Understanding Your Calling
By Ron Matsen
With all that is going on in the world today it is difficult for Christians to know where they should be focused and how best to utilize their time and talents.
The apostle Peter began his second general epistle by issuing a challenge. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
What is Peter telling us to do?
We know that we are CALLED:
1. to become a Believer in Jesus Christ,
2. to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ,
3. to become a Witness for Jesus Christ, and
4. to become a functioning member of the Body of Jesus Christ.
We know that the Body of Christ is structured to equip us for our function. We understand from the apostle Paul’s teaching that Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
The real question here for most Christians is “How do we understand our place in the Body of Christ?” In other words, “What is my calling?”
Try these 12 guidelines for service:
1. Be Faithful toward God. Faithfulness sits at the core of any meaningful work relationship. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Paul instructed Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
2. Rely on the Protection of Divine Direction. Know that God directs the steps of His children. Remember, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
3. Dedicate Your Heart to Pleasing God’s Heart. Ask God to reveal His heart to your heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Make sure your heart is fully committed. “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
4. Open Your Eyes to the Opportunities around You. There is no shortage of ministry opportunities, only ministers willing to undertake those opportunities. Jesus told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
5. Don’t be Afraid to Venture into the Areas of Your Weaknesses. God is looking for Availability, not Capability. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
6. Follow Your Heart. This is an area of our character that can often get us into trouble. But the compass of your heart is True when it is directed by God. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”
7. Seek Ministry Partners. There is much strength in the Pattern of Pairs. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Again we read, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
8. Look for Divine Confirmation. Think of Gamaliel’s test concerning the ministry of the disciples. “And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”
9. Stand Firm in Your Calling. Stand firm, even when others may doubt or try to destroy your service to God. You will not be the first person to endure the questioning of others. “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
10. Try to be Transparent. Be a Reflector not a Collector. In other words, can you serve unnoticed? After all, if you are serving the Lord then His approval should be your only concern. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
11. Avoid the Pursuit of Power. Follow the example of John, the cousin of Jesus. “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Consider the confessions of Paul. At the height of his ministry he says, “I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle.” Yet, at the end of his ministry he declares, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
12. Give until it’s Gone. The nation of Israel was issued an interesting challenge by God. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Said another way, you cannot out-give God.
Ultimately, I believe Paul sums up the right attitude regarding our service before God. “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”