Exploring Calling is for Everyone!
How do I know I’m fulfilling God’s plan for my life?
Figuring out this familiar question is part of the discipleship journey of continuing to discover more about ourselves. As Christians, we look to our Creator whom we believe formed us for a purpose; gives us a calling; and is our source of revelation and empowerment. How can everyone in our churches engage with a sense of calling – not just those who have chosen a pathway into a recognised ministry? It can be disempowering to see only this route as truly legitimate, when scripture clearly shows a huge breadth and variety of roles as integral to God’s overall plan.
The word HEART can be a useful acronym when helping others to find their calling. The letters each stand for an area of exploration, that when prayerfully considered and discussed with others, can lead to building a clearer picture of how God is calling each and every one of us to play a part in his Kingdom, whether in the workplace, community or other context. Indeed, we are the only person who can fill our individual calling and without us there is a gap!
H stands for Heart – what are your passions? What is it that you have a longing to see happen in the world? Is there a problem you desire to see solved? What makes you feel truly alive and fulfilled? This is your motivation and will be crucial to sustaining your calling. The heart also represents love, and we are to be ambassadors of the God who is love.
E stands for Experience. What have you been a part of in the past that could be useful to your present and future? Is it something to grow or teach others?
A is for Abilities. People can often write off their skills and talents and disqualify themselves because they have a preconceived idea of what is and is not valuable to God, the church and others. Reframing this is crucial to see all the possibilities available to a person, and therefore their contexts.
Included in this are spiritual gifts and scripture has many passages describing these. There are various questionnaires to help you identify gifts, however these can have varying effectiveness. Some find them surprisingly encouraging; but others struggle to evaluate themselves realistically. Asking folks who are skilled at finding the hidden treasures in people to get involved can be key here. This could be as a church ‘day away’ or as a house group study series.
R stands for relationships. To fulfil our calling, we need a balance of healthy relationships and to be part of teams that connect UP to God, OUT to others and IN to our church.
T is for timing. Are you in a training, waiting or ‘get going’ phase of your calling? Each season will have its challenges.
In my role as Pioneering and Planting Co-ordinator for the Presbytery of Glasgow, I encourage the churches to undergo a listening or audit exercise with their congregations as part of the discernment process in working out what God is saying to them. Sometimes exciting new correlations appear and match the listening being done in the community and contexts outside the church door – as well as the practices of listening to God.
How you use the insights generated by this discernment process can lead not just to individuals being activated, but to the transformation of our churches, communities, workplaces and society.
Let’s break open the definition of calling to include all, and grasp life in all its fullness.
Heather Thorp, Pioneering and Planting Co-ordinator – Presbytery of Glasgow