27 May 2014 by Jason Law CM –
Every person in this world was born for a reason, and if that person is a functioning member of society, they have a position to play in it. This position, though, can be classified as either a career or a calling. In Chapter 5 of Gerald Sittser’s book, ‘The Will of God as a Way of Life’, he distinguishes between the two. He defines career as a particular line of work a person does after they have receive an education or training, primarily for the purpose of earning an income and to keep society running efficiently and effectively. A calling, on the other hand, is a God-given purpose to use one’s time, energy, as well as abilities to serve God in the world, and it has a deeper and higher place, derived from its theological significance.
Regardless of ability, job/social position, opportunity, or background, every Christian is called by God to trust, serve, and obey Him. It is a specific responsibility, as well as an immense privilege. The problem is many of us are confused and struggling with the concept of calling. The Faith@Work ministry was created to guide lay workers towards their God-appointed role in His Kingdom, and last Saturday, 24 May 2014, bro Lim Kah Hooi, the National Director of an International Marketplace Ministry, FCCI Malaysia, provided guidance towards discovering our calling.
The incredible thing about God is that He does not segregate us into rigid categories like a taskmaster. God utilizes our unique personalities and talents, and He has given each of us a calling that is uniquely ours, just as He has given us a unique set of thumbprints. Many of us seek our whole lives for the will of God, as if it is a specific thing, bounded by a rigid set of rules, but the fact is, when we're obedient towards fulfilling His calling in our life, we’re already following His will.
Bro Kah Hooi shared that in the process of fulfilling our calling, we often surprisingly discover we are doing what we are; it grew out of our temperament, our talents, and our experiences in lives. A calling is all-enveloping, regardless of whether you’re a full-time ministry worker or not; it is about everyone, everywhere, and in everything we do and we can be effective in it whether we’re in church or in a secular setting. For example, a businessman fulfills his calling when he uses his revenue to build up the Kingdom of God, and a teacher fulfills her calling when she does not just pass down knowledge but also instills a Godly perspective in and builds up her students as a person. Crucially, calling means living before the audience of the One. Discovering these aspects of life is a process, and bro Kah Hooi opened the class through questions on a person’s idea of calling in the workplace, their childhood ambition, and how it has shaped their lives and what has changed since then.
A calling consists of three inter-linked parts, shared by bro Kah Hooi through videos:
Passion (Our Greatest Desire In Life): The How of Calling
Examples of desire are having a successful business, sharing your ideas with others and having people listen to you, being influential, having lots of friends, having the courage to attempt things no one else can, and so on. Every person on Earth has desires in life. It is something we cannot run away from. It is part of our make-up, and it is what motivates us. As such, it is what determines whether a person is effective or otherwise in whatever they do. Sometimes, as we move into our calling, we may even be surprised to find how God employs some of our passions to align with His will.
The central point is not so much about our desire, but in how we direct it towards our calling from God. A rich man can use his finances to support the ministries of God or set up philanthropic and Christian societies to aid the disadvantaged, someone with great ideas can use them to think up of creative solutions to the world’s problems, having lots of friends can help a person to set up networks for the Kingdom of God, and having the courage to do things can help a person to venture out into areas of ministries that not everyone has the courage and faith for.
Giftedness (Ability To Bring Passion To Reality): The What of Calling
While Passion drives the How of Calling, a person has to have the gifts to bring the desire to reality. Every believer that has been given a calling by God has also been given different spiritual gifts. Sometimes, our gifts may not align with our desires, and God may have a different calling for us than what we thought at first, but in time, we will discover the foreknowledge and infinite Wisdom of God. Much of the time, however, we will discover that our deepest desires also accord with the gifts God has given us. A person whose greatest desire is to share ideas will often discover Wisdom as a gift, those who loves the company of friends will often discover the gift of Hospitality, and so on.
Bro Kah Hooi shared a lesson in how to discover our gifts through the aid of a video by Bill Hendricks, the President of the Giftedness Center, and a discussion guided by some questions.
Needs and Calling: The Reason for Calling
Ultimately, every Calling has a purpose and reason behind it, and our desires and gifts have to be directed towards God. Bro Kah Hooi shared from the passage of Esther 4:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther was living in a time when her people were being persecuted by an evil vizier, Haman, who had convinced the king to exterminate them. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, approached her for help. Even as a queen, approaching the king and trying to turn the king’s decision, was a dangerous thing to do, and as a beloved queen, she could have rationalized self-defense and kept quiet. But as Scripture says, God will just need to raise another person up from somewhere else, and she would have perished in a wasted life. God had placed her as a queen for a reason, and she rose to her calling.
While Christians have an Eternal destiny through Christ, and we shouldn’t limit ourselves to this Earth, we were placed here for a purpose. There are many needs in the world, and for each need, God has given a calling to each of us. However, a need does not constitute a calling. In order to discover that, we have to first have a relationship with God and know ourselves (our passion and our unique gifts), and then utilize them towards a need and a heart that God has given to us. Every Christian has been given a calling by God. If every Christian were to fully discover this calling, we can be a mighty force for God.
Some questions for thought:
Look within ourselves to ask what motivates us?
What are our gifts?
How has your life experiences shaped you and what did it taught you?
Where are the needs and opportunities?
Is there a community that we can share our talents with?
Is there joy in service?
Faith@work is conducted once a month in DUMC. The next meeting will be held on 27 July (Sunday), 12-3pm, at DUMC Hall 3. It will address the topic of 'Finding Equilibrium in Work'.
References for pictures