What is a Calling?
Do you ever wonder and stress about what you should do with your life? What job you should have, who you should marry, or where you should live? If you have been around Christian culture, you may have heard conversations about God’s calling. People will talk about feeling called to a certain job, ministry, or country for missions. Perhaps you’ve even spent restless hours trying to discern God’s calling for your life. But what is a calling, according to the Bible?
Primary and Secondary Callings
First of all, everyone has a calling. Your primary calling has nothing to do with a certain situation or location. Rather, your primary calling is to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Before you are called to something, you are called to Someone. If you are reading this, you have been invited to know God, have eternal life, and find deep purpose as you partner with Him in the here and now. That’s good news! Then, as you seek and spend time with God, he will reveal your secondary calling.
Another name for your secondary calling is vocation. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare. It means “to call.” Though your vocation is more specific than your primary calling, it is still broader than a certain job or career field. Your vocation is deeply tied to who God created you to be—your gifts, talents, and desires.
The idea of vocation first came about in the early 1500s during the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church insisted that a vocation, or calling, was reserved for people who were entering the priesthood or monastic order. The Reformers responded by arguing that all Christians were called by God to live faithfully in the three arenas of life: the household, church, and government. It also taught that even mundane tasks like household chores were worship to God. Essentially, the Christian definition of vocation is holistic. It is not just relegated to work. It’s all about how you choose to live your life in total response to God.
There are several Bible verses about calling, but we are going to focus on the concept of God’s calling in the book of Ephesians. The first three chapters of Ephesians detail what God has done for us, such as how He “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3) and gave us “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses.” (Ephesians 1:7) Then, the last three chapters are about how to respond to the gift of God’s grace.
So, with that, this article is going to cover:
1. The Nature of God’s Calling
2. The Characteristics of God’s Calling
3. The Purpose of God’s Calling
The Nature of God’s Calling
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” (Ephesians 4:1, ESV)
What do you do when you get a phone call? If it’s someone you want to talk to, you answer it! However, the process of answering the call is not passive–it requires some action on your part. Remember that you aren’t the one who initiated the conversation. You have to listen and ask questions about why the caller reached out in the first place. Depending on the nature of the call, you may be asked to take action afterwards.
Answering the call on your life is a lot like that, but a lot of the time people have their phone on silent. The chaos of the life they’ve created is so loud that it drowns out the call that could change everything.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
God has already given us salvation and prepared plans for us. God’s calling is not dependent on our credentials or talents. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31) Rather, it is a free gift God extends to everyone! Our calling is how we choose to joyfully respond to that gift.
The Characteristics of God’s Calling
“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
When we look at a biblical definition of what is calling, it quickly becomes evident that how we act is just as important (if not more) than what we do. The characteristics of God’s calling demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit and traits that Jesus embodied while He was on earth. Ephesians encourages us to live out our calling with humility, gentleness, patience, and peace.
In addition, it is encouraging that “the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) Irrevocable: Not able to be changed or reversed; Final. If you’re afraid that you’ve ‘missed it’, that fear is from the Enemy—not God. Our calling cannot be taken away or lost—instead, it is eternally manifested inside of us! The Word of God cannot be shaken. When we commit to get back in the race and follow God, our calling is alive within us.
The Purpose of God’s Calling
“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
The purpose of God’s calling is for Christians to have unity as the Body of Christ. And that through unified faith and knowledge of God, we would become like Jesus. So, our calling really isn’t about us at all! Rather, our calling draws us into a relationship with Christ and one another.
Fight against comparison and aim for connection, and see what God does! There are more than enough resources and positions to go around, and nobody can take what God has intended for you. The knowledge of God and unity as the Body of Christ is the required foundation to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. From there, we can begin to press into our vocational callings and truly shape culture.
I hope this blog has helped you answer the question ‘what is a calling?’ for your life. What do you feel like God is calling you to in 2022? How will you respond? I would love to hear from you in the comments!