Career or Cause?
And so we come to the impact the meaning of vocation/calling ought to have on our lives. Unlike the way 'vocation' is often used in the mainstream marketplace it doesn't equate with a 'career'. A career is too connected with economic return. Vocation on the other hand is a summons to an activity in the world that is divinely inspired and directed. It’s a summons to activate love. From your conception God has invested in you gifts, talents/strengths, personality preferences and experiences designed to help you contribute to the improvement of the world according to His Kingdom values - His cause. Without getting too self-helpish, you really are God’s gift to the world! You have a unique contribution to make and a responsibility to find out what He’s asking you to do. As His love flows through you it will express itself in unique ways via your unique abilities to lovingly help repair the sin damage around you. Now that's a cause worth dying for - tens of thousands of Jesus followers throughout the ages and even today are proof of it.
I like to define love as “a compassionate intentionality to bless”.
It is action that is motivated by something deep inside of your being and consciously brought into reality, leading you to do God-inspired good. That motivation is indicative of your calling. It grows out of an innate sense of purpose. It’s different for everybody, but few ever bother to go looking for it. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:14). True life is living true to your God-given purpose: your calling. Only in Jesus can that be properly fulfilled. HE is the gateway to life.
|Hongi: A traditional Maori greeting. |
The sharing of breath or life force with one another
to create relationship bonds, to cement unity.
Discovering your vocation was never meant to be a solo activity. Unlike Buddhism, which encourages adherents to separate themselves from intimacy with others, Christ requires his followers to make deeply intimate connections with others. Only then can they help you discern your calling. Only people who know you well can reflect back to you who you are. As the Maori do when the greet with noses pressed (Hongi), Christians are expected to share each other’s breath.
If it helps, I think of a calling as “a supernatural conviction that grows over time, confirmed by the community of God’s people, Scripture and circumstance towards loving involvement in extending God’s influence in the world.”
You can spend a lifetime refining your call but it becomes apparent very early. If you don’t want to miss walking through the gateway to life, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you start questioning yourself like this…
“What do I love to do?”
“What sort of activities do I prioritize over others?”
“What things make me feel strong, enlarged, expanded?”
“In which activities do I lose sense of time and don’t care?”
“What do I think is wrong with the world?”
“Why do I feel so worked up when I see … happening?”
“In what ways do I feel uniquely able to help solve those problems given the chance?”
Inverse questions can be insightful too…
“What do I hate to do”
“What makes me feel constricted and closed in?”
“When does time drag on for me?”
“What don’t I give a toss about?” etc.
Then you need to get Godly people around you, who know you pretty well, people with some life experience and spiritual maturity who you trust to speak into your life. Ask those people to confirm whether or not your answers to these kinds of questions resonate with what they see in you. Ask them to suggest what God might be equipping you for. Keep in mind that some people will feel free to share their wonderful plan for your life, but if something synchronizes with what you sense God is saying to you grab hold of it and build it into the direction of your life.
So. What has this got to do with mission? Your vocation IS “mission”. We often equate mission more with location than vocation, but we must not conveniently extract location from vocation and ignore a crucial aspect of our calling. His calling includes a location (or many over time). You need to be open to the possibility that it may be somewhere different from where you currently stand.
Jesus said “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:4).
Follower of Jesus, as we cross the threshold into a new year the challenge for you is to take time to listen and seal that friendship with Jesus by reciprocating God’s karanga with “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8).