How do you find your calling?
I expected to discover my calling in college. I planned to take different classes, see what subjects I did or didn’t like, and my calling would be discovered.
But it didn’t turn out that way. I was still clueless about calling when graduation rolled around. I trusted God and I knew he had a plan for me, but I was still frustrated. Why was it so hard to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life?
One piece of advice I wish I heard in college is that your calling is not something you discover, it is something you recognize.
Your calling is always present. It’s not something you find under a rock or something that falls from the sky onto your lap. Instead, it shows itself, being revealed after prayer, reflection and input from trusted friends and relatives.
At IFWE’s “What’s Next? Figuring Out Faith, Work, and Calling” conference at Regent University earlier this month, Rick Wellock, director of organizational development at Serving Leaders, explained this concept about calling:
God’s will for your life is not a job. Rather, it’s being who you are, where you are, with who you are with, given the way that you’re gifted, and the way you’ve yielded those gifts.
When I heard Wellock say this, I couldn’t believe it was that simple. I knew God’s calling for my life was not limited to a job, but it never occurred to me that my calling was really just who I am, created with unique gifts in the image of God.
A second piece of advice I wish someone had told me in college is that your calling is not something you figure out on your own.
Wellock demonstrated this by pairing students together and walking them through an exercise to help them recognize their vocational callings together in relationship. This is an exercise you can participate in, too.
Here’s what you need:
1. One hour.
2. A close friend or family member.
3. Paper and something with which to write.
Step #1: Each person starts by writing down a short summary of two stories they remember from their childhood, one occurring before ten years old and one occurring after ten years old. The stories can be anything from building a fort to running a lemonade stand. Each story should be an example of something you enjoyed doing and did well, with some sense of satisfaction.
The idea behind this is that God has created us with unique gifts that have always been present in us. Romans 12:4-6 says,
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Conversation about childhood memories can help us recognize the different talents God formed us with in the womb, so that we might use them for his glory.
Step #2: Exchange papers and take turns interviewing each other. Ask your partner three questions about each story:
1. What did you do?
2. How did you do it?
3. How was it satisfying to you?
Pay attention to the verbs your partner uses in their explanations. These verbs are clues to determining prominent themes or patterns in your partner’s stories. Take note of these themes or patterns, and write them down.
Step #3: Exchange papers again and take some time to reflect on the themes and patterns your partner recognizes in your stories.
Pick one theme about yourself to intentionally observe moving forward. Think about how you will observe it. Try to catch yourself repeating this pattern in the future and ask yourself, “How can I do more of this?” and “How can I do it better?” Knowing your gifts allows you to use them as God has called you.
When I went through this exercise, God revealed patterns in my life that I did not see before. As I revisited my childhood, I was surprised to see self-inflicted stereotypes of myself crumble. God used conversation about my past to reveal new talents that I previously didn’t recognize. He also used this conversation to affirm what I already knew about myself and my calling.
Repeating this exercise with prayer and several people who know you well can help reveal what you are made of and awaken you to what God has called you to do.
To watch IFWE’s full conference, “What’s Next? Figuring Out Faith, Work, and Calling,” at Regent University on January 14th, 2013, click here.
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