Before I became an Admissions Counselor at Grove City College in the summer of 2015, I served for close to 10 years as a full-time youth pastor. Over the years I had countless conversations surrounding some of the same questions and topics. One such question I was asked more times than I can count was to recount my calling into ministry. This particular question always provided me the excellent opportunity to talk about something I’m passionate about – the Lord’s unique calling on all of our lives, not just those of us called into the ministry.
Several months before his passing, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the TV show host, Fred “Mister” Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. At that time, he answered a difficult question so profoundly and simply that the answer still impacts my life today. When asked “How do I discern my calling?” everyone’s favorite cardigan-wearing neighbor responded, “Your calling is where the earth’s greatest need and your greatest passion collide.” This response helped me to discern God’s calling in my life and ignited my passion of helping others to discern their answer to this difficult question.
The first thing we need to realize when trying to discern our call is that our calling has two distinct parts. Often we get so caught up in the “What am I supposed to be when I grow up?” discussion that we ignore the first and most important calling on our life. In fact, when we read the Scriptures, the word call is used most often to refer to the one calling, out of which everything else flows – to participate in God’s redemptive work in this world. Christ’s last words to his disciples in the book of Matthew, more commonly known as “The Great Commission,” lays out this calling. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20 ESV) “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 ESV) Our vocational call is secondary to the call to be a part of God’s work here on this earth.
We see evidence for God’s call on each of our lives throughout Scripture but it is particularly apparent in Paul’s letters. Several times Paul compares the family of believers to a body. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul details the necessity of each part of the body, including those that may appear to be less important. God has a plan and a calling for each individual, and each person plays an important role in the body. As much as I love listening to music, if my body was made up of just ears I would be unable to taste and smell the delicious smoked chicken that I’ve been cooking for the past two hours. Each of us serves a distinct function. Though figuring out this function can be difficult and requires prayer and guidance, we can rest assured knowing that God has a distinct plan and purpose for us.
One last point on calling. We know God has called us to work. This can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and keep it” (Genesis 2:15 ESV). So, as you’re living out that distinct calling God has for you, don’t forget to honor Him in that work. Several times in my life, whether it be at a job that I felt was below my skills or while taking a required class I had no interest in, I had to remind myself of Paul’s words in the book of Colossians, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17 ESV). If we remember to focus on the One who gives us the abilities to fulfill our calling, He will give us the strength and ability to accomplish The Great Commission. Living out the various aspects of our calling can be exciting when we realize the purpose is to bring glory to God and to point others to Him. As you reflect on Mister Rogers words above and discern your gifts, talents, and passions and how this fits into the needs of the world around you, don’t forget to see it in the light of God’s story here on earth. If you have any questions or want to talk about this further, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
*Mister Rogers photo courtesy of www.fredrogers.org