I have heard many Christians say, “My work is not fulfilling,” “I feel lost in the meaningless of the mundane,” “I feel like I’ve have failed God because I’m not doing enough for Him,” “I feel called to _____, but I feel like I’ve have missed my calling.” If this is you, you may be suffering from confusion and over-complication of the Christian calling. What does the Bible say about your calling? Let’s look at Jesus’ idea of calling as seen in His closest companion John.
WHAT IS A CALLING? [John 1:35-51]
In order for there to be a calling there must be a Caller. If there is no Caller, there are no callings—only work. When Jesus commands His disciples to follow Him, He is the Caller calling followers to a lifetime of worship and service. He is calling them to be a worshiper of One [primary call], and be a servant of all [secondary call] spreading the fame of Christ. Your calling is to follow Christ so decisively that everything you are, everything you do, and everywhere you go, and with everything you have worship God and serve His church spreading the name of Christ. Calling is the foundation of Christian existence itself. Calling in the Bible is a metaphor for living as a follower, worshiper, and server.
Whether you are a teacher with the TSC, a plumber in Pittsburgh, a mother on Monroe Street, a businessman, secretary, missionary, or pastor; your call is the same—worship God and serve the name of Christ through His church. Calling is not just for those in full-time Christian service, and everyone else is part-time or not even clocked in yet. The clergy-laity distinction was created by Roman Catholic Church, and a bad hangover for the modern evangelical church.
Martin Luther said, “God and the angels smile when a man changes a diaper.” William Tyndale wrote, “if your desire is to please God, pouring water, washing dishes, cobbling shoes, and preaching the Word is all one.” Bishop Thomas Becon wrote, “Our Saviour Christ was a carpenter. His apostles fishermen. St. Paul was a tentmaker.” Everyday ordinary work without a calling is simply work. Everyday ordinary work with a deep and devoted sense of calling is an extraordinary opportunity to live as a worshiper God and servant of the cause of Christ!
Christ gives your work meaning, not that you are working for Him [secondary], but that you are satisfied in Him [primary]. You are not called because God needs your help [Acts 17:24-25], or you need to payback God [2 Corinthians 9:8], or you need to do something for God [John 12:25-26]. You are not primarily called to something or to go somewhere, but are called to Someone.
WHO IS CALLED? [John 3:16-36; 5:19-35]
Every genuine follower of God has been called from Adam and Eve to Moses to David to John the Baptist to Paul the Apostle to Fred the follower living in a flat in Philadelphia. To Noah God said, “make yourself an ark of cypress wood…” (Genesis 6-7, and he had not even seen rain before). To Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12, and he had no clue where God was calling him to go). To Esther (via Mordecai), “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4). To Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1, and he was on a short-term mission).
The list could go on and on of people who were called by God. The New Testaments most frequent one-word description of a Christian is that he is called [2 Thessalonians 2:13-17]. These folks in the Bible are people just like you and me—ordinary people, wanting to trust the extraordinary God of the Universe, but not always under the most comfortable and clear circumstance. However, a common thread runs through each calling: proclaim the salvation of God through worship and service to the ends of the earth.
HOW DO I KNOW THIS IS MY CALLING? [John 13:1-17]
Jesus said so, and Jesus did so. Jesus’ calling was to worship God and service His name [i.e. wash feet]. He lived as the example towards that calling, even to the enemy who would eventually betray Him [i.e. Judas].
IS MY CALL SPECIFIC? [John 21:15-19]
The biblical call is specifically general: be a follower of Christ devoted to worship God and serve the name of Christ. It’s easy to swallow the fact that God has a macro-specific call, but you can quickly complicate and confuse the call by forcing a micro-specific call. God’s macro-specific and micro-specific plan for your life is to stay close to Jesus, worship Him [“if you love Me”], and serve Him [“if you love Me, feed His sheep”].
What about God’s calling Paul to go specifically to Macedonia [Acts 16:8]? Notice this “course correction” was given in the context of Paul’s active service in God’s mission. Then Holy Spirit tells the church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a church planting mission [Acts 13:1-3], but both men were already active in preaching and serving.
HOW DO I DECIPHER MY DECISIONS & WORK WITHIN MY CALLING? [Acts 13:1-5]
1) Seek wisdom in God’s Word. [Psalm 1:1-3; 119:105; Luke 24:32] You first learn how to hear from God by following His written word. If you can’t follow what He’s written in His word, chances are, you are ignoring the Holy Spirit.
2) Seek wisdom through prayer. Matthew 9:38 says, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to throw out laborers into His harvest.” The point is to pray. “If anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously without reproach, and it will be given him.” [James 1:5]
3) Seek wisdom in your church (4-fold ministry). Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors/teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” When you sit in a service like this, you’re hearing wisdom from God. He speaks through your pastors and spiritual leaders. Seeking wisdom and guidance from spiritual authorities is wise.
4) Live out loud the gospel. Most people find their world is a small zip code on this grand planet where a particular people group live who needs the gospel. Surrender all you are and have to the gospel of Christ [Luke 14:26-27, 33]. Don Alban Sr. [my ol’ missions prof],says, “Every follower of Christ is an immediate missionary for Christ.”
5) Use your spiritual gifts in conjunction with your church [1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; 1 Peter 4:11-12]. Work through the organism that God uses in this world today. Worship and service is funneled through Christ’s church. If you are worshiping and serving God through your church you can reproduce the same anywhere.
WHAT ABOUT THE HUTTS CALL TO GO TO UNREACHED OF NORTH AFRICA?
Sarah and I have believe we would be honoring Christ either by remaining on staff at BGBC just as much as we would spreading Christ’s fame among the unreached peoples of Arab North Africa [or any other nation]. We also believe we can be an extension of the ministry of our church in a land where there is no gospel influence. There are literally hundreds of unreached people groups around the world.
So why would we be burdened for a small region in North Africa among a small unnamed and unreached people group? Simply, God has called us to worship Him and spread His fame among those who are not. Our calling is about lifting Christ high, being Christ-like, and through His church serving the name of Christ to the ends of the earth.