For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
– Ephesians 2:10
We usually do not use the terms “calling” and “stewardship” together, but we should. Not understanding the biblical relationship between these two important concepts has spiritually handicapped many evangelical Christians in the church today.
Os Guinness in his book, The Call, identifies calling as:
The truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.
Guinness then suggests while our primary calling is to be followers of Christ, that call works itself out in four distinct, practical areas:
- The family
- The church
- Our community
- Our vocations
Our primary calling leads to these secondary callings, as we follow and serve Christ in each of these areas.
We discern the difference between our primary calling “to be” and our secondary callings “to do” when we fully integrate God’s call to follow him into all areas of life.
For followers of Christ, living into these secondary callings should lead us to find our unique life purpose, in order to use our particular gifts and abilities to their utmost for God’s glory. Being a good steward means carrying out our callings in all of these secondary areas.
This is the essence of “whole-life stewardship:” to live out all of our lives according to God’s design and desire, fulfilling his original intent for his creation.
In his book, Business as a Calling, Michael Novak writes:
We didn’t give ourselves the personalities, talents, or longings we were born with. When we fulfill these – these gifts from beyond ourselves – it is like fulfilling something we were meant to do…The Creator of all things knows the name of each of us – knows thoroughly, better than we do ourselves, what is in us, for he put it there and intends for us to do something with it – something that meshes with his intentions for many other people…Even if we do not always think of it that way, each of us was given a calling – by fate, by chance, by destiny, by God. Those who are lucky have found it.
It is also important to understand the communal aspect of our callings. Fulfilling them takes place in community, whether it is in our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, or our jobs.
The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which were intended to contribute to the restoration of the creation and the people in it.
By being good stewards and in working with others, we, through the power of Christ working within us, transform the world by bringing about greater levels of flourishing for all of God’s creation.
We will only fully appreciate the value and potential of our work in all the areas of our calling when we see it in this light.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them that the basis for reward is faithfulness: “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
May each one of us be found as faithful stewards in carrying out our callings within our families, our churches, and our communities.