Every Christian wants to know what their calling is from God. However, this question is perhaps one of the most difficult to answer for a variety of reasons: you have to know you are actually hearing from God, you have to know the Scriptures to make sure your calling is congruent with truth, you have to be flexible enough to know who you are today is not who God will make you into five years from now, and you have to be humble enough to accept that your understanding of God’s calling on you will progress and even change throughout the years.
So how do we know what our calling is from God? It helps to break this questions up into two parts: 1. What always is your ultimate calling? 2. What is your specific calling in this season of life?
What Is Your Ultimate Calling from God?
Question one is rather simple to answer biblically. Every Christian’s ultimate calling is to love God, obey God, please God, serve God – in short, glorifying God is your ultimate calling. Wherever you are at in life, whatever skills you currently possess, whatever opportunities are available to you, glorifying God is your purpose.
The confusion sets in when we begin to seek how to accomplish this ultimate calling from God in specific and individual ways. Each Christian has a spiritual gift, and some of us have the same spiritual gifts as each other. But none of us are the same person. We all have different personalities. Christian ministry is simply expressing God’s spiritual gifts in individual, personal ways.
I may have the spiritual gift of teaching, but they way I express this gift in writing will be different than how you may express this gift through a video podcast or preaching. My mom may have the gift of hospitality and expresses this gift through hosting borders at her house. You may also have the gift of hospitality, but you might never consider letting someone live in your house for an extended period of time. Nick may have the spiritual gift of administration expressed in his ability to organize teams of people, but you may have the gift of administration and yet you can’t stand working with volunteers.
So how do we know how we should individually express our spiritual gifts? How do we know what our current, specific calling is from God?
Your Calling from God Will Be a Passion of Yours and Profitable to Others
Doing what you enjoy without helping other people is a hobby. Helping other people without doing what you personally enjoy is just a job. Your God given calling intersects at the place where your passion and other people’s profitability meet.
To have a powerful, impactful, and sustainable ministry, you have to find the place where your desire satisfies a real need in the world. If all you do is think about what you like to do and in the process no one is helped but you, that is not a real calling from God. If, however, you are benefiting a lot of people but you are miserable in the process, that too is not a calling from God.
While it’s good soul care, it’s not healthy to go on a hike by yourself and think this is your calling from God. It’s good self-care to paint a picture that will only be displayed in your house, and it’s biblical to enjoy the company of friends to simply enjoy them, but if our joy terminates on us and doesn’t benefit others we have not found our Christ-centered calling.
It’s also necessary at times to fulfill service roles that don’t exactly give you the best opportunity to express your specific gifts and passions. Sometimes a disaster hits and you just need to roll up your sleeves and serve people, even if your best skill is to organize or teach or offer wisdom or give money generously. If there’s rubble in the streets trapping people, you need to go pick up that rubble even if you don’t like physical labor.
With all that said, if you just do a ministry that is helpful to others but you’re not that equipped to do it, eventually you will get burned out. And if you just sit alone doing some hobby you personally enjoy, eventually you will feel so purposeless and useless the hobby will become a curse.
The place where God is calling you is the place where your passion and productivity meet. If you enjoy doing something and when you do it you produce good fruit for God that actually benefits people, odds are that is a your current calling from God.
Paul proclaimed, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). His passion was preaching. People benefited from his preaching. Thus it was clear preaching was his calling.
Your Calling from God Is Always Fruitful, Not Always Financially Successful
It’s great when you can be paid to do your passion in life. But just because you are not getting paid to do what you love does not mean it can’t be your current calling from God. Likewise, just because you can do certain things so well that people are willing to pay you, this is not a guarantee that God is calling you to continue in this endeavor.
Careers are good. It’s good to make money. Sometimes God blesses you with a career that is totally unrelated to your calling, passion, or spiritual gift from God. Later in life you might discover you have a heart for pastoring people, but early in life God may have led you to become an accountant. This scenario does not mean you missed God’s calling for your life because now you are stuck without a seminary degree, you have a family to support, and you can’t do what you need to do to be a pastor.
Even if you never are paid to be a pastor, you can still keep your job as an accountant and fulfill your calling from God. You can express your pastoral gift without having the office or title of pastor. There is no limit to the examples of how you can pastor other people: counseling a friend, leading your children, facilitating a small group Bible study, teaching a class, mentoring some younger men.
You can apply the above example to whatever it is you have a passion for. Don’t let your lack of a paycheck be an excuse to not fulfill and enjoy your calling from God.
You Will Know Your Calling from God When Other People Know It Too
If no one on planet earth thinks your gift is teaching, then you probably don’t have the gift of teaching. If no one would ever ask you for advice, you are probably not equipped to be a counselor. If you are the last person someone would come to when they are in a financial pinch, your probably don’t have the gift of generosity.
God has placed each individual Christian in the midst of the church, which is the collective group of Christians. The natural and normal way for people to know their calling from God is for it to be confirmed through multiple other Christians. Your gift will be recognized by others when they are benefitted by it or when they see it expressed in your life. In short, you can’t be the only person to know what your true gift from God really is (1 Timothy 4:14-16).
How to Know What Your Calling Is from God
Certainly there are many more ways to know what your calling is from God. Knowing your calling, however, starts with knowing what your gifts are. You then have to discover what passion you have for expressing these gifts. Lastly, you must make sure other Christians can confirm the fruitfulness of your life when you walk in your calling.
These are just a few biblical ways you can know what your calling is from God. Ultimately, you have to read the word of God, pray, and trust that the Lord will reveal and confirm what his specific calling on your life is right now.