Defining Calling

“I’m called to ministry” is a thing people sometimes say.

People also sometimes say, “I’m called to serve the homeless,” or “I feel called to go to China on mission,” or even, “I really felt called to go work at that non-profit.”

“I’m called to be rich.” is not a thing people say.

People also rarely say, “I’m called to be a janitor,” or “I feel called to move to New York for work,” or even, “I really felt called to go work at that tech startup.”

My question is… why? Why do people say the first things and not the second things? Why is it ok to be called to ministry but not to commerce? Why is it fine to be called to non-profit work but not fine to be called to for-profit work?

Somewhere, at some time, we decided as a church (and as individuals inside the church) that service was a calling but work and earning money was self-directed.

It’s a lie.

Somewhere, at some time, we decided that God calls us to spiritual things, but he merely advises us on “secular things.”

So wrong.

Today, if you are a believer, you are called to your work (your job) the same way a church planter is called to his geography or a missionary is called to her people.

In 1 Corinthians 7:17 Paul makes it really clear:

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.

Paul is talking to newly converted believers and he tells them to maintain the life “that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”

Pop quiz – how many of these newly converted believers were “in ministry” at the time of their conversion? Answer: approximately (exactly) zero. Which means that approximately (exactly) all of the new believers were called and assigned to something other than “vocational ministry.”

God called them to something. The Lord assigned them something. It wasn’t vocational ministry.

God has called you to something. The Lord has assigned it. It probably isn’t “vocational ministry”.

 

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