One question I hear from people in my congregation goes like this: “I want to serve the Lord and the church, but how do I discover what my calling is?”
It’s a good question. There are, of course, various programs–interest inventories and the like–designed to help Christians discern their spiritual gifts. Your church may offer workshops on this subject. If so, take one.
But in a general sense, I’d suggest adopting these approaches. They’ll help you figure out what you’re called to do and then perform that job to your fullest potential:
1. Be willing. It’s common for us to tell God what we want to do, or what we refuse to do. It’s far more important for us to do what he wants, whether or not it’s what we’d choose. The first step in finding our calling is to be willing to accept whatever the Lord desires, or, in some cases, whatever the congregation happens to need at the time.
2. Listen. The Spirit speaks in many ways. Sometimes he answers as we pray–we hear that “still, small voice.” Other times he speaks through our fellow Christians. If several friends tell you you’d be great as the teacher of the children’s class, pay attention. They may perceive talents that you don’t see in yourself. This much is sure: If the God of the universe has chosen you for a task, he’s able to communicate that to you. Why would he call you to a job, then refuse to tell you what it is?
3. Be courageous. You may not know whether you’re anointed for a specific task until you try it. So try it! You’ll be afraid of failing. That’s normal, and that’s OK. Everyone’s afraid. But don’t let fear stop you from fulfilling God’s purpose for you. Remember the old saying: God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called.
4. Prepare. If you thought God wanted you to become a brain surgeon, you wouldn’t expect to show up tomorrow at your local hospital, announce that you’d heard from the Lord and be handed a saw and a scalpel. So why would you think you’re instantly qualified to teach a Bible class or counsel single mothers? Whatever you’re called to do, study it. Serve an apprenticeship with others who’ve done that job well. Take correspondence courses. Ask questions. Put some effort into it. You may be called to the job, but it probably will take a while before you’re qualified.
5. Be faithful. The Apostle Paul told his protégé Timothy to be “instant in season and out of season.” That applies to all of us. It means we should be faithful to our spiritual job when things are going well and when we’re flailing, when people praise us and when they criticize us, when we see tangible results and when we don’t.
6. Depend on God. Ultimately, any duty the Lord has called us to is more his responsibility than ours. You’ll sometimes feel you’re not up to the task at hand. You’re right. Fortunately, God is up to the task. We can do all things through him.