Formed for Significance
Every believer is called.
First, we are called to follow Jesus. By the sea of Galilee Jesus found Simon Peter and Andrew and James and John fishing. He called them to Himself: "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "And I will send you out to fish for people." (Matthew 4:19 NIV) Our first call is the call to follow Jesus. It is a call to a relationship of faith in the Son of God that results in new life. Every believer is called to follow Jesus.
Then, we are called to fish. We are called to bring others to Jesus. We are called to make Him known to a world where many know nothing more about Jesus than using His name in vain when exasperated or astonished. "I will send you out to fish for people," Jesus said to Peter, Andrew, James and John. Our general call is the call to participate in God's mission to redeem the world. It is a call to show and tell others what Jesus has done for us in service and witness.
Then we are called to particular ministry. It may be a surprise to some, but every follower of Jesus is called to ministry. Not just Pastors or Missionaries. Jesus forms our hearts and our lives for significance in the place where He has placed us.
Some are called to significant influence in the home, raising children who love Jesus. Some are called to significant influence in the neighborhood, reaching out in love and kindness to neighbors. Some are called to significant influence in school, meeting peer pressure and even bullying with kindness and courage. Some are called to significant influence at work, caring for coworkers and serving with integrity in the capacity we have been hired for and trained in.
Sometimes we struggle to identify the more specific calling of God in how to spend our lives for Him. Identifying this calling begins even as little children when adults ask us, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We dream of being a ballerina or a teacher or a doctor or a fireman or...
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." — Frederick Buechner
Many school teachers have found their joy in loving children meets the need for children to be taught and to grow, and teach as a calling. Our son is finding his passion for helping and healing others is lived out in the calling of serving as a Physician Assistant. My own passion for the Bible and for others to know Jesus is lived out in my calling as a Pastor. It makes a huge difference when a business owner who follows Jesus is focused on providing employment and security for their workers as much as in making a profit.
God forms us for significance. And God will confirm His calling in our lives with signs that point where He is leading.
The Word of God will confirm that the direction we're headed is within God's revealed will. The office of Pastor is confirmed in Scripture as a Godly calling. Prostitute for Jesus, not so much.
Honest assessment of our abilities and passions point toward God's calling for us. I do not possess the physical skills to be a professional athlete, nor the grace of movement to be a dancer. Some people have incredible gifts of music or art or working with their hands or communication. These abilities and talents and passions can point us in one direction and away from others.
God confirms our calling in the feedback of others who know Him and love us. A heart-to-heart talk with a mature Christian friend can confirm or question a particular direction we think God might be leading us. In my own case, as I was sensing my calling to become a Pastor, my Pastor took me to lunch and asked me directly, "Mike, have you ever thought of going into the ministry?" His question and our conversation confirmed that what I had, in fact, been thinking was not just some wild dream.
God moves us in the direction He is calling us through opening and closing the doors of opportunity and circumstance in our lives. Closed doors can frustrate us, but they can also keep us from going down a path that God knows is not His deepest will for us. And God will make a way for us to follow Jesus into His will for our lives as we trust and obey Him.
Finally, God confirms His calling in our lives through peace in prayer. When the still, small voice of God's Spirit in our hearts speaks, confirmation and peace come to our seeking hearts, the lining up of these signs is finally confirmed and a sense of God's direction is discovered.
Every believer is called. Have you discovered where your greatest joy and the world's deep hunger meet? Are signs like the ones described above pointing you toward something new and bigger than what life has been so far? Follow Jesus. Fish. Live for significance. And God will confirm the calling, produce a fruitful life for His Kingdom and give you joy in the serving!