When it comes to questions about God’s will for your purpose, calling, or career, the first step is to know what these words actually mean from a biblical perspective.
Here are 3 biblical differences between your purpose, your calling, and your career.
1. Your Purpose Is the Same as Every Christians’ Purpose
While different Christian teachers use the word “purpose” in varying ways, when I look in Scripture, I see one’s purpose as the overarching goal for why God created you. When you ask the big question, “Why am I here?” or “Why did God create me?”, you are asking, “What is my purpose?”
As you will see, if you wanted to know your calling, the question is much harder to answer. But if you are asking what your purpose is, all you have to do is read the Bible. God’s primary purpose for you is the same purpose he’s always had for every person he’s ever created – to glorify God:
- 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
- Isaiah 43:7, “. . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
How do you glorify God? God is glorified when his goodness and character are made known in a visible or knowable way (Exodus 33:18-19). Jesus glorified God the most because he revealed God the most (Colossians 1:15, John 1:18). God made us for his glory (Isaiah 43:7), thus he made us in his image (Genesis 1:27).
Your purpose is to glorify God. This purpose will never change. And this is God’s purpose for every Christian.
For more on this, you can read my article, What Is the Glory of God According to the Bible?
2. Your Calling Is Different that Every Christians’ Calling
Like most words in the Bible, the context of its use will determine which definition of that word is being used. At many points in Scripture, the word “calling” is referring to your appointed salvation (Ephesians 4:1-4, Romans 11:28-29, 2 Peter 1:10).
But in our case here, we are not talking about the calling of election to salvation but rather your individual calling, which is “the task God is calling you to do.” A biblical example of this would be when Paul concluded that God had “called” him to serve in Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). It wasn’t every Christians’ calling to do this, and Paul had other callings from God too. But at a certain point in Paul’s life, he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to preach the gospel there.
God has purposed for us all to glorify him, but he will call each of us to glorify him in many unique ways that will change throughout the course of our lives. For example, you can be called to be a husband but then you may become a widow. You may be called to raise children but then when they are adults that calling will look different. You may be called to be a pastor and then a missionary and then a children’s director in a youth program and then a mentor to younger pastors.
In short, your calling is the unique and individual task that God is telling you to do to glorify him. You can have multiple callings at the same time and these callings can change throughout the course of your life. And while many other people might have a similar calling, we all have a different calling in some sense because each of the variables, people, places, and things will be different in each of our callings.
It’s my calling to be a husband to Bethany and it’s your calling to be a husband to your wife. It’s my calling to be a father to Logan and Noel and it’s your calling to be a father to your children. These are similar callings, but they are different callings because they are specific and unique to us as individuals, involving different people, places, and things that are only present in our calling.
You can see this clearly in the life of Peter and Paul. They were both apostles, but they were called to serve in two different ways, in different places, and have left different impacts (Galatians 2:8).
3. Your Career Provides You the Means to Fulfill Your Calling
In America especially, since we live in a corporate culture, we often fall for the lie that you are only fulfilling your calling if you are getting paid to do it. But nowhere in the Bible is this taught.
Sometimes your calling and your career will overlap, but it’s not necessary. In fact, the money that is often associated with a calling that you get paid for is actually not a part of the true essence of that calling. For example, while a man’s career may be the position of pastor, there are many men who are pastors of churches and do not get paid. The career side of being a pastor is only there to support the ministry side. Sometimes a different career is needed to support the ministry calling of being a pastor.
Likewise, it may not be your calling to be an employee at the company you work at. But that doesn’t necessarily mean God is telling you to quit so you can find your true calling. He may want you to work at that company until you retire because it will help you fulfill your calling of being a husband, father, missionary, ministry worker at church, and so on. And even in that career, God has called you to be light for him at that company.
So whether your finances are being provided through that role or not, the finances in your life are ultimately given to you by God as a means of supporting your calling. For example, sometimes Paul worked with his hands to provide the resources for his ministry (Acts 18:3, 20:34) and other times he was supported through the financial gifts of others (2 Corinthians 11:8). But throughout his life, Paul used those resources to support his ministry regardless of how those resources were given to him.
As you can see, your purpose, your callings, and your career are often intertwined but they are also different. Your purpose is to glorify God, your calling will be to glorify God in the unique ways he leads you to, and your career is a tool meant to be used to support your callings.
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