“Do you have a calling?” Better yet, what is a calling and how do you know if you have one?
When I was a child, I had two dreams: I wanted to be a Mom and a Teacher. I would line up my dolls and my younger sister in our playroom into desk lines and teach them a chosen curriculum for the day
Later, I would feed, bath, and dress the same crew and ready them for bed. The same way any mother would.
And though there is much truth in those early years of who I have become today, does that mean those roles have become my calling?
I’d like to suggest the answer to that is no.
But before I get to the reason why, let me share with you the scripture verse that will guide our conversation.
It is Ephesians 4:1-3 which says,
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
The author of Ephesians, Paul, is making a huge statement here to the church at Ephesus and us as believers today. If you put this verse into the context of defining calling by our dreams or the careers we might someday fulfill, it would be a particular and finite use of the word calling. However, I don’t think Paul was implying a vocation, as much as he was suggesting something much more significant than that.
The Worth of Your Calling
I’d like to offer that the value placed on the word “calling” is much larger than we may realize. Check out the words prior to the word “calling.” Paul says, “live a life worthy of the calling.” The word “worthy” has a value associated with it that we can skim by if we are not careful.
When translated into Greek, the word “worthy” is axios. This means weight, assigning a matching value (worth-to worth), and my absolute favorite definition:
as the assessment in keeping with how something “weighs in” on God’s balance –
a scale of truth.
This statement implies that your calling is on a balance of the same equal value or worth to God’s truth.
I think it is safe to say, though it is important to us to have a vocation, Paul is speaking of calling that has much more worth than a specific job.
The Blessings of Your Calling
So what is Paul telling us about the calling that we have received?
Let’s go check out that word calling in Greek too. Why not, right?
(And by the way, you can do this on your own. I am using a great website called Bible Hub. I love it for all things translation. Little secret, I get a little geeked out about finding words that have a more substantial meaning in the Hebrew or Greek than what we use in English.)
In the Greek klésis means:
calling; used of God inviting all people to receive His gift of salvation – with all His blessings that go with it
Oh.my.goodness. I love that so much.
Do you hear what God is saying to you and me in the definition of calling? Oh to be able to speak Greek, always.
God is saying to us; I am inviting you to accept my gift of salvation, that one where I sent my Son, Jesus to live a sinless life. He lived fully man and fully God. Then He took on all the suffering and all the sins of the world so you could LIVE. And not just live, but live eternally with me in Heaven.
But that is not all! Oh no, there is MORE.
Not only do you get the gift of salvation which includes eternal life, but He also washed your sins away (you know that gossip you said yesterday, those little lies you told the other week, maybe that big sin you committed in the past). And if we stopped there, that would be more than enough. But He also clothed you in righteousness AND gave you ALL His blessings to go along with it.
Say what?! It’s like winning the 5.3 million dollar jackpot, and then them saying, wait there is more, and more, and more, and…
Because here is the deal, God’s blessings…they are abundant.
Which brings us back to why there is no way that Paul is only suggesting your vocation. You’ll find the same word in several other scripture verses where the use is broader. Here are a few examples:
Romans 11:29, NIV
…for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable
2 Thessalonians 1:11, NIV
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The Character in Your Calling
Now that we understand there is immense worth in our calling, there is a blessing beyond our calling; we need to know in what ways to live our calling.
This may be the most challenging part.
Because I don’t know about you, but what Paul lays down here are the ways you and I should exhibit, some pretty high standards:
He says in verses 2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“
Humble, gentle, patient, bearing in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…goodness, I am out of the game starting at humble.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but these are not natural character traits for me to accomplish every day.
And if you thought you might be able to get away with the “bearing with one another in love” let me just mention in the NLT it says it like this “making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Yeah, I’m out too.
So what are we to do?
Allow me to offer a few suggestions.
Living Your Calling
First of all, this is not a do-them-all-or-you’re-out deal for you Type-As out there. So take a deep breath.
Second of all, Paul said he is urging us to live a life worthy of the calling. In his urging, he recognizes the struggle. I mean, he is the one who talked about the thorn in the flesh, right?!
Third of all, we can use these as they are needed. The more we recall these words in our mind and speak them out of our mouths, the more they will start to be exhibited in our lives.
Making Your Calling Worthy
My words of the year this year are LIVE WORTHY.
When I felt God leading me to those words, it was out of the verses here in Ephesians. But months before that, I wrote a book, and in the sixth chapter, I talk about how we get stuck in comparison rather than building community. I used Ephesians 4:6 as my scripture of teaching.
God had planted the seeds for this scripture verse and then later was going to hold me to it.
A few months later, I was struggling with defining who I was as a ministry leader apart from my everyday role as the Founder/Executive Director of The Link of Cullman County. It can be a slippery slope when you lead something and allow your position to define who you are. And God led me back to these verses yet again, to teach me that my calling has nothing to do with what I do in my vocation. It has everything to do with how I live for Him.
So the way this looks for me: I take one day at a time.
One day at a time where I am learning who I am in Him. In that one day, I can believe for all those blessings that are part of the invitation of the call. Blessings which includes being humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love.
And then how I am seeking unity with others as I serve the world around me.
As I do that I assess if I am doing that with humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with others in love.
Some days I get some of them right, other days not as much.
But tomorrow is another day, and I will try again. And so can you.
Your calling is so much more than your vocation, a dream to be a something or a someone.
Your calling is how God created you to worship Him, serve Him, honor Him, and give glory to Him in everything that you do.
What Will You Do With Your Calling?
How will you start to live out your calling today differently than you did yesterday?
Comment below and let’s talk about how we can all live a life that is worthy of the calling we have received.