02-17-2013 message by Pastor Rich Doebler
From ideas presented by Pete Richardson (founder of Convergence Planning; source: Qideas.org/video/calling.aspx)
For a while now we’ve been looking at spiritual gifts—how God gives each of us certain abilities and gifts for the purpose of blessing and serving others. (See 1 Pet 4:10).
To fulfill this purpose, we need to know the gifts God has given us (and those of you who have signed up for the “Spiritual Gifts and Calling” workshop this weekend will learn more about that). But knowing your gifts is only one part of the picture.
Knowing your gifts is good, but using your gifts is better. Still, using your gifts can fall far short of God’s intentions.
A person can use his gifts and talents in the wrong way or for the wrong reason. Some very talented people, for instance, use their special abilities for selfish purposes or even to commit crimes. What good is it if you’re a genius but become a criminal mastermind?
We need to go beyond merely using our gifts! We need to use our gifts for the good of others and to honor God.
Our ultimate goal should be to use our gifts to fulfill God’s calling on our lives.
Sociologists estimate there have been about 110 billion in all of human history (with just over 7 billion of them alive now). 110 billion! Do you know how many that is?
If you filled the Metrodome to capacity (64,000+) once every day until you reached 110 billion, it would take you 4,700 years! [With the new Vikings Stadium, it would only take you 4,636 years.]
And yet, despite that incomprehensible number, God knows each person—each individual. He knows all the villains and the victims; the heroes and the common, ordinary folk; the famous and the unknown, the saints and the sinners.
God knows them all, and he loves them all—each one. He loves the beautiful and the strong; he loves the broken and the deformed. He loves the intelligent and the ignorant. He loves the powerful and the weak. God loves each one!
And God has a plan for each one—for each individual. His plan was that all should be part of his eternal purpose—his eternal kingdom. We read in the Bible that God so loved the world… (John 3:16); that [God] wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act. (2 Peter 3:9, GW); that [God’s intention was] to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under…Christ. (Eph 1:10).
God has a plan and a purpose for each individual! But tragically, most people fall short of that plan. They miss the central reason and purpose for why God put them here.
If you want to make your life count for something—for eternal significance—it’s essential that you understand and clarify God’s call on your life.
Finding your calling is not just a one-time, crisis event. It’s not a “vision quest” where you go to the mountain top to wait for a supernatural revelation. More practically, discovering your call requires a process that will take time. It may unfold over decades.
To get a handle on that process we need to grasp several key principles:
- Everyone has a calling.
- Every calling involves a journey.
- Every journey needs a map.
- Every map is enhanced by a guide. (Someone who has gone before, a mentor gifted with abilities to help us navigate the journey.)
Everyone has a calling.
- Calling does not refer to the “common calling” (called as a spouse or a parent, for example).
- Calling is not about a job title, a role in society, or even a career track.
- Calling should flow from your inner core, your identity as defined by God: the affirmation, declaration, and definition of what God thinks about you!
- Calling speaks to that unique and special place in God’s kingdom—what God wants you to be and to do to fulfill the purpose for which he made you.
- Calling is specific to how God made you. How did God make you? Some would say, “I should never have been born. My parents never wanted me. I was an accident. God didn’t make me.”
- The truth is that every person who has ever lived is an eternal being who has God’s fingerprints on him! You could say we carry God’s DNA within our soul because we are made in his image!
- Everyone—saints and sinners, broken or beautiful, wanted and unwanted—everyone is made in the image of God. (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; James 3:9; Acts 17:28; Ps 24:1; 89:11). Even before we know God, he knew us. In beautiful poetry and picturesque language, David wrote about God
- Psalms 139:13-15 (NIV) 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
When we discover who we are, that’s when we begin to line our lives up with God’s intentions—his purpose—those things that will please God and honor God.
When we get a handle on our purpose, we will begin to be more effective as servants for his kingdom here on earth. We will begin to move toward God’s calling.
- What are you called to be? What are you called to do? (This is another area to be covered at the “Spiritual Gifts & Calling” workshop.) You discover your calling more easily when you recognize how God made you: fearfully and wonderfully; when you know who you are—your abilities and your passion will flow from that.
- Calling is at the intersection of talents and heart. Like finding the cross-hairs on a rifle scope—knowing your gifts and passions helps you aim straight so you can “hit” your calling.
○ Some say that every person has 3-5 core “talents.” We are often too well aware of our inabilities, especially if we struggle with doubts or a lack of confidence.
○ But God wants us to see the abilities his has given us—natural talents
given at birth; but also spiritual gifts given at the “new birth” (conversion); and finally, “empowered” gifts given when you are filled (or baptized) with God’s Holy Spirit.
NT parable of talents: God wants you to “give back” those things he has given you. He “invests” in you, expecting an ROI—a return on investment.
○ He calls each one to step out in faith, to take some risks, because he’s looking for “servants” who will be “good and faithful” in growing the kingdom.
○ He wants you to see where you’re going (vision) and what you will do (strategies).
○ The worst thing you can do (drawing from that story) is bury your talents and your gifts.
[Fear causes people to bury them.]
Every calling involves a journey.
Some key milestones on the journey:
- When you come to the conscious awareness
that there are things you don’t know.
- Psalms 139:1-6 (NIV) 1 O LORD, you
have searched me and you know me. 2 You
know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive
my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my
going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
- As you realize your limitations, you’ll you feel a growing “angst”—a strong, compelling motivation to know God’s will, a desire to gain insight and clarity.
- Which moves you into a “search and discovery” mode—intensifying your quest to know.
- Beginning to realize how you got to where you are (being able to tell your “story”).
A person’s calling emerges out of the logic of one’s story line: as you recall all you’ve experienced and endured, your calling makes sense. Like Joni Eareckson Tada…
- Realizing where you are today (now)—you begin to assess your situation.
- Psalms 139:7-10 (NIV) 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
- You need to see God’s presence in your life—in the good times and the bad: “even there…you are there.”
- When you see God at work, you begin to learn who you are…and who you are not: You begin to see how you are wired.
- Learn what you must become and what you must do.
But people can “stall out” and not finish the journey unless they “own” the process.
- This means you have accepted God’s way as your own. You’ve learned the way of surrender; you’ve learned to “let go” and “let God.”
- Why? Because you have seen what God is doing. He’s inviting you to partner with him, to join with him in what he is already doing.
- Psalms 139:16-17 (NIV) …All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
- If God has “thoughts” and plans for you, you need to “buy in.” If you can “own” those thoughts as your own—accept his thoughts and surrender to his plan, then you’ll be able to keep going, even confronting your fears (which are the enemy’s methods to hold people back from their calling).
- So finally you can courageously pursue your calling.
Focus. We don’t have to deal with unlimited opportunities; we merely need to find “focused possibilities.”
- This requires us to sift out all the distractions and clutter that pull us away from our higher calling. “Good enough” is the enemy of the “best.”
- Then you can focus or concentrate on what you must be and do. This is where you learn to apply and activate your calling.
- Focus will help you understand and manage the obstacles; to overcome your limitations and your sin; to understand and navigate the risks.
- Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
As life unfolds, you will go through various “seasons” where you’ll need renewing.
- This means you will cultivate, nurture, develop and expand God’s call on your life in the various stages of life’s experience.
- So you can adapt or reapply your calling to each new chapter or season in my life. It’s possible to have one “banner” calling—with several occupations or expressions of that call.
Every journey needs a map showing the way: a plan or strategy to help you move toward God’s calling on your life—the vision of where you are going, where God is taking you. It’s rooted in your core identity and purpose—who God made you to be!
- If it’s not rooted in these things, then it’s not really a vision; it’s only a pipe dream. “We can’t predict the future, but we can create it.”
Every map is enhanced by a guide Advisors, mentors, those who have gone before, close friends who believe in you, your spouse..
Where are you on this journey? Have you been awakened? Are you in the process of discovering? Do you need to refocus? To get past the clutter and fog? Are you going through a new season of life, needing renewal?
God wants to use each person in very specific ways at the intersection of their heart/passion and talent/gifts so their calling can be applied to a specific role in restoring God’s broken world and bringing visible signs of God’s kingdom to all the different sectors of earth.
God’s kingdom needs you, your calling—fully surrendered, owned, activated, and applied.
And as Pete Richardson says, “That’s not only worth living for—that’s worth dying for!”