As people, we have all been created with divine intent and purpose. We have, as image bearers of God, been given a mission and vision for who we are, who God wants us to be, and the impact we are to leave on the world.
Frederick Buchner one remarked, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Men and women throughout history have been answering this call, from Abraham who left his homeland for a promise, to Moses who found his calling while tending sheep in the desert. Ruth found hers while following Naomi home, and prophets have experienced a wide array of callings and call stories.
Modern-day prophets and justice seekers have all wrestled with how they can best use their gifts of deep gladness to meet the world’s deep needs.
Heeding the call
Every single one of us has the unique fingerprint of God at work in our lives. Our experiences, formative moments, family history, gifts, talents, passions and abilities shape how God wants to use us in the world.
The struggle for our calling lies in two areas: discernment and implementation. We struggle with knowing what our calling is, because often times our gifts can feel like a fish swimming in water: it’s all we know. Yes, we’re good at pottery, blacksmithing, poetry, dance, woodworking, engineering or math, but that doesn’t mean it’s a part of our calling, does it?
Maybe. Most often, it is these gifts and abilities, that seem so natural to us, that are the foundation for our impact and influence. God has given us those to shape and call us to be his mouths and hands for justice in the world.
Maybe we know our gifts, and are ready to use them, we just struggle to know where and how. Great, so I can make sweet nightstands out of recycled coke bottles, but who needs that?
Lots of people and places do. Maybe there is a need for your finished product in a trendy new coffeeshop. Perhaps the market is small, but the money it provides you can be donated to a cause or agency that you like. There’s also a fairly good chance that it’s your skill that’s needed. Take your ability to weld, cut, glue and solder and teach it to someone else, or a community in need. The end product is cool, but the community you can build during the experience is what’s vital.
It may not be the retreats or unique experiences where we find our call, but in the mundane and ordinary moments. When our eyes are fully open to the work that God would have for us, we can match our deep longings with the world’s deep needs.
Can I list specific areas of interest that appeal to me?
If asked to give a speech about what I am most passionate about, what would it be?
If I could communicate one message to the world, what message would I send?
Are there tangible ways to use this as a witness to the unique ways God has created me?
Can I name a group, institution or gathering that could use my skills?
Who in my neighborhood could benefit from what I have to offer?
What areas of interest am I weak at, that with guidance or mentorship could go stronger and use to benefit someone else?
Justin Hiebert is a Mennonite Brethren pastor in the Denver metro area. He studied Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership at Tabor College and completed his M.Div. at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He blogs at empoweringmissional.com, where this post originally appeared.