Dawn Owens | Live Worthy | Do you have a calling?

Calling: How To Know If You Have One?

“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.”

Dawn M Owens | Live Worthy | Ephesians 4:1-3

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.

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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.

Your calling has more worth than a vocation. #calling #purpose #worth

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.

Philippians 3:14
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.

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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.

How to be Patient when you are Impatient

“I never pray for patience,” my husband said matter-of-factly. “For I know if I do, I am going to end up in a traffic jam.”

There is a bit of truth to that statement. I have the feeling, it sums up how many of us feel about the idea of learning patience.

The reality is,

there is only one way to learn patience: having times where you have no other choice but to wait.

And the risk we take is actually admitting we are impatient. I sure don’t like admitting that to anyone, at least not out loud.

Well, here lately, I have been having those “traffic jam” moments. Not just one. But, quite a few of them. Which has caused me to realize that God has been trying to teach me something.

LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE

In the last year, I have embarked on something new to me. I have entered into the world of traditional book publishing.

For years, God has been working on my heart, redeeming my past, and challenging my point of view to help me see how He has gifted me to write. This blog, in fact, became a part of my leap of faith in getting started with a public writing ministry again.

But God, was patient with me in my scooting around His truth, and after a few months of blogging, reminded me how He had laid on my heart to write a book about overcoming the addiction to approval, not start a blog as I had done.

And so I went, rooting out my old book proposal from years ago, reading it again and coming to the realization that it was actually quite good. Which was a totally surprise me.

And so I decided I needed to obey God to obtain an agent to get my book published.

Now in theory, that sounds wonderful. But, in practicality it is a whole different story. You see in the publishing world things can move at a snails pace. A book that you get sold now may not be actually published until two years from now.

But for the sake of my example, and how God taught me how to be patient when I am being impatient, allow me just a moment to share with you how this long, tedious process works.

First you need to send an email to an agent to query them on your book idea. Different agents have different submission guidelines but most of the time they either want an entire book proposal or the first few pages of your book. You can choose to do snail mail if you still live in the dark ages, but really an email works just fine.

Wait.

4-6 weeks later, get an email back that will indicate their interest. Check your email incessantly day after day, hoping, no, WILLING, an email to come back from said agent, all the while being slightly fearful of what their email might say.

Receive email. Hallelujah!!! Hear angels singing, scream at the top of your lungs. (Oh wait, maybe that was just me.) Decide if I you should open email with friends or alone where no one can read the rejection with you.

You will know almost immediately whether or not they are interested. Agents are also writers, and they typically get to the point. Why dilly-dally.

Honestly, I think this process is to really train you for the long haul. I mean, it’s like becoming a runner. You don’t do a marathon before you run a 5k. In the book-publishing world, you need to be ready for the marathon; this is training for the long, hard race.

Back in January was when this all began. It took three different email inquiries to find an agent who showed interested. Hallelujah! I may or may not have screamed out loud in my office by myself, with no one around to say whether or not it happened. I plead the 5th.

But, because I am an unpublished author, the agent requested I write the manuscript before he’d consider signing me. Sigh. Hey if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Wait again. This time you are working frantically while you wait, because now you must produce the very thing you said you could. But nonetheless, it feels like a long drawn out wait because you won’t get an answer on representation until the manuscript is done.

And I don’t know about you, but I can’t produce a 50,000-60,000 word manuscript to perfection overnight.

Now fast forward a few months. Writing. Living. Writing some more.

During that time I decide I am going to attend a writer’s conference where I can pitch my idea to other agents (it’s a free market) and editors from various publishing houses. While also making contacts, learning how to write better and eventually market said book.

Good news! Conference went really well and had lots of interest.

Get home from conference to follow up with everyone I met with to send book proposals and thank you notes.

Email. Email. Email some more. And wait.

A few were quick to return responses within a week.

However, others, well, that is where the waiting patiently muscle has to be flexed.

Week, after week, after week, after week…nothing.

So now it’s been 9 months since I first started sending out the book proposal to agents and I have not signed with an agent, yet still have three I am waiting on response from. And an email inbox just waiting to receive their email.

Sigh. If only we could will an answer.

Oh and prayer? Yes, ma’am, pretty please, and believe me you there has been a lot of that going on.

DO THE OPPOSITE OF PATIENT

But these past few weeks I started to realize something about myself. I no longer having an internal struggle of impatience; it started erupting out of every part of me.

My arms would start flailing as I passionately expressed my challenges with this industry and process. My voice would get louder. I sometimes sounded, angry. Angry? Where did that come from? I mean, the view from the outside may be that of a child, throwing a fit.

Not me! I wouldn’t do that. Sigh. Blush. But I did. Oh yes I did.

So this week I reflected on the feelings being expressed during the wait. First of, I recognized how irritated I had become. Even offended, at times. It didn’t help that I compared their lack of response to other agents I was communicating with recently. Then there was the moaning, complaining and then my moments of venting annoyance.

And here is what the Holy Spirit, in my seeking said to me. Okay, really the Holy Spirit did not speak in an audible voice from heaven. It actually came from a colleague…but oh I knew it was Him as soon as she said it.

Here is what she said, “Do you not trust the Lord to supply the right agent at the right time. I mean, He got you this far. He’s not going to let you down now.”

Ouch. Anyone else have a friend like that? Man are they annoying.

But truly, we all need friends like these who listen to the Lord and are not afraid to share a fresh word of truth to us.

She was right. God was right. I was not trusting. My response was immature and completely impatient.

SURRENDER AND TRUST

The Lord’s intent was to teach me patience, however, I did the exact opposite.

But I learned an important lesson in this and maybe it will help you too.

The only way to learn patience when you are impatient is: surrender control and trust the Lord.
It’s doing the exact opposite of the thing you are doing. You see, I was playing tug-o-war with the Lord. I am a Bible-believing Christian. I do my quiet times in the morning. I spend time praying throughout the day.

Many times I would say to myself “I trust you Lord. Whatever you want Lord, I trust you.”

But I was taking it back. Every time I asked the question, why haven’t I heard yet? Every time I wondered if they had forgotten about me. When someone would ask how the process was going, it felt like salt in the wound, I wanted to be able to say I had an agent, a book contract the whole shebang.

You and I may believe God’s timing is perfect, but are we really surrendering our plans, our dreams, and our goals to allow Him to work them out in His timing. Or are we playing tug-of-war with our emotions, when the reality is we really aren’t in control.

So here is what I did. Maybe it is what you need to do too.

I went home. I picked up my laptop computer and I placed it in my hands. I literally lifted it off the table. You see, most days my hands are typing on the keyboard, holding it into place, keeping it under my control. But that night, I gave it all over to the Lord.

I repeated what Job said after he lost everything, “The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

His timing is perfect. His plan is already in place. Do you trust Him?

The only way you are ever going to be able to show patience in the midst of impatience is if you surrender it all and trust Him to do the work He is more than capable of doing. Let Him be your advocate. And lay the rope down.

What are you struggling with right now that is making you extremely impatient? Is there something that represents what are you are struggling with that you can use as you surrender and trust the Lord?