Last week I made the comment that “Your calling is often connected to what troubles you deeply and how you have been hurt in the past.” Here is what I mean by that.
In the book of Nehemiah, in the first chapter it talks about Nehemiah asking about how the Jews that had returned to rebuild Jerusalem were doing. When they reported that things were not going well and that it looked like the city was not making any progress, this was his response: “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-heaven.”
For William Wilberforce it was slavery. He devoted most of his life to seeing it ended in England. For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, it was the injustice that oppressed and persecuted African-Americans.
If you want to discover your calling, start praying about what troubles you deeply. What do you cry about? What makes your heart break? If it is helping the poor, then spend some time around those in poverty. If it is helping single moms, then start meeting with some single moms. If it is divorce, then get involved with some people that have been hurt through divorce. Allow your heart to be moved and shaped into action.
Larry Crabb said this – “The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.”
Nehemiah was passionate about the persecution of his Jewish brothers and had a vision for rebuilding a city. When God gives you a burden, it is usually an indication this could be your calling. If you have a burden for something, do what Nehemiah did. First he fasted and prayed and wept. He spent time with God, but he also dove into it. He put together plans, checklist and material that it would take to accomplish the goal of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He prepared himself so that when an opportunity came along to make a difference he was ready.
As you pray about what is troubling to you start to research how you can get involved. Talk to others that have a similar burden. Check out organizations that are working on whatever issue you are drawn to. For example it may be human trafficking that has been troubling you. There are some great organizations that are passionate about this cause. Go to their website, send some emails, make some phone calls. Start praying for those organizations. Here is one you can check out International Justice Mission
Maybe you don’t have a burden. That’s OK, I am sure you have some hurts from your past. Another way you can discover your calling is to examine where you have been. I believe there is purpose in your past. Soren Kierkegaard said “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” When your pain threshold was tested and your endurance was stretched to the breaking point, that is where God works to bring good. Things like Divorce, abuse, death, alcoholism, cancer, depression, job loss, bankruptcy, eating disorders, miscarriages, abortion, affairs, marriage struggles all bring great pain and great opportunity. The great opportunity is that these things can bring about great change in us if we work with God to heal and become healthy. Once we are on our way to recovery, we can then begin to help others that are not as far along as we are.
The great ministry opportunity comes because now you understand the pain someone else is going through. You can listen with empathy and know what is helpful and what is not helpful. You know how to pray for that person, encourage that person and come alongside them through their dark time.
Max Lucado said this “God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is useful only if it’s in the right shape. A dull ax or a bent screwdriver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God.” We are God’s instruments, his desire is for us to be in good enough shape to help someone else that is bent or broken. He does the work, but he uses us as his instruments.
So to find your calling look to what troubles you deeply or how you have been hurt in the past. Start by praying, fasting, and planning. Taking action is the key, when God opens the door we need the courage to take a step of faith, to take a risk and pursue your calling.
The reason you and I exist is to first have a relationship with God and then to make a difference in other peoples lives. To do that we first must work on ourselves and get as healthy as we can. But don’t wait until you “have it all together” or you will never actually do anything meaningful. God is calling you to himself and to a ministry.