Three Signs of Your Calling

First let’s get this out of the way: “Calling” is not a term exclusive to clergy. It applies to all types of people in all vocations, both as groups and as individuals. To see “calling” as only applying to some specialized spiritual profession the equivalent of Navy Seals is to cop out and risk being untrue to both yourself and us. 

You know in your heart you do not want a mere life driven by impulses and platitudes, and yet when you say, “I don’t have a calling,” that is the unintentional implication. And even if you truly believe you have no calling, yet in your heart you know that the perils of Mordor are a better destiny than the pampered Shire. In moments of inspiration you long to leave the Shire, for you have (to borrow Tolkien’s words) “elvish blood.” You yearn for something beyond just arguing over who will inherit grandma’s Sleep Number. You are called. 

The question, therefore, is: “What is my calling?” It might not be a Ring Bearer, but certainly  you have a part to play no one else can. What is it? What are some signs of your calling? My answer is not comprehensive, but here are three suggested signs:

Holy Ground by Colleen Briggs, 2014
  1. A conviction that burns apart from human persuasion.  
  2. A conscience that compels you in a certain direction.
  3. A community that encourages and completes those two things. 

Conviction: This is the fixed point of the fear of God within us. Although it dwells within the tangled bramble of our thoughts and sentiments, it is at the same time not us. Like the fire of the burning bush Moses beheld commingling with the branches, conviction burns in the midst of ourselves as a foreign yet completely familiar flame. It is a blaze that knows us through and through. In the same way that the Lord said to Moses from the bush, “I am, conviction is a little “I am” from Him within us. 

Remove charismatic leaders, catalytic events, and all other human attempts at persuasion: The flame still is. The flame remains, and no one but ourselves can blow it out or fan it into a bonfire.

Conscience: This is the compass by which we navigate after having encountered the Fixed Point. It is the sense of right and wrong, the governing grace in the “How” of a calling.

Apostle Paul, who knew the absolute acceptance of the Father and total forgiveness for grievous sins, nevertheless fought for a clear conscience not because of residual guilt but as a quest to break the tape on the marathon his conscience compelled him to run. 

Now I ask you: What is your marathon? Never mind if the world calls it sacred or secular;  significant or obscure; wise or foolish; magnificent or a mustard seed no one sees but the Lord alone. What, I ask again, is your marathon? Go and do likewise. 

Community: Because we are one Body in Christ, the full answer to your calling is hidden in His other members. Others may have information you lack. Others may provide opportunities to explore and develop your calling which you could not create yourself. Even better, others will see the blind spots and the blank spots in your calling, and, if they truly love you, will speak as much. Together, all these community elements — including the sorrowful ones — test and complete your calling. The result? Confidence you are choosing the one thing our Lord has called you to do and to be. Courage to run the marathon He has chosen for you. 

Callings do not exist in a vacuum. They are not solitary cross-country runs. All callings are, in the sense of our short lives, the momentary bearing of a torch in a relay. And yet, like each member of that relay team, your part is vital for all our sakes. 

Your calling is an irreplaceable and unique thread connected to the greater work our faithful Lord has woven us into. Your calling joins that which preceded you and will continue after your departure: that moment when you see our Lord face-to-face; that moment when He looks you in the eyes and says, “I know you! We did it together, didn’t we! Well done! Enter into the joy of which your calling was but a prologue.”

© Kurt Mähler

A Simple Three-verse Bible Study on Calling

Gather as a group of two or more. Read each of these aloud slowly several times.

Galatians 1:1 (NLT) This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

I Peter 4:10 (NLT) God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Colossians 4:17 (NLT) And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”

  1. After the scriptures are in your memory, verbally paraphrase them to one another. Complete what is lacking in one another’s paraphrase until you have recalled all.
  2. What is one thing we learn about calling in these words of the holy apostles?
  3. Each one asks the other: “What is one thing you can do within the next 48 hours as an act of humble faith that you take these words seriously?” Consider small steps and mustard-seed actions that others could reproduce in their own lives. Decisions on new habits and long-term goals will require more structure than given here.
  4. Once each person has done what they have said they would do, gather again and debrief.
  5. Now choose three more verses on the matter of calling. Conduct the same conversation again.

Grace and peace to you. 

© km

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  • Cody Clark says:

    Excellent catechesis, Kurt! And a timely reminder. Thanks.

    • Kurt Mahler says:

      Thanks, friend! You have encouraged me! Reflecting on what I have posted about “calling” not being exclusively a clerical domain, I would add that anyone who is indeed called to the clergy should be commended for their choice to be so and double honored if they do well. It’s a rough, no-glam gig!

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Kurt. Excellent topic for me. I’ve been seeking my calling but feel lost on a foggy ocean. Some where Paul said “to know the hope of your calling”. I need that hope and vision in my life. Your suggestions were very helpful. Thanks!!

  • Auxmos says:

    These LOTR parallels land like the mithril given to Frodo, beautiful and light yet strong and enduring. ❤️🤝

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