Calling. Destiny. Divine purpose. We’ve all heard about these. Pastors and other Christians often encourage us to discover God’s calling on our lives.
When I entered seminary – and each year I applied for scholarships – I had to indicate what God’s call was for me. I generally wrote “pastor” or “professor” (part of me still has a heart for these), but I can’t say whether these are or aren’t my “calling.”
Many of us spend years, even decades, struggling to know exactly what God wants us to do for him.
There are two ways to find out what your calling is: sit and wait or start doing something.
Which one should we try? Let’s turn to Scripture.
Peter, in his first letter, gives each of the best approach to discovering our calling, or our role in God’s kingdom:
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11
We learn from these verses that the best way to discover our calling is to discover our spiritual gifts. The way we discover our spiritual gifts is by serving others.
Discover Your Spiritual Gifts by Serving Others
Each believer is given one or more gifts by God that we are to use to forward his kingdom agenda. How do you determine your spiritual gift?
Well, you can take a “spiritual gift inventory,” but they aren’t always accurate and sometimes they can mislead you). The other way is by serving others, which is the method taught in Scripture.
Peter’s emphasis isn’t on identifying or labeling our spiritual gifts. Rather, he’s focusing on using them. The Apostle is telling us we need to start serving those around us. As we serve others, God will make it known what gifts he has given.
As John Piper put it,
[D]on’t worry about whether you can point to prophecy, or teaching, or wisdom, or knowledge, or healing, or miracles, or mercy, or administration, etc., and say, “That’s mine.” The way to think is this: the reason we have spiritual gifts is so that we can strengthen other people’s faith; here is someone whose faith is in jeopardy; how can I help him? Then do or say what seems most helpful, and if the person is helped, then you may have discovered one of your gifts.
All this to say: if you want to discover your gifts, start serving others.
As you serve others, you’ll also start to realize what God’s calling you to do.
Find Your Divine Calling by Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
Your calling will align perfectly with your gifts. God will call you to something where you will be able to use the gifts he gave you to serve others.
Notice what Peter said in verse 10: “use it [your gift] to serve one another.” Doing this is what brings glory to God through Jesus Christ (v. 11).
Start Serving Others
It’s easy, and even seems righteous, to sit back and wait for God to give us some grandiose vision about what extravagant plan we should follow before we start serving. However, not everyone is called to be the next big thing or a mega-influencer (nor should we strive to be, for that’s sinful pride). Furthermore, if we’re doing nothing except waiting on God, then we’re failing to serve where God’s already put us.
The better, and even biblical, approach is to start doing something.
God wants to be glorified through Jesus. God gives us gifts that will accomplish that. Thus, he will never give us a gift and then call us to something where that gift won’t be used much or at all. Rather, God always calls people to serve in accordance with the gifts he gives them.
If we want to know our calling, then we need to know our gifts. If we want to know our gifts, then we should start serving others.
Many Christians sit around asking God to reveal to them what exactly they he wants them to do. Should you pastor? Should you be a music minister? Should you be a businessperson? Should you be a deacon? I don’t know.
Truth is, God’s not likely to reveal some hidden text in the back of the Bible saying, “Eric, you should pastor Super-Good Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and make it huge!” He’s not likely to speak audibly to you (although you can get the Bible as an audio book).
Rather, God wants us to start serve others where we are. As we serve, God will show us what our gifts are, and he will reveal his calling for us.
How will you start serving others at work, at school, at home, and in your community?