Why Understanding Your Personal Calling is Important

  • 13 December 2014
  • Randy Wollf

Cell phone with missed call from GodI vividly remember the leadership retreat several years ago where Dave Jackson with Church Resource Ministries led our church leadership through a personal refocusing process. The lights came on for me, as I understood in a much deeper way God’s call on my life. That process of understanding my personal calling fanned into flame a strong sense of purpose that continues to guide me to this day.

God’s Plan

God has created and shaped us for a purpose. Our calling is God’s game plan for our lives. It’s also part of His larger plan for the Church and the world.

There are numerous examples in Scripture of people who knew their God-given calling.

  • Abraham made great sacrifices to move his family to the place of God’s choosing. 
  • Nehemiah risked losing his career in the royal courts and faced great opposition in order to obey God’s call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
  • After an attempted detour to Tarshish, Jonah realized that following God’s calling was better than going his own way.
  • God called Queen Esther to save her people and she did. 
  • The Apostle Paul had a strong calling to proclaim the gospel where people had not yet heard it. He lived out his calling and God used him to make disciples and plant churches all over the Mediterranean world.

Understanding Our Calling Gives Us Direction and Passion

What happens when we understand our calling and decide to live it out in God’s strength and for His glory? We have a strong sense of direction – we know our game plan (or at least parts of it). Because we believe that our game plan is from our loving Lord, we will want to carry it out with passion, courage, and determination. We will engage in extraordinary efforts in the struggle to realize God’s calling.

Staying on Track

Of course, there are circumstances and forces that may distract us from the game plan or diminish our passion to execute the plan. That is why it is imperative that we keep coming back to the Lord for guidance and strength. We also need to keep the plan in front of us at all times and prayerfully discern when God would have us to adjust it. Having a strong network of prayer supporters and encouragers will help us to stay the course, as well.

Some people may get discouraged when they don’t see much progress in accomplishing God’s calling. I am learning that living out God’s calling often has many detours. Yet, I believe that even the detours have a purpose in God’s economy. Our role is to do our best, in God’s strength, to struggle forward in realizing God’s calling. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The credit belongs to the man [and woman I would add] who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause.”

There is no cause more worthy than living out God’s calling on our lives.

I would love to hear your thoughts on calling. Why do you think understanding your calling is important (or not important)?

Note: I have developed a process for coming up with a one-sentence life purpose statement and I've used this method to help hundreds of people discover or reinforce their sense of purpose in life. You can read about the process in an article called Three Steps to Understand Your Life Purpose in a Deeper Way (there's also a workbook called Understanding Your Personal Calling that goes with it). 

Dr. Randy Wollf is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary and the Director of MinistryLift.