By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
In last week's blog, What is God's Calling for You? we discussed that there were two kinds of "callings" in the bible--Primary calling and secondary callings. I spent so much time focusing on "Primary" that we only lightly touched on the very important secondary "callings". To say that this aspect of calling is secondary relative to the Primary sense, does not imply that it is unimportant. On the contrary, it is exceedingly important because it has to do with how we LIVE OUR LIVES....what we spend so much of our time doing. It serves as a "job description" of sorts for our lives.
Our Primary Calling is our "purpose in life", which is to love God with all of our being.We noted that it is vital that we keep the relational horse before the cart of service/ministry/work. We must always bear this priority in mind, especially as we begin our discussion of how to discover God's call for your life (secondary sense). In fact, the biggest stumbling block to devotion FOR God, is our fixation on service TO God. That is putting the calling (secondary) cart before the Calling horse (primary) THIS IS VITAL--everything we discuss today regarding how to discover God's call for you must flow out of our love for God...otherwise our secondary callings become idols. Or it can inflict immense psychological damage on a person..
A person dear to me is experiencing a terrible psychic/emotional meltdown, which has institutionalized them temporarily, because of retirement after a stellar performance in life-long career..Their entire self-image or worth was tied up in their successful career. Only God can meet our longings for security and significance. Perhaps to a lesser degree, some of you are frustrated, bored, scared.or bewildered due to not knowing what your calling is, or your secondary calling has pushed God to the margins.Perhaps some negative experiences have hurt you, or you are confused as to why you have not had an extraordinary revelation from God re your calling as some of your friends claim.
It all began my first year in Seminary. I am referring to my frustrating battles with how to determine with certainty if I was called into the pastoral ministry. You see, as a former Roman Catholic, it took extra persuasion/certainty to be convinced that I was called to be a Presbyterian pastor. And to be honest, I began to really get frustrated when numerous people in seminary spoke in glowing terms of their extraordinarily supernatural experiences of "being called to the ministry." I could NOT relate! I look back now, and I realize that much of that was perhaps sincere, but it was still self-induced hype...as is some talk I hear today surrounding one's call to be an exorcist.
One person shared with me today their frustration in determining God's call in light of the tendency to sensationalize. One can read anything INTO a weird dream or odd coincidence or confluence of events. Some folks are what I call "super-spiritual"--.meaning they tend to verbalize everything (including how they discovered what their calling was) in spiritually "over-heated" language. For example, I have heard folks speak of how God called them to be an exorcist because of a dream they had. A dream is a dream is a dream...and I do not know anybody I trust to be an expert dream analyst--as Joseph and Daniel were.Please stop making major life decisions based on some dream you had....unless it is supported with other, more reasonable, input.
First rule of thumb regarding how to discover God's calling for you is that it won't contradict a clear imperative in the bible. I do not care how much you sense God calling you to do something--if it causes you to disobey His Word, then He is NOT calling you to that sphere.This should seem self-evident, but subjective experience holds more weight than God's objective truth with many professing Christians.
Second, I do not think God has not spoken audibly for 2,000 years, so it would be foolish to wait for God to speak with you in that manner.The inner voice is a different story, but its subjective nature behooves us to be cautious in how much weight we put on it re determining discovering God's call.
Third, remember that there is no sacred/secular division in the bible when it comes to what God has called us TO DO.(don't forget, our service FOR God flows out of our Primary Calling--His love for us and our love for Him). God's first words to Adam and Eve were the Cultural Commission--enobling and sanctifying all lawful "vocations" or callings. Cleaning the toilets is just as spiritual as reading the bible or preaching. The larger point is this--we must be gripped with the fact that God delights in all our labor. The actual work itself (not just its potential witness power) delights God. The artist, homemaker or actor brings delight to God, regardless of its potential witness impact. When God peers over the rail of heaven and sees you absorbed in the details of being a police officer, carpenter, accountant (and so on), He smiles at what you are doing. Some folks see their "secular" work as necessary evil until they can get off and "do the Lord's work".. A thousand times NO!! If your calling is a homemaker then that is the Lord's work for you...as is crunching numbers for an accountant. And God smiles as much at this CALLING as He does ministering to tribes in the Amazon jungle. There are no"little people" in God's family.
The fourth key to discovering God's will or calling for you is is to realize that it is not OUT THERE...it is not outside of you waiting for you to explore and discover it. It (the key to discovering God's calling) is inside of you...how God wired you. He is ultimate craftsman with a purpose.He wired you a certain way for a certain purpose--so that your calling goes "with the grain" of your inner makeup and not across the grain. He is not going to call you into a field that you utterly detest. Let me here go into more detail about "motivated abilities".that I mentioned last time. Understanding what these are will be the single most important tool in discovering God's calling for you.
Motivated abilities (both words are important). What are you good at...perhaps really good at doing? (Not talking about being the best in the world).What ability/s has God given you? Have your friends and peers given you insight here? But, most of us are pretty good at something, BUT we don't particularly enjoy it. That is where the "motivated" comes in. What ability do you have that also really turns you on...gives you a deep sense of satisfaction? It seems to flow with the grain of how God wired you.
Let me be personal for a moment--I know that God has blessed me with the ability to write.I am no Pat Conroy, but I truly delight in wordsmithing. Honest feedback has been confirming. A false humility which denies all abilities is not helpful, but harmful. But (and this is important), I also thoroughly enjoy writing. I rarely get writers block, and if I do, it usually because I am "paralyzed" by too many choices of topics to write on! So, writing is my motivated ability.And it took a long time, but I see now how He specifically wants me to write...and what He wants me to focus on. God's callings for us may evolve as our life circumstances change.
Not everybody can do this--exigencies of life force many folks to earn a good living doing something they don't care for.....That is life in a Fallen world ...some folks will not be able to find a job that taps into their calling. But the key to a fulfilling career is to find a job that provides the best opportunity to habitually tap into your motivated abilities.If you have 3 job prospects, factor in (along with other needs) which will tap into your motivated abilities the most. Along with attitude, this is the main key to a fulfilling job/career...for you will be following your calling....going with the grain of how God made you.
Speaking personally, it helped me to have some personal experience as an assistant to my pastor to get my feet wet...which helped to finally confirm my call to the pastoral ministry. To the extent you can, try to get some experience at what you think God is calling you to do. Get feedback from trusted friends--and of course, pray!
Due to time/space constraints,I could not address some issues specific to those who feel called to the deliverance ministry. I do think that there is a consideration to bear in mind--maybe God is calling you, but wants you wait for awhile...and prepare in meantime.
"Seeing Ghosts through God's Eyes" (also in a Kindle edition)...please consider purchasing my book which uses science, logic, and the bible to analyze the true source of power behind paranormal activity.