This month in worship we are going to be looking at different texts that have to do with the idea of calling. I have to be honest with you, I’ve got conflicting feelings about this idea. Back when I was going through the process to become a pastor, one of the questions I frequently got was, “Tell me about how you were called to the ministry?” This question always made me cringe a little. I felt like I was supposed to have some sort of miraculous story of divine revelation, as if a voice from heaven called out to me and told me what to do. It seemed people were expecting me to have a clear sense that this was what I was born to do.
I can still recall that insecure feeling I would get as I stumbled through an answer that usually went something like, “I took a chance working in a church and I liked it, I found it fulfilling, and people even told me I was good at it.” There is nothing quite like hearing the sound of a disappointed, “Oh,” as you crush the hopes of someone expecting to hear something magical.
A first look at the scripture texts at the beginning of John and Mark’s Gospels, would also point to the miraculous nature of a voice of God calling out to us. But a second or third look reveals what I have found true about calling. It is usually much more subtle, accidental and experiential in nature. And it really is less about hearing some voice outside ourselves, and more about listening for and even learning more about who each one of us uniquely is.
Hands down my favorite quote about vocation comes from the great spiritual teacher, Howard Thurman. “Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
This quote is a reminder that our sense of calling doesn’t come from the endless list of the worlds “should dos” and “ought tos,” but rather from deep within. From knowing our true self, and the interests, passions, and sparks that make us feel most alive or allow us to live with the greatest congruence to who we know our selves to be. And yes, that may even mean leaving some really important needs of the world for someone else, in order for us to realize what is ours to do.
I look forward to discovering these texts on calling with you this month and pondering again what new things we might learn about ourselves and how God is calling us to live from that greater sense of who we are.
John 1:1-18 – Born of God
Mark 1:1-11 – In You I Find Happiness
John 1:43-51 – Come and See
Mark 1:14-20 – Learning Something New
Mark 1:21-28 – Exercising Demons