer off track doing what we want to do and get distracted. If we just could trust and obey God, we’d stay on track and get the job done so much easier and faster. “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” – A.W. Tozer
- BE A TEAM PLAYER: We all like pats on the back, and while I don’t like to be center stage, I won’t lie and say I don’t like compliments. However, God has taught me that my role in His plan can be small or big because ultimately, it’s not about me. It’s about fulfilling His plan. And even if my role is tiny, I need to fulfill it, to be a team player. My daily devotion said it well, “God isn’t interested in impressive human talent and natural ability. He’s looking for humble people who are totally depending upon Him and willing to make themselves available for whatever He calls them to do…If you’ll simply depend on Christ, make yourself available, and obey Him, He’ll use you for His glory.”
- GROW IN FAITH: Following my spiritual calling has required me to trust God more, to be obedient, to be more patient, and to cry out for help when I’ve hit a wall. My faith has grown deeper, I have experienced many blessings and a closer relationship with Christ, and my daily life is so much fuller and purposeful as I try to live out my calling. I feel an urgency each day to make everything I do count towards furthering the kingdom of God.
- WHY WE SHOULD FOLLOW OUR CALLING: Why bother figuring out what our calling is and following our spiritual calling? One day we will stand before Jesus and give an account of how we used our resources and gifts. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” These may sound like harsh words, but I know I want my life’s work to be meaningful and reveal something more than straw, hay or wood.
Will you be ready when God calls you?
I’m going to end this post with one of my favorite songs that I love listening to lately. It’s Chris Tomlin singing Good Good Father, especially the part
“As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love”