Sunday, March 31, 2013

Understanding My Calling - Part 3

I didn't expect to be adding a part 3 to my "Understanding My Calling - Part 1 and Part 2" posts but recently I began to once again think about what I had written.  As I processed these thoughts, I gained additional understanding and I want to share these new thoughts with those of you who read my blog.

After I finished my last post, I spoke with a couple of friends who are still involved in the institutional church.  When I explained that my calling is to encourage those who are outside of the institutional system, their response was, "Can't you do that in the church?"  Their question caught me off guard and my response was that I need to stay focused on what I was called to do and not get distracted.  Although that's true, I don't think that's the complete answer.  I suppose I could try to encourage those who are in the institutional church but I've found that they're not receptive to what I have to say while those who are outside of the system are very receptive.  As Paula White said, I need to "go where I'm celebrated, not where I'm tolerated."

The truth is we can't just change our calling simply because we choose to and, if we try, we'll never be satisfied or fully effective because a calling is something that's been placed in our heart.  It must be awakened and once it's awakened and we begin to function in it, we can't just replace it with a substitute without losing a part of who we are. 

When I wrote my two previous posts, I struggled with using the word "calling."  Unfortunately because of religious overtones, that word has taken on a meaning that I believe is far from what it's meant to be.  According to what we've been taught, a calling is a commandment from God and since it's a commandment, we're expected to obey it without question regardless of how we may feel about it.  I've even heard people say that they knew God was calling them to do something because they didn't want to do it.  They believe that a calling has absolutely nothing to do with what they want.  God simply tells them what he wants them to do and woe be it for them if they don't obey even if they don't understand what he's saying.  What a terrible picture that paints of God!  That isn't a loving father; that's a perfect picture of an abusive father.

As a result, many people spend their entire lives trying to figure out what God wants them to do, fearful that they'll miss his perfect will and suffer punishment for their disobedience even if it wasn't intentional.  They don't understand that God has already put our calling in our hearts so it's not something that we have to seek.  It's already there.  All we have to do is follow the desires of our heart and it will lead us into our calling.  Then once we start functioning in it, a substitute will never satisfy.  If someone has a calling to go to China, they'll have a passion for that country and its people and they'll never be satisfied staying home or even going to the Sudan.  While there may be people where they live or in the Sudan who could benefit from their presence, they'll continue to be unfulfilled because the substitute will never satisfy the desire of their heart.  

Unfortunately, in an attempt to "serve God," many believers choose a profession that they believe will please God which is why some go into the "ministry."  Even though they may be miserable, guilt and shame will not allow them to give up.  Many of us struggle to find our calling and some will never discover it because we've lost connection with our hearts.   We haven't been trained to hear its voice so it's difficult to recognize the desires and the passions that have been placed in it.  

What is it that we like to do?  What excites us?  What are our passions?  It's important that we find the answer to these questions because until we do, our calling will remain shrouded in mystery. However, as we begin to re-connect with our heart, its voice will become clearer and our calling will no longer be mysterious and unknowable and we'll begin to live the fulfilled lives that God has made available for us.