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When We Are Not In Our Calling - Where Are We?

Barb Stanley

I used to believe that calling and purpose were the same. That God called us to the purpose that he made us for. I even preached this to others often. “I believe we are made on purpose for a purpose.” And I still believe, all the way down to my bones, that this statement is true. But what do we do when our calling feels just out of reach?

For many in ministry, the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed everything. Social distancing and online services have kept most from being able to be with those they are called to serve. And yes, we can and should pivot, be creative, and embrace the new normal as it unfolds. But, what if part of this new normal makes us feel like our calling has been put on hold? What about the seasons of waiting? If we are not in our calling, then where exactly are we? I believe, it is here that we are most in our purpose.

Follow me for a moment. The way I see it is this. Our calling is the beautiful and unique Holy Spirit whisper that each person who has received one will never be the same after hearing. It is the individual ministry that God has gifted each of us to do. Each person who receives a calling receives it differently, uniquely, and expressly designed just for them. It looks different for everyone.

Our purpose, however, is not unique. In fact, it is universal. Our purpose is this: Be willing. It is that simple. We are to be willing to be used by the spirit when needed. It is not about the grand gestures. It is not about the big moves. It is not about us at all. It is making a cup of coffee for a co-worker who could use a friend. It is listening to a long-winded story told by a person who is lonely. It is stepping in and helping a stranger in need. It is giving grace, spreading encouragement, and sharing wisdom to those who feel lost. It is often being the answer to someone else’s prayer that we will never know has been prayed. It is not a destination or a resume bullet point. It is so much more than that. It is being obedient in the everyday things of life to be willing to show God’s love to others.

Now, I still believe, all the way down to my bones, that those who have received a calling will always desire to find their way back there. However, each of us will go through seasons in the wilderness, where our calling feels just out of reach. In the past I approached these times with breathless, tight fisted fear. I let regret and doubt creep in and color the way I saw my life and my future. I felt almost desperate to make changes to get me back to where I felt I needed to be, when I felt that I needed to be there.

But now I see it differently. Even in the wilderness, God was using me to impact others. Mostly in small ways that I was too focused on my own misery to notice. And while, all I could see was the overwhelming maze of trees and weeds, God was enjoying the flowers. He was putting opportunities in my daily life where he hoped I would be willing to be his light. And when I managed to do a few things right, he was joyous. He was not disappointed in me that I hadn’t made it to my destination yet. He was not regretful for the choices I could not unmake. He was not fearful for my future. He was teaching me this:

No matter what circumstances life throws at us, every day, we get to make a choice. Are we willing? If the answer is yes, then even when we are not in our calling, we are still in our purpose, and that is exactly where He wants us to be.


Help Protect Against Compassion Fatigue

Ministry can be fulfilling, but it also can be tough, especially during the changes caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Studies show that those in the helping field, including ministry, can increase their energy and fulfillment by regularly embracing four simple points: Connecting to their mission, Feeling valued by others, Feeling equipped, and Practicing self-care. That's why we developed the "4 Points Worksheet" filled with easy and fun prompts for you and your team. Each month we will have a free worksheet with all new prompts available for download. Download one today and start protecting your team. You're worth it!

4 Points December 2020
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