I feel like I need to start this post with a BIG disclaimer: I’m not God.
Big surprise, I know 😉
But I mean this in all seriousness: I can’t tell you what your calling is. Only God can.
He’s the One who created you. He has a purpose for your life – I just want to help you navigate what He’s already trying to reveal to you.
Trying to Find My Calling as a Twenty-Something
For those of you who may not know my story, I’ll give a brief overview because I feel like I was a professional “purpose-seeker” for a good chunk of my twenties.
Here’s what I mean…
Growing up, I did all of the “right” things that everyone else told me to do. (Note: I wasn’t a believer then, so this meant I was listening to everyone except God).
Here’s what that looked like for me: I got all A’s. I was student council president. I went to a prestigious university. I got super involved with extracurriculars. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I got the coveted Management Consulting gig.
I was so used to be on the standard “conveyor belt” of what society told me I should be doing, that I woke up as a 23-year-old new grad wondering how in the world I got there. I just kept asking myself, “I worked that hard for this?” I knew there had to be something more.
Pete and I had started dating at that time and he was feeling the same way, so we started a blog called Quarter for Your Crisis. Our goal was to start a conversation around this “quarter-life crisis” we found ourselves in and try to figure out how in the world you were supposed to find your purpose.
We read the Alchemist and told everyone about it. We left our jobs and lives in NYC to backpack South America. We started businesses and tried to find our purpose in everything we were building and accomplishing.
Looking back, I joke that I tried to find my purpose in everything this world had to offer…. And Jesus was just sitting back, waiting for me to come to Him.
Now, I know the truth: there’s no purpose to be found outside a life lived with Jesus at the wheel.
How Do You Find Your Purpose?
Oh boy. This is the question I asked myself a ton.
Finding your purpose or calling seems like such a BIG thing. Like there’s only ONE thing we are called to do – and we better find it – or else…
So how in the world are we supposed to figure it out?!
I certainly wasn’t making any progress trying to do it on my own… and I’m guessing maybe you’ve felt (or you’re feeling) the same way?
Well, the good news is: you DON’T need to figure it out on your own.
Praise. The. LORD. 🙌
So let’s dive into how in the world we navigate this whole calling thing…
Discovering Your Heavenly Calling
This past fall, we had a guest pastor, Jim Laffoon, share a message to our church on the topic of Discovering Your Heavenly Calling.
Jim is an incredible leader in our church community, and he’s actually the FIRST person we heard preach at our church, so I always love learning from him.
I was really encouraged by his message. He just did such an amazing job breaking down what our calling is and how to figure it out – so I’m going to attempt to summarize his message for you (and what really hit home for me).
If you want to listen to his entire message yourself, I highly encourage you to add it to your watch list (Jim starts his sermon around 43:20):
Our God-Given Purpose
Jim started his message by sharing this verse from Ephesians 2:10 (ESV): “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”
Quite simply: We were created for work – but not just any work, good works. Work that God has called us to do. Work that He has prepared for us ahead of time.
We have been appointed to serve God in some way. That part you have to play – no matter how insignificant it may feel to you – is integral to what God is doing.
So how do we figure out what that purpose is?
Our General Calling as Christians
In his message, Jim says that we all have both a personal calling and a general calling.
In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul is talking about how we’re all called to experience heaven on earth now through God’s presence and Word. We are all called to be disciples and make disciples. This is our general calling.
I don’t know about you – but this is what always tripped me up as an entrepreneur. I felt like that was my ONLY calling, and so was I really serving God or living out my calling if I was building my own business?
Knowing that we all have this general calling, but that we ALSO have a personal calling, gave me such a sense of purpose and freedom.
This was the biggest A-HA moment for me!!
Figuring Out Our Personal Calling
So if we all share a general calling, how do we figure out our personal calling?
Your personal calling is something that God has anointed you to excel at. It’s the reason you’re here. God has something special He’s calling you to do or be.
So let’s take Paul as an example. Paul was called to be an apostle. He wasn’t just born to be a tentmaker (that’s his vocation, I’ll explain the difference in a minute!).
But that’s Paul, right? It’s easy to think that Paul has a special calling, but what about us?
We’re no different. God has given you a personal calling. Maybe it’s to be a doctor, or an educator, or a craftsman. Each of these callings is different, and none is less sacred than another.
Here are a few questions to ask to help discern your personal calling:
- What are you anointed to excel at?
- What are your gifts (not just talents, but Spirit-given gifts)?
- What are people affirming in you?
One of the points I loved about Jim’s message is that Jesus didn’t tell Paul what He was going to do. Instead, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and told him to go into the city.
Little did he know there’d be a man there who would be willing to risk his life and actually help the man who was persecuting Christians. Anonais’ obedience in following God’s call on his life is what unlocked Paul’s own calling and destiny.
Of course, Jesus could have explained everything to Paul, but instead, He chose to use His people.
He does the same for us. Finding your purpose doesn’t just come in the presence of God, it comes in the people of God. When God calls, people confirm.
Vocation vs. Calling
Later on, Paul is in Tarsus as a tent-maker. He’s pursuing his vocation, but he’s lost sight of his purpose. The problem wasn’t his vocation. It was that he was only doing his vocation, and not living out his calling.
Have you ever felt that way? That you love your vocation and feel like you’re at the right job/company/business etc, but you still feel like you’re not living out your calling? Like you’re not truly using your gifts or serving the body of Christ?
Yep, me too.
So how did Paul start living out his calling and not just his vocation?
Again, God used people. Barnabas went to Tarsus to get Paul and bring him on a mission with him (Acts 11:25-26). Incredible things happened, churches were formed, miracles occurred – all because Barnabus believed in Paul and quite literally called him to action and into his calling.
When it comes to our calling, God won’t just speak to us about it Himself. He’ll use His people.
So here are a few more questions to ask yourself:
- What are people saying to you?
- What truths are they speaking over you?
- How can you serve and encourage those God has placed around you?
Living Out Bivocational Callings
If you’re reading this blog, I have a funny feeling you may be finding yourself in a similar boat to me. You KNOW you’re called to serve the church (whether that’s the “big C Church” or the local church or both), but you also feel a call to build a business.
I used to struggle with this a lot when we first started our business. Asking myself, “Am I really serving God if I’m teaching people how to run Facebook ads?”
I questioned and prayed a lot about if I was called into full-time ministry. It felt like that would be the only way to really serve God. But truthfully, I didn’t – and still don’t – feel a call to full-time ministry. Maybe that will change, but for now, I feel called to lead women in the realm of marketing and business.
It wasn’t until someone pointed out to me that Paul was bi-vocational that I really understood it. You see, Paul wasn’t just an apostle. He was a tent-maker.
Could your general and personal calling be the same? You bet. Some people are called to step into full-time ministry and they are employed by their church.
But for many of us, serving God looks more bi-vocational. It means earning our living by stewarding our gifts and talents, while also living out our general calling as believers.
My point is: you do NOT need to be in full-time ministry to be living out your calling.
We are ALL called to ministry, but for you, that may look more like marketplace ministry. It may mean that you are called to excel as an entrepreneur, or a doctor, or a teacher.
There’s something God has uniquely called you to do and called you to be.
So what is that thing?
The last thing I’ll share is this: you don’t need to rely on a blog or a teacher or a preacher to reveal your calling to you. If you’re still unsure about where God is leading you, simply ask Him. He created you for a purpose, and He wants you to live it out fully.
So now I’d love to know: what do you feel called to do? Share in the comments below!
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