Sunday, November 4, 2012

Understanding My Calling - Part 1

My friend, Jim Robbins, and I have spoken on several occasions as he's encouraged me to determine my calling.  As believers, I know we all have a general calling which is to follow God and to love one another.  However, I'm convinced that each of us also has a calling which is very specific to our individual temperaments and our unique life experiences and we'll never be fulfilled until we discover that calling and begin to function in it. 

I'm reading a book entitled "Identity: Your Passport to Success" by Stedman Graham and I'm really enjoying what he has to say.  This book has led me to once again focus my attention on discovering more about my calling and to function in it more effectively.  For years, I've known that I'm gifted as an encourager.  My greatest joy is to encourage others and to watch as their lives unfold into greater depths of understanding of who they are.  Everything I do comes out of that desire and that's why I created this blog.  It's an outlet for me to share my journey of discovery with the hope that it will encourage others who are on a similar journey.

Over time, my calling has become clearer.  Greater clarity has come little by little as I've observed the circumstances of my life and how I've responded to each one.  There have usually been long periods of time between each revelation and, at first, that was frustrating but I now see that those gaps of time have enabled me to adjust to each new revelation and to begin to live in it more fully before moving on to the next one.

I love speaking and teaching but, as I pulled away from active involvement in a local church, those opportunities came to a screeching halt.  After a time of inactivity, I became disoriented and very frustrated.  At one point, the frustration was so great that I wrote to Wayne Jacobsen to ask his advice and I told him that I felt like I needed to be doing something.

I'll never forget his response.

He said that the desire to be doing something is a tentacle from the religious system and that if God wanted me to do something, he would clearly tell me what it is rather than giving me a vague feeling that I should be doing something.  That made sense so I didn't follow through with my plans at that time.  However, the feeling was still strong so I eventually became involved with a para-church group.  Although I enjoyed getting to know the other ladies in the group, I found that I was compromising more and more what I was now coming to believe and finally I just couldn't do it anymore.  The stress was too great so I made the decision to resign my position with the group.

After leaving that group, I went back into a time of inactivity.  It was frustrating in some ways but, as the tentacles of the religious system loosened, I became more comfortable with the quiet.  As I grew more settled in my heart, I actually began to enjoy my time of rest since I was now free to set my own schedule and to do more of the things I enjoyed doing.  Also, because I was freed from dealing with the frenzy of religious activity, God was able to work in me inwardly without all of the distractions.

Some recent events have brought me back to once again focusing my thoughts on my calling.  Several weeks ago, I had dinner with a very close friend who is on an amazing journey.  She is a woman who lives from her heart and she does it while actively involved in the institutional church.  At times, I've wondered why she's been able to make such a huge impact in the local church she attends while I haven't.  Feeling guilty, I've  wondered if maybe I needed to follow her example and become more actively involved once again.

However, my role has now became more clear.  Although it's true that when I've tried to share with people who are still in the institutional church, there's been no interest in what I've had to say, it's been totally different with the church who is outside of the institution.  Those believers seek me out regularly and it's not unusual for me to get an email from someone I don't know who wants to talk to me about what's going on in their life.  Also, because I moderate the forum on the Free Believers Network website, I have an opportunity to provide a place where believers who are outside of the church system can meet with others who are on a similar journey and can share their stories and discuss what they're learning.

I believe my friend and I have a similar calling which is why we're able to support and encourage one another.  Neither calling is better nor more spiritual than the other but each one has been tailored to fit our unique temperament and life experiences as well as provide maximum fulfillment.  While she's called to encourage those who are still part of the local church and to help them understand this amazing grace that we've been given, I'm called to do the same for those who are outside of the institutional church.  They are the ones who are drawn to me and who actually want to hear what I have to say.  However, although our callings are similar, they're not interchangeable.  She wouldn't be fulfilled in my calling and I wouldn't be fulfilled in hers.

This is clearly described in Proverbs 18:16 in the The Message Bible where the writer says, "A gift gets attention; it buys the attention of eminent people."  My unique gifts and calling get the attention of the people who I'm called to encourage . . . the believers outside of the religious system.

My friend also shared with me the following quote which has further re-enforced my understanding of my calling.  "Go where you're celebrated, not where you're tolerated." (Paula White)

What an eye opener!  My calling will become clear as I see who receives me and what I have to say with enthusiasm and then that's where I need to focus my time and energy.

The apostle Paul also had to grow in this understanding because when he attempted to speak to the Jews, all he received was persecution and abuse.  However, when he spoke to the gentiles, he was received with enthusiasm.  He finally realized that his calling was to the gentiles and he declared to the Jews that from that day forward, he would go to the gentiles.  He recognized his calling and went where what he had to say was accepted and his ministry took off.  So, if it was important for the apostle Paul to discover his calling, how much more important is it for us to discover ours.    

In my next post, I plan to discuss the benefits of discovering and functioning in your individual calling but, for now, I want to leave you with two quotes that I hope will encourage you as you seek to move forward in the calling that God has given you.  

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." - Steve Jobs

"Go where you're celebrated, not where you're tolerated." - Paula White

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