When we hear the word “calling,” we often associate it with a specific assignment or function that God has given us. While that can certainly be true, it’s secondary to the calling that He’s placed on us universally as a believer in Christ. Consider three places in scripture where the word “calling” is used:
– All things work for good for those who love I’m and who have been called
– Those He predestined, He also called, justified and glorified
– Who will separate us from Him?
– We share a heavenly calling
– fix your eyes on Jesus
– live worthy of the calling
– Be humble, gentle, patient, loving, keeping unity
– we’re called to one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God
These passages represent writings to the whole of the Church; one a letter to the church in Rome, one to the church in Ephesus, and one to Jewish believers in that time. These speak to all of us who are part of the body of believers. And this calling being discussed is a calling for all of us who follow Christ, not just ones on specific assignment.
We are called to a relationship with Christ, not just a role or task.
1st, we are called to a relationship (those He predestined, He also called…) And when we’re called into that relationship, we’ll live as someone who loves Jesus – living worthy of the calling, keeping our gaze fixed on Christ, and realizing that we’re called into a family of believers who share this calling. Understand that our identity is in Christ, not in our job title, the function we’re good at, or any other identifier – we identify with Jesus and are called to relationship with Him.
2nd, through our relationship with Him, we’re called to individual ministry- into relationship with others for the sake of the gospel. Mark 12 and Matthew 28 tell us of Jesus’ command to make disciples and to love God and people. God has given each of us a circle of people that we can influence. We’re called to this individual ministry to those around us.
3rd, we serve as part of the whole. Romans 12 reminds us that we fill a specific function within the body, working to accomplish Jesus’ ministry, but it’s a result of our relationship with Him.
Our identity, our primary calling, is into relationship with Him. He’s called us to love Him, love our neighbor, and to make disciples. He’s given us gifts to be a part of the body, and He will place us where He needs us. Our ministry is His ministry, and our passions and heart will be aligned with Him as we know Him better.
We are all called to the mission of people
Depending on how you’re gifted, you may not feel like you have a direct impact on people, even if you’re serving somewhere within the body. Maybe you serve in more of a support or behind-the-scenes role, and don’t feel like you have much touchpoint with people who need help or don’t know Christ. Individually, we all have opportunity to share Christ, and collectively in the church body, we are getting after that mission as well. But we’re all called to the same mission. Our focus is people: to love, serve , support, and show them Jesus. We need to see past the function and task that we fulfill and see the people that are impacted by that role we play. That’s when we truly understand what we’re doing – what each of us individually are doing to serve and minister to people. Our passion, drive and excitement should center around how we minister to people. The tasks are just the tools for making that happen.
Success is based on the mission, not our personal achievements
Working toward the mission takes our focus off ourselves and focuses on what God can do through us. Take a look at Moses: He’d experienced success as the prince of a very powerful country. And yet, when He meets God in the burning bush, he gets called to a mission! Read Exodus 3:7-12. Note that God is doing the saving. He’s just sending Moses as His ambassador to accomplish it. God says “so I have come down to rescue them…” Then, in Exodus 4:10-14, Moses says tells God that he isn’t a great speaker and probably can’t do what he’s being asked to do. I love the way it’s worded actually – Moses timidly interrupts God to say “pardon me, but I really can’t do this.” God tells Moses “I will help you speak and tell you what to say.” Basically, I’m not worried about what you lack – it’s about what I can do, not what you can do.
It’s not really about our abilities. Those are given to us by God, but He doesn’t need our amazing abilities. He needs our willingness to serve. When we’re focused on serving, He’ll develop our skill and give us what we need. We’re called to relationship, not just to a role.
We have to see the mission as ministry to people, not just the task or role that we’re responsible for.
If we focus on satisfaction through the task or role, we’ll be disappointed. The satisfaction in the work itself will vary. Sometimes the tasks I do are fun and exhilarating, but sometimes they are tedious and boring. If I take the approach of “I should be doing more than this” or “this really isn’t using my talents fully” I’m focused on me, and I’m focused on the task, not the end result. We need to pull back the curtain of our own function and see the people behind that task who are being impacted.
Imagine a secret service agent complaining that all he does all day is stand around bored. He’s forgotten the important result of that action, which is serving to protect. Or imagine a concrete worker complaining, when building a new skyscraper, that his work is unimportant because no one will ever see the foundation – that the real work is in the glasswork or the painting. He’s forgotten the result of his function that allows that tower to stand!
Remember that before we’re called to a role, we’re called to relationship.