“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. . . . Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” Galatians 6: 4-5 (The Message).
Isn’t it interesting how generosity enlarges? It expands the giver as well as the receiver; the spiritual along with the physical, those directly involved and the ones around them.
In Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential (call number 248.4 Smi in the church library), Gordon Smith proposes that our generous God gives each of us a reason for being on earth, a calling, as well as the ability to work with Him in carrying it out. God longs for us to experience the joy of giving by loving each other through our calling. But understanding our purpose as it matures through life, and discerning how to live it most effectively, is challenging. Smith’s book grew out of many conversations around these questions, and is a study for those who want to invest their talents for God.
The book outlines three ways calling can be understood:
- The call to be a Christian, to follow Jesus.
- A specific call: a reason for being, or vocation, unique for each of us, which may or may not be expressed in our occupation.
- Immediate calling: specific duties and responsibilities we are given by God at the present time, such as caring for family members or job responsibilities.
Specific and immediate calls flow from our first call, our identity as God’s children, and all three are “in play” at any given time. For example, we are all called by Jesus to love others. I might express that love by feeding the hungry on an ongoing basis. If I have young children, I will have less time to participate in a soup kitchen than when they are older, but I will be living out my entire calling by not ignoring any of the three at each stage of my life.
The primary focus of this book is on the second call, and discusses three aspects of vocation: knowing ourselves, discerning the work we’ve been given to do in the world, and acting with intention to carry it out.
- Knowing ourselves: God calls us to serve Him out of who we are, not who we’re not. What are your gifts, abilities and personality? What are your deepest desires? Where do you sense the needs of the world most acutely?
- Thinking vocationally: Looking back to see how God has worked through the story of our lives, and paying attention to opportunities now, can help us recognize our vocation more clearly. Is there a thread God has woven through your life, a chord that has always resonated?
- Acting intentionally: Living out our calling requires action.
When we recognize how God has fitted us into the world, serving and giving to others out of His design brings joy – to us, to others, and to God. What a great revelation as we reflect on Christ’s arrival here on Earth and the model He is for us, and as we begin to think about the new year!
How will you embrace the place God has carved out for you in the world this year?