I feel as if God has called me towards church leadership in the future. I think this has been confirmed through words God has given me, what I suspect my giftings are and then just generally how things have worked out so far. And I know I’m not alone in feeling like that – of having a sense of what God’s plan for me is.
In the past you may have heard people explain what they think God wants for your future, and it can be frustrating in the present. In the past I’ve sat in situations thinking: “But this is what’s God calling me to – why can’t you see it and let me do this!” My time at university was a good example of this. There I was, doing a theology degree at one of the top departments in the country, feeling a calling towards leadership and preaching, and yet I didn’t speak once in a main meeting at my church. Today as I look back, I am so thankful for the wisdom my church showed.
What God taught me during my time at university was this: the ‘calling’ for your life is not ‘church leader’, or ‘theologian’, or ‘*insert own call here*’.
Your calling is to be a son or a daughter of God.
Your calling is to love Him with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” Luke 10.27, Matthew 22.37 and Mark 12.30-31, originally in Deuteronomy 6.5.
Your calling is to fulfill the Great Commission of spreading the good news wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. That applies as much now as it would in five or 10 years’ time. It applies while you’re at university, while you’re in the job you’re in now. Not just for the day when your ‘calling’ is fulfilled.
Your ‘calling’ does not define you. What defines you is that you are found ‘in Christ’. Your gifts and abilities are gifts from God to help you out, but they aren’t what define you as a person. God didn’t bring you into His family you so that you could do things for Him – God saved you so that you might know Him. I am a son of my Father way, way, way, before I am a leader.
But how does this all play out for now? I’m not dismissing the idea of understanding a more specific outworking of our callings; personally, I’m trying to walk more and more in the understanding that God has called me towards the Church, but I’m not sitting in my current job in a church champing at the bit that I’m not leading a church yet. Why? Firstly, it definitely wouldn’t go very well if I was and secondly, I know that God will be forming me so that when His timing comes to pass, I’ll be ready – even if I don’t feel like it.
I found Paul quite a helpful example. In Galatians 1 he retells his conversion story: he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, is given a pretty big calling – converting the Gentiles – but instead of rushing on blindly (no pun intended), he recounts: “I did not immediately consult with anyone, nor did I go up to Jerusalem [to see the apostles]… but I went away, Galatians 1.15-18. For three years Paul, possibly the most influential person in early Christianity, or even, in Christianity in general other than Jesus, waited.
Another example: David was anointed king of Israel, a pretty clear: “You are going to be king.” He heard this as a teenager, yet that he didn’t sit on the throne of a united Israel for 23 years.
Both Paul and David had a period of time where they weren’t their ‘calling’, but were being formed. You can read most of 1 Samuel to see how David was being formed.
For the present, spend time investing in what is of most importance: your relationship with God and how that affects you. Don’t let your ‘calling’ define you and frustrate you. Everything else – relationships and jobs – flows from your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Prioritise in the right things and chances are, the rest will follow on.