Calling 101: What It Is, How It Works, and How Most Christians Get It Wrong

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As Christians, we are all called to glorify God and to honor Him with the way we live our lives and with the way we use the time He’s given us.

 

However, within that primary calling we all have, we each also have secondary callings.  These secondary callings can be situational, seasonal, or for a lifetime. We often hear these callings referenced in conversation:  “What’s your calling?” “Have you found your calling yet?” “What are you being called to do?”

 

I don’t know about you, but I always hated those questions when I was younger because I felt like I had to have some massive life plan all figured out by the time I graduated college.  In Christian circles especially, callings tend to be given so much emphasis that we muddle the whole concept and even glorify some callings over others.

 

For example, we often think that a calling is the same thing as a career, but that’s not always the case.  We tend to mystify callings to the point that people aren’t sure what we mean when we use that word.  In reality, a calling can be for a specific situation, a specific season, or for a whole lifetime, and it doesn’t have to be something we are paid to do.  In fact, in most cases, we aren’t.

 

 

So what is a calling?

 

A calling is simply a tug on our hearts by God toward a particular thing for a certain situation, a season, or a lifetime.

 

 

Also, no matter what type of calling we receive, it will always meet a need somewhere for someone, even if we don't realize it.

 


 

There are three main types of callings:

Situational Callings

These are the times when a situation arises and you feel the Holy Spirit tugging your heart to respond in a certain way.

 

Examples:  

  • Hearing of a need and immediately sensing the Holy Spirit telling you to meet it.
  • Receiving an internal nudge to pay for the groceries of the person behind you in line at the store.
  • Feeling called to speak the truth in love during a conversation, or feeling impressed to share an encouraging word with someone.
  • Being compelled to do an act of compassion, even when you don’t realize you’re meeting a need.*
  • Being called to speak or share your testimony.**


 

*George Mueller is an excellent example of this.  He made it a practice to speak only to the Lord about any needs that arose.  Then, he would wait for God to provide, and every time, God would lay it on someone’s heart to meet the need, many times without that person even realizing there was a need in the first place.

**I always tell my clients (and I have to remind myself, too) that if God’s given us something to say, then that means there’s someone out there who needs to hear it.  He’s not going to give one person a message with no one to receive it.


 

Clarification:  This is the type of calling that every believer experiences on an almost daily basis, yet we can become so busy in our everyday routines that we neglect tuning in to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings.  

 

Tip to Get Started:  Begin to take a few minutes at the start of each day to ask Him to give you strong nudges when He’s calling you to take action, and then train yourself to pay attention to those nudges when they come.  You’ll be amazed at how frequently He opens up opportunities, and as you begin to obey these situational callings as they come, you’ll become more and more in tune with Him and it’ll become easier to discern His calling on bigger things.



 

Seasonal Callings

These are things God places on our hearts for a season of our lives.

 

Examples:

  • Being led to live in a new location for a season.
  • Volunteering for something that’s close to your heart.
  • Choosing to stay single for a season.
  • Feeling called to a job, even if you’re not sure why.*
  • Being called to begin or end a friendship.**
  • Being told by God to wait on Him.***

 

*This happened to me at almost every previous job I had, and it was always amazing to watch as God worked and guided and provided in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.

**We love to think that our friendships will last a lifetime, and while that is true for some friendships, other friendships are just for a season.  God uses these seasonal friendships to grow, mature, and encourage both friends, and then He brings that season of friendship to an end as He moves each friend into a new season.

***Waiting seasons can be extremely frustrating or even painful, but the main thing to remember while waiting is that God is preparing you for the next season and the next season for you.  Don’t rush ahead of Him. Follow His calling to wait where He has you, and continue to do whatever He’s given you to do in your current season while you’re waiting on Him to open up a new season.


 

Clarification:  Like with situational callings, every Christian experiences seasonal callings as well, and we must develop the discipline of seeking God before, during, and after each new season of life to discern His calling in each season.

 

Tip to Get Started:  Take a look at where He’s got you right now, and ask Him how you can better glorify Him in this current season of life.  Then, do what He says.



 

Lifetime Callings

These are the callings we most often hear of in Christian circles.  These callings are a tug on our hearts that God gives to some of us for a lifetime.

 

Examples:

  • Being called to marriage, parenting, or singleness.
  • Being called into missions or ministry.
  • Being called to a particular career or lifelong passion.
  • Being called to a change in beliefs or behavior.


 

Clarification:  Lifetime callings are wonderful gifts from the Lord, but unfortunately in Christian culture, lifelong callings are often glorified over other callings.  We tend to limit our thinking in the area of callings, and we think of all callings as being lifelong careers or service. This has led to many Christians operating under the impression that finding your calling means finding a career.  This misconception makes many of us who aren’t called to a career or ministry feel inadequate or like we don’t have a greater purpose in life. This limited view of callings is also prone to glorify the actual career or ministry over the One who has given the calling in the first place.

 

Tip to Get Started:  This type of calling is a very specific tug on your heart from the Lord, and He always makes these callings very clear, although it’s up to us to be listening and obedient.  If you sense the Lord has a lifetime calling for you, begin to pray over it and ask Him to open up doors in that direction.  Also ask Him to confirm it and give you clear steps forward to follow.


 

Please remember...

Our ultimate calling as Christians is to glorify God in whatever situation or season we find ourselves in.  That is a permanent lifetime calling each and every believer has and it is one we should be more than excited about because we can glorify Him in so many different ways throughout our lives.


 

I hope this helped to broaden the perspective of callings, and hopefully, it also encouraged you to look at what God’s asking you to do right now and to begin viewing that as a calling from Him.


 

And if you’re still wondering whether you’re living your calling or not, I’m going to break this whole thing down even further with one question that will make everything crystal clear:

 

Are you walking in obedience?

 

If the answer is yes, then you’re already living your calling.

The thing to do now is to keep asking, keep listening, and keep obeying.  

 

 

There now, callings aren't as complicated as they sound, are they?

 


By the way...

Not sure if you’re walking in obedience?  

Wanna find out, while also discovering your calling?

I'm walking you through both of those things step-by-step in my free Clarify Your Calling Guide down below!

And if you’re ready to release your fears, drop your excuses, and take action to start walking in your calling, click the button below to read about how you and I can work together as you start your journey.

 

Free Clarify Your Calling Guide

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This guide is for you if:

  • You're not sure what your calling is but you'd like to figure it out.  (Fact: It's totally figure-out-able!)

  • You think you have a calling, but you're not sure if it qualifies as a true "calling."  (Hint: It probably does!)

  • You've always believed that callings are lifelong careers (spoiler: most callings actually aren't!), and you want to learn more about finding your seasonal calling.

 

 

It's free - just tell me where to send it!

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