The gospel tells us that every believer is a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) and a child of God (see 1 John 3:1). It is out of this new identity that our sense of purpose and work flows. Knowing who we are is critical for knowing what we are called to do. The ability to discern our calling flows out of our relationship with the God who calls us.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” — 1 John 3:1
Talk about calling is often reduced to the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Yet calling encompasses far more than just the answers to our questions about career and occupation.
Calling concerns the whole of our lives. God has spoken to us through the Scriptures (see 2 Timothy 3:16) and ultimately through his Son (see Hebrews 1:2). Not only that, but also the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit leads us into truth and helps us understand who we are in Christ and what we were created and redeemed to do.
Most people try to look for the perfect job, one that not only lines up with their gifts and passions, but also gives them a deep sense of purpose and significance. In doing so, we are often tempted to see work as the source of our identity rather than the expression of it. But for the Christian, work is far more than simply a way to use our talents. Neither is work the ultimate marker of identity. It is a way for us to live out God’s call on our lives.
The word calling conjures up for a lot of people the idea of some mystical experience or a grand task to perform. But the truth is that calling applies to day-to-day life, not merely to “significant” or “spiritual” work. If we turn to God only during the big-decision moments of our lives, we forfeit the privilege of experiencing the Holy Spirit’s role of leading us day by day.
The doctrine of calling communicates a deep privilege Christians have in their restored fellowship with God. His guidance is a gift we should embrace each day, but this requires a dying to self (mortification) so that we can become more alive to his Spirit. The greatest gift in being called is knowing the Caller. It is this intimate knowledge that provides the insight and wisdom we need to make important decisions—both small and large—in our lives.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” — Ephesians 4:1
Study drawn from the NIV Faith and Work Study Bible.