What is your calling? Why are you living on Earth?
Let me put on the table that we are all called. I am bothered by professional pastors who identify their call as something more special than others of different vocations.
We are all called. Period.
One’s call is no better than another’s. It is interesting to me to see how as churches grew in size and organization over the 300 years after following Christ’s death, this sense of pastoral call became elevated over the call of others in the body of Christ.
So regardless of who signs your check, what is your calling?
I have had about six completely different careers thus far in my lifetime, but only one calling. It surely has looked different in the different roles I have filled in churches, organizations, and ministries. However, my call has been consistent.
If your calling is defined as a role, eventually, you will be disappointed.
I work with a number of young pastoral candidates who define their call as identified in a role. In other words, they feel called to be a Lead Pastor, Youth Pastor, Children’s pastor, or however they label their idealized role. I believe this kind of thinking is why Covid was so difficult on many pastors. And it explains why there are so many bitter pastors post-covid. They no longer find fulfillment in their role because the rules have changed. If they had defined their call more broadly, when their role changed, they would still be able to fulfill their call. As we will see later, your call informs your role, but it isn’t the same.
I have seen another danger of defining your call as I have worked with congregations. Some of the most cantankerous people in the congregation were those who had defined their call to be a pastor, but for one reason or another, they were not able to fulfill that role. These ex or wannabe pastors are bitter because they have an inner angst that results from them not fulfilling their desired role in a church.
I also see the danger in defining your call as a role with those who retire from that role. They basically check out of Kingdom work. They think retirement means moving on from their call to play golf. I have no problem with playing golf. Well, actually, I do have a problem playing golf, but that is because of my inability, not because of the sport itself. The reason I struggle with this is because, in scripture, death is retirement.
Paul says in the last chapter of the last letter he wrote before he was killed, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4.6-7). Paul saw he had finished the race as he was dying, not when his support checks from the church at Philippi ended.
Paul’s call never changed despite being a pastor, planter, apostle, author, prisoner, evangelist, or tentmaker. His call remained the same through all of these roles.
If we are all called, how do we define our call?
Let me suggest our call is informed by how we are uniquely wired and the principles we find in scripture that guide the way we live. We will unpack that in the second week of January 2023. Until then, take time to search the scriptures for the principles that guide your life and identify how your unique wiring helps you fulfill those principles, given who you are.