At Work

More Implications of Calling for Life and Work

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Ed. Note: This post has been adapted from its original form. Read the full paper here.

Last week we began exploring the impact calling can have on how we live and work. Today I want to share with you a few more insights about how a sense of calling can orient our lives.

  • We often need to take a lower position and wait for God to use us in greater ways. 

In Luke 14: 7-11, Jesus tells a parable when he notices guests are picking places of honor at a meal:

When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you shall come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline in the last place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher,’…For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Note that it is better to take the lower place and wait for the appropriate time to be moved to the higher place. It is hard, especially for gifted young people, to start in a lower position in a job. We are often impatient to use our gifts more fully. If we are faithful in little tasks, we will prove worthy of greater responsibility.

Francis Schaeffer once said in a classic sermon that it is better to stay in the lower place until the Lord sees you are prepared for the demands of a higher position. He will then lift you to that higher responsibility. You don’t have to be passive when the opportunity comes, but it is important to recognize the necessity of being prepared.

  • God created people for every position in the Body, and every position on the corporate flowchart. 

I have found some interesting cases among the hundreds of vocational profiles I have done. Relatively few people are made to be CEOs. Some are best as the second in command. Some are made to be inventors. Others love managing the details of an organization.

I interviewed one man whose greatest desire was to be janitor of the local school and make those floors shine. Another interviewee wanted to help the boss succeed, and loved being a support person.

It is imperative to know what you are made for, and not to desire, envy, or covet another’s position. Few are created to be Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, or Ravi Zacharias – but you can still find your place and delight in it.

  • A recovery of calling is essential for the church and the nation. 

In 1985, Robert Bellah wrote a classic book called Habits of the Heart. Bellah and his team interviewed many people throughout America about why they were committed to friends, spouses, community, and political life. They found that people had a great difficulty articulating reasons for their commitment other than their own selfish interests. The language of commitment to others was lacking.

Bellah maintained that our nation desperately needed to recover the idea of calling. We are called out of our autonomous, self-centered existence in order to love God and others. To paraphrase President Kennedy, we need to ask “not what another can do for you, but what you can do for another.”

We live before an audience of One and are called by him to give our lives for others.

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