What Are You Called To?
Do you know anyone nearing the age of 40 who laments that life isn’t what they thought it would be? Any men who haven’t arrived at the career peak they anticipated by now? Any women disenchanted by the hand they’ve been dealt?
Or what about any twenty-somethings who are paralyzed by what they should do with their lives? What am I called to, they ponder for years on end—sometimes well into their 30s and beyond without an answer. What was I made for, they ask, not wanting to settle for less.
Or even retirees who have finished their careers and arrived at what they expected to be their best season of life and are disappointed? Well this isn’t that great, they think to themselves, not wanting to admit that retirement isn’t all beaches.
What Is The Meaning of Life?
In his book, The Call, Os Guiness offers an answer to the universal and ever-looming question, “What is the meaning of life?” His answer is foundational, biblical, not fancy, and oh so instructive for followers of Christ at any stage of life.
Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him.
Our secondary calling considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him (p. 31).
Guiness argues that the order is of utmost importance—really, the first is our calling as Christians and the second is the various callings, or ways in which we personally respond to the first calling. The second callings flow from the first. The first calling, for believers, never changes. It settles in the moment we awaken to who God is, the moment we are saved and aware that all of life and creation is by him, to him, and for him (Colossians 1:16-17). The second callings ebb and flow according to our giftedness and circumstances and setting.
It’s All Grace
Both the primary calling and the secondary callings are gifts of grace. The reality that we are made by Christ and for Christ is a gift. We did nothing to conjure that up. He did it all. And our secondary callings are a gift. He is the one who set us in our time and place and he is the one who has given us gifts and skills and abilities. He is the one who gives us life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25). Our redemption and our role in society are meant to be stewarded on his behalf, for his glory and the good of all people—not for our personal gain and fame.
- To be created, known, redeemed, gifted, and set in a particular time and place by God Almighty who created the universe is a wonder. It’s grace. It’s grand. It’s far bigger than we are.
- Our life is worship. Guiness says, “the call of Jesus includes a summons to the exercise of the spiritual disciplines and the experience of supernatural realties” (p. 148). Our modern secular age claims that life is only what we can see and touch. Jesus says otherwise. He’s doing 10,000 things more than we can see—both inside us and around us. He calls us to rest in him and live by his strength, for his glory.
- In an age of overwhelming choice, the call of Jesus gives us focus. Ten minutes online and a seeker (for a job, for a house, for a hobby, for a product on Amazon) is overwhelmed by all the options out there. I know too many young adults who are stuck in a cycle of career-hopping because the buffet of choices keeps wooing them to better options. Our primary calling says that we can worship him and benefit our neighbors in whatever way our secondary callings take shape.
- Guiness says, “calling provides the storyline for our lives and thus a sense of continuity and coherence in the midst of a fragmented and and confusing modern world” (p. 167). Knowing that all is by him and for him and to him brings freedom. Jesus is the foundation, the center, the purpose. We don’t need to chase the wind for purpose. We already know him.
- “Calling transforms life so that that even the commonplace and menial are invested with the splendor of the ordinary” (p. 185). Much of work is drudgery and inconvenient and menial and boring. But the call of Jesus asks us to do it for him—for the Audience of One. We are called to steward everyone, everywhere, and everything for his glory.
- Our primary calling bids us to come and die in or secondary callings. Our work is an offering to our Lord. We lay down our lives, find ourselves in him, and do all of this renown, not our own.
Let’s Think Rightly About Our Calling
There are many pitfalls for us modern folk as we contemplate our calling. There are moms who feel trapped and unappreciated in their menial work at home. There are young adults who are paralyzed by choice. There are powerful CEOs who are unsatisfied in their immense worldly success. The poor, the rich, the educated, the uneducated—we are all susceptible to missing the call on our lives.
As Christians we are called to someone, not something—and that is Jesus. We are created by him and for him. Above all, may we abide in him. Following that, may we evaluate our giftings, skills, and setting and ask him how he might use us for his glory and the good of others. Let’s ask him how we might steward “everyone, everything, and everywhere” for his purposes. What is it that he wants to do in and through us right where we are? Finally, let’s rejoice in that and rest in that.
It may be dishes and diapers. It may be a degree in advanced mathematics. It may be in medicine or real estate or law or education or banking. It may be in construction or plumbing or law enforcement. Whatever it is, it is wonderful and worshipful because it is by Jesus and for Jesus.