As a Life Purpose Coach I believe that we are all called, have gifts and talents, and are incredibly loved by our Creator. Everything that we encounter in life prepares us for the next season in our calling.
I also believe that every one of our gifts are as important as the next persons. We are all working towards the same goals and each and every one of us are highly loved and valued by Jesus!
What I’ve discovered over the years is that many women have an incredibly difficult time discerning what that calling is. The trials of life and the many mixed or misunderstood messages they have heard from various teachers have left them feeling like they never measure up to what God has for them to do. For these struggling women, certain myths about calling are getting in the way of discovering what God truly has for them.
If you’re feeling lost trying to discern God’s calling for your life, consider these myths that may be tripping you up.
The process of discovering your calling may necessitate some serious self-reflection, but make no mistake: It’s not really about you. Calling is not about self-fulfillment. It is a discovery of your preciousness, your beauty, and your gifting…a plan set up for you from before you were born to fulfill… and the revealing of it is directly related to what you have experienced in your life through every trial and every experience, both positive and negative, to prepare and train you to be able to see others come to know who He is through your life.
Calling is a revealing and fulfillment of God’s will for your life.
Many people experience a special sense of satisfaction that comes from exercising their God-given gifts, talents, and passions, but that sense of fulfillment is a byproduct of being in God’s will, not the goal.
To discern what God’s will may be, you do need to look inward. You must seek to “know yourself” in order to discover God’s unique creation in you. Sometimes we can’t see outside of ourselves and being in community with other’s who know you can help to get a better picture. This is why we need each other.
And sometimes we miss the obvious– thinking it couldn’t possibly be important enough to be a calling. I have had women come to me in their season of child rearing, crying because they just don’t feel important to God because He has not revealed to them a calling. And there beside them stood their children.
Do you know raising children is one of the highest callings there is? To raise a child to love and honor God with their own lives is the calling of a Mother. Yes, one day those babies will be on their own and you will be free to pursue other gifts and callings, as each season of your life reveals more and prepares us for the next season.
Nope, not even close. Figuring out your calling isn’t an instant ticket to a smooth life and career. As a matter of fact sometimes we get so stuck in our comfort zones of dysfunction, we would choose to stay there, because at least it is familiar, right?
Knowing what you are meant to be doing is really just the beginning of what may be a long and arduous journey of hardship and defeat. Some of the most successful, inspired people throughout history have pursuit of their paths that has included feeling like a failure….but rest assured,
Not one of your failures is wasted…it is all a part of the plan, and what makes the difference is that you
DON’T GIVE UP!!
For most of my life I struggled with what I was doing, even when I was very busy doing “the work of the Lord”, the way I saw it…
God is never finished with us and even while I was so busy, make no mistake, He continued to reveal to me those places I kept hidden that needed to be healed. I fell flat on my face many times.
I faced plenty of hardships and failures at work and in my personal life. These challenges helped me grow and learn more about God and more about how God created me to serve him, eventually leading me into Life Coaching much to my surprise. Now that I am a Life Coach and have been for many years, I continue to enter into places of so much pain I sometimes question where He is taking me now.
Your calling is most of the time a stretch assignment. Moses is a great biblical example:
He had no doubt about what God wanted him to do. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, giving him clear marching orders about his next steps.
Isn’t this what we all kind of wish for when we’re searching for our calling?
But Moses’ calling didn’t sound all that great to him:
“But who am I that I should go?”
Moses questioned God, voicing the fear,
“I’m not important enough.”
But God answered, “I will be with you.” Then, Moses continued pressing back, asking, “What if they do not believe me?”
“I’m not impressive enough!”
In response, God provided him with miraculous signs. But it still wasn’t enough for Moses, who came back with the worry, “But I am slow of speech and tongue.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
God assured Moses that he would speak through him.
Moses was called to a task God designed for him, but it clearly didn’t feel good. He tried every way he could think of to convince God that he was the wrong man for the job, and then finally, when that didn’t work, he came right out and asked God to “please send someone else.”
Your discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on the wrong path.
I know women (and men too) who seem to agonize endlessly over every major choice in their lives, calling included, because they’re afraid of choosing wrongly. It’s good to want to make the best choice you can, but at some point you just need to make a choice and go from there. If you find yourself worrying excessively about your calling, ask yourself whether this is really about discerning God’s will or whether you may be trying to control God’s will.
Your choices are important, but, when you are seeking Him with your whole heart, no choice you can make is outside of God’s sovereignty. Seriously… it is NOT that easy to miss God. Do you think He is not able to transcend your humanness, and lead you right into His perfect will…even when you think you are the one making the decisions?
If you had asked me 20 or 30 years ago where I would end up, I never would have foreseen the course my life would take. I now look back and am just amazed by God’s providence over all of it.
Discovering your calling isn’t something you do once, or even twice. It’s not something you get to check off of a list and move on from.
The life of a Christian entails a constant process of discovering your calling. Just because God has called you to a particular purpose at a particular time doesn’t mean his plans for you are the same in every season… each season of our lives has a new calling that builds on the last one… nothing stays the same forever.
Looking back at my own life, I can see God shaping and shifting my calling over the years.
Each chapter of my life God continued to call and lead me through one season to the next. Some of the things that happened to me to bring me to this place today is astounding, painful, challenging, and sometimes unbelievable. In every phase my calling has looked and felt different, but God has been a consistent foundation throughout. And even when I was in total denial about my own issues that needed work, His will was accomplished in other’s lives through my calling. Astounding to me.
Who knows what the next chapter of life will bring?
Everyone’s calling is going to look different—and each season will bring a new process of discernment. Just remember, God is in control. He loves you and me, and his will for us will always bring us closer to him.
May you begin your discernment journey with courage and humility!
I want to tell you a little story of some salt and some sugar that totally changed my life.
I know, “salt and sugar”… it sounds like a really crappy 80’s pop group.
What it was was a decision-making example that a friend laid out for me back in 2001, and it totally rocked my world. I was sitting in a Denny’s, and at the time, I was thinking of transitioning between two different jobs. I was thinking, “Do I take some time off between these two jobs and go on tour for one last time in one of my bands?”
My friend told me, “Hey there’s a whole bunch of different things going on in life and for every kind of ‘what if’ in life, you have a very safe and secure ‘yeah but’”.
None of these were anything that were irresponsible or ridiculous, but he said “Hey, what if we went out on tour between your jobs?”
My “yeah but” was, “Yeah… but I have an apartment.”
So, I was paying rent. Sure, I could always get a new apartment. But for me, it was just kind of a comfort thing.
And so, he lays out this little illustration that totally changed my thinking.
He grabs one of those pink sugars and one of those blue sugars – those things that some people use in their coffee or iced tea or whatever, they’re always down at the end of the table next to the half used ketchup and the crusty mustard. So, he pulls them out and puts them on opposite ends of the table. And then he grabs the saltshaker and puts it right in the middle table. And he pauses one of those dramatic pauses, like I’m supposed to go, “WHOA! It’s so clear now!” But, really, what I wanted to say was, “What are you doing?”
So, he says, “Right now this is you – you’re the saltshaker, OK? Where you’re at right now is next to the pink sugar. The pink sugar is safe. It’s what you know. It’s what you have. It’s a lack of risk. It’s a lack of stepping out. It is safe.
But over here is the blue sugar. The blue sugar is the unknown. But, it’s what you want. It is your risk. It is the reward. It is a challenge. It is something new. But you’ll never get to the blue if you don’t let go of the pink.
You will never get to what you want if you’re not willing to risk and step away from what is.
It’s not about salt and sugar, its about you knowing and seeing what is comfortable, and yet not willing to step out of what is comfortable because you want something so much more.
And, I think there’s a lot of us who have dreams. We have opportunities. We have ideas that we really want to implement. There are ministries we want to start. There are conversations we want to have. There are risks that we want to take. There are jobs that we want to change. There are all these different things in life that we cannot see, but we have a desire to reach for.
And yet, we look at what we know, and we look at the comfort, and we are not willing to let go of the comfort to get to that dream.
I heard this quote once (and I’m probably misquoting it, but that’s what I do):
Between what you have and what you want is always work. And once you put in the work, you can get what you want.
But, I’m going to change it a bit to this:
Between what you have and what you want, there is fear, there are choices, there is wonder.
Now, as Christians, we still live in the same thing. But a lot of times, we think that we’re supposed to have a comfortable life. God did not come and die on a cross so that we could have a comfortable life. He came that we should have life and have it more abundantly. He says we should have purpose in our lives. He talks about how we are designed for a reason and yet sometimes we never find that reason or never choose to live that reason because between where we’re at and where He wants us is fear… or even worse than fear, there is comfort.
You ever find yourself looking at something that you really, really want? Or, maybe it’s even worse because you know God wants you to pray for this person, or God wants you to say “hi” to someone, or you just have that feeling like, “I’m really supposed to do something right now. I’m supposed to pull the car over and take this dude through the drive-through and take care of him.”
And yet you don’t.
Yeah, we could justify that, but I’m guessing the real reason behind your lack of action is comfort. You’re not in that big of a hurry. You’re not that afraid of using words. You’re not that afraid of talking to new people or meeting new people. You have the answers. But, you’re nervous. We’re uncomfortable.
Every time we say no to that, it makes it harder to do it the next time. I think that’s why a lot of us live comfortable lives – because we quit taking risks years ago, and now we will never have anything. We will never be able to look back and say, “DANG! That’s what I did!”
We worry about our comfort.
2 Corinthians 5:7 says this:
For we live by faith, not by sight.
What Paul is saying in the middle of all this is: as Christians, we live in such a way that we follow God. Maybe it’s not everything that we are seeing, but it’s how we are led, it’s how we are called. But a lot of us have started to focus on what is right in front of us – what we can see. We we can feel right now. We live in the “now” and not in the “what should we be doing”.
A lot of us are holding onto what we know and we’re never willing to get a hold of what God wants for us, because were not willing to take that risk. As Christians, we are supposed to live by faith – not just “by comfort”. Not just by “what we know”. But, we live by faith.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. Is says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your paths straight.
When we trust in the Lord with all of our heart… when we really say,
“God, You are more important than my comfort, or my hobby, or anything that I can feel, taste, touch, smell… experience right now. Whatever I have right now, You are more important than that! And so, I’m going to trust in You all I’ve got. I’m not going to lean on what I know. I’m not going to lean on my comfort, or the stuff that has gotten me here. I just want to trust in You. I want to acknowledge You in everything that I do.”
Now, this doesn’t mean going out and getting a Christian tattoo or wearing a What Would Jesus Do t-shirt, or wearing a giant cross. But it is living in such a way that you acknowledge Him. And when we acknowledge God, that means with our words, actions, deeds, the way I treat my kids, the way I interact with people in traffic, the way that I treat someone who has 18 items in the 15-item-or-less lane at the grocery store…
I’m supposed to acknowledge God in every aspect of my life!
And so, with that, as I am acknowledging God, and I lean NOT on my own understanding, He starts to make my path straight. He starts to lead me in such a way that I start to see His will and follow it more and more.
Again, it goes from “seeing what I see” to “living by faith”. And, what I have seen throughout my life is that the more any of us follow God, the more God leads us. Conversely, the more we ignore God, the less we hear God’s leading voice.
So, as we acknowledge God in our lives, He is going to continue to lead us.
We have strong desires in our hearts! And, I believe that as long as those desires are in alignment with God’s Word, He has put those desires in you. He is calling you out of the worldly comforts that you’re used to and into doing something that is amazingly great for His kingdom!
Because, all of our talents, abilities, and possessions are given to us so that they might glorify God and build up His people.
So, you have these desires and abilities to create, to serve, to grow, to be something more… and God says, “That’s awesome! Let’s do that!!… but do you trust Me with it? Are you going to live by faith or by sight? Are you going to trust Me with all your decisions, or are you going to lean on your own wisdom, knowledge, and understanding?”
It’s so easy to go back to “what we know”.
But, I go back to sitting in a Denny’s, up in the Bay Area on a cold, dark night… looking at a salt shaker and thinking, “If that’s me, do I want to hold onto everything that I already have, or do I want to see and experience the life that God has in store for me?
If we hold onto what we have, we will always have it. But, if we are willing to let go of that, and really hold onto God and walk in such a way that He has called us, we’ll be amazed at what we have in store on the other side!
We may not see the payoff today… shoot, we may not even see the payoff in this lifetime. But, if we are willing to follow God and walk through discomfort, fear, and the unknown, then we will experience a much more powerful life than we can imagine!
I want you to simply sit and think: What is it that I want? What is it that I’m holding onto? Do I trust God enough to go where He leads me?
All this from a crazy little conversation around two little sugar packets and salt. But, for me, it’s totally impacted the way that I make decisions.
Now, go out and live an unorthodox life! Leave your mark on your friends, family, and community in the name of Christ!