The concept of God’s calling, and in particular the concept that God has a calling for your whole life and for every area within your life that you have the power to know and follow, is one of the most important in the history of theology. It provides an organizing principle for understanding everything we do.
The wisest church teachers have historically agreed on three factors we need to consider to know the calling of God: gifts, blessing, and deep satisfaction. All three are necessary to a sound approach to calling.
Gifts are an important factor because God does not equip everyone to do everything (1 Corinthians 12). Don’t think too narrowly; anything that enables you to do something effectively counts as a gift. This means much more than just your “skills” and “talents” narrowly understood. Personal characteristics, ranging from physical endurance to empathy, are gifts that empower you to do things others can’t do. Knowledge, whether academic information or practical skills and “know-how,” is a gift. Experience is a gift. Relationships and other forms of social position are gifts. Even your personal history is a gift.
Cultivating blessing for others means doing anything that makes life better. Just as with gifts, don’t think too narrowly. Many people have a tendency to put their routine daily activities in one silo and then “things I do to serve others” in a separate silo. Because God made human beings to love and bless each other, we’re supposed to be spending the large majority of our time blessing our neighbors. That doesn’t mean expanding the “serve others” silo while shrinking the “routine daily life” silo. It means we break down the dividing wall and transform our routine daily lives by making it our goal in all our daily activities to bless others and make the world a better place.
Keeping this aspect of calling front and center is critical because it’s the only thing that keeps us from becoming self-centered in what we do. The call of God is always a call to serve everyone’s good, not to do whatever we feel like doing.
God has built human beings to enjoy the life he designed for them. He made us so that we experience a profound sense of fulfillment when our lives are structured toward meaningful accomplishment of good purposes. I’m not talking about mere short-term gratification, but a deep sense that you have built a life that is making a difference in the world. I call it “satisfaction” because it satisfies our spiritual hunger to answer God’s calling.
Among the three factors, this is the one that most often gets overlooked or glossed over. People are reluctant to think of natural human feelings of happiness as something central to the Christian life. But the joy of God draws natural happiness up into itself, by integrating deep satisfaction with God’s calling in our lives.
Deep satisfaction is the part of our human nature that provides us with a continuing sign of God’s design for civilizational life. The home, the workplace, and the community provide deep satisfaction when, and only when, we make blessing others our goal.
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Attribution: Perwira Saputra