Calling… It’s a words that gets tossed around in Christian circles. Sometimes a lot. “Calling” can mean different things to different people and applies in different ways depending on the context. Yikes! So how do we make sense of it all?
Well, in one sense, as Christians we have all been called:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstbornamong many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called;those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” (Ephesians 4:3-5)
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
Called from a life of sin, slavery, blindness, and bondage.
Called to a life of righteousness, freedom, peace, and joy.
We have all been called from our old life to experience new life through Jesus Christ. Romans 12:1-2 sums it up best:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
True worship is living out our calling as living sacrifices – daily living for our new calling and forsaking our old calling. And it begins with understanding, believing, and acting on our true identity: as believers in, followers of, and children of the Most High. When we “renew our mind” we become transformed (literally, metamorphosed).
But in another sense, some of us (like Paul) have received a special “calling” into ministry.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…” (Romans 1:1)
“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased…” (Galatians 1:15)
I believe that I was called on July 10, 1982 at Hume Lake Christian Camp to follow God in vocational ministry. I didn’t know what that meant back then, just that I was all-in for God, no matter where He wanted to take me. In the words of the old hymn, “Where you lead me I will follow.” That was me. Like Isaiah, I responded to God with, “Here am I. Send me.”
My calling has served me well in my (so-far) 25+ years of ministry. There have been times – many times – when things were very difficult. There have been times when – shudder to think – people weren’t nice to the guy hired to move the church from a traditional style of worship to one that was more contemporary. There have been times that I have felt inadequate and not up to the task.
Through it all, however, my calling has been the anchor in the storm. Like a dive line leads you back to the boat at the end of the dive, so my calling has always led me back to the dining hall at Hume Lake and the afternoon I felt the very real and distinct call of God on my life.
Vocational ministry isn’t for everyone. I am old-school enough to believe that if you haven’t been called my God into vocational ministry, you will be better off finding out what your purpose and passion in life really is and then serve as a volunteer in your church and/or in a ministry of some kind.
But for those who have been called, for those few who have been set aside for a purpose (ministry), remember that ministry is not easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do. It will require that you hold onto the anchor or your calling for all it’s worth. But the rewards of seeing someone putting their faith in Christ for the first time… or seeing someone get how the truth of Scripture relates to their reality… or sitting at the side of a dear saint as they make their final journey… all those moments (and a thousand more) make it all worthwhile.
If you haven’t been called into vocational ministry, love, pray for, and support your pastor(s).
If you have been called, serve faithfully and courageously.