I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a staff member in the Department of University Advancement at Northwest Missouri State University. We discussed ways to grow the organization while making a positive difference in the city. This individual made it clear that the university genuinely desires to expand in a way that will benefit the community without sacrificing excellence. He also made it clear that the university wants to mobilize students and faculty to positively impact the city without neglecting university expansion.
This conversation intrigued me because it’s exactly what we’re trying to do at Living Hope Church. We want to take God seriously when he says in Jeremiah 29:7 that we are to “seek the welfare of the city… for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” We, like the local university, want to benefit the city because in doing so we will subsequently benefit ourselves. This in turn enables us to benefit the city in an even greater capacity.
This kind of collaboration then creates momentum for both the city and the organization, which in our case is the church. When this happens, the city is strengthened and renewed and the church is built up because God’s people are not only proclaiming the good news about Jesus, they’re actually living it in tangible ways that practically benefit others. People meet Jesus, the church grows, the city flourishes and everybody wins. Sounds great, right? But how do churches, universities and organizations actually accomplish their individual goals in mutually beneficial ways?
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
When I asked this question during our conversation about the university I was surprised at the answer I received. My fellow thinker informed me that the strategy was a combination of entrepreneurship and innovation. Entrepreneurs need to be able to initiate customers, establish mutual relationships and explore new markets. Innovators are able to identify relevant ways to solve current problems.
This means that creating culture while growing any enterprise requires leaders who are skilled at entrevation, the ability to be both entrepreneurial and innovative at the same time. This is true in business, in government, education, churches and just about any organization that desires to grow in a way that is mutually beneficial to all involved parties. The organizations that truly want to be profitable difference-makers need to be able to initiate new markets by using strategies that create timely collaboration so that ideas can be shared and contextualized across various entities.
When it comes down to it, effective collaboration requires organizations to ask two questions of themselves and of any entity they desire to work with:
1) What trends are we currently seeing? Organizations that want to make a true difference have to be able to identify the trends in their own organization. This is what helps them identify where their target market is actually at. Additionally, organizations have to be willing to ask other entities (in sectors not their own) what trends are being noticed among their organizations as well.
This is how organizations discover what is actually going on across the cultural population as a whole. At Living Hope, this is how we know what we need to get our people involved in for maximum cultural impact. In business, this is how a manager knows how to meet the immediate needs of their customers.
2) What questions are people asking? If an organization wants to make a difference right now, it must be able to examine the current trends. If an organization wants to make a difference one month from now, it must be able to identify what questions are still unanswered among their target market. In our context, people want to know how they can make a difference, what makes them significant and how their faith affects other areas of life.
In order for us to make a true difference, we have to be willing to find out what questions government officials, educators and business leaders are asking. When we do, we often find that the questions our people are asking are answered by the questions other entities are asking and vice versa. This allows us to collaborate, innovate and initiate.
The more we do this as a church, the more opportunity we have to take the timeless message of Jesus to our culture in a timely way. The more businesses, organizations, universities, non-profits and churches collaborate using these two questions the more they can initiate new markets in mutually beneficial ways. When this happens, whole cities, and the entities that make them function, flourish and develop beyond their individual potential.
Organizations have, for far too long, been too eager to teach and too unwilling to learn. In today’s culture, the true difference-makers will be the leaders who can learn with and from the other arenas of cultural influence.
What trends do you see in your context? What questions are people asking? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Jesus’ life and ministry were characterized by discipleship. His ministry begins when he calls his first disciples (John 1:35-42), his disciples are present during nearly every event in his ministry (Matthew 5:1; Matthew 8:23; Matthew 14:13-21; Matthew 14:22-36; Matthew 17:1-6; Matthew 26:17) and prior to his ascension he commissions his disciples to go and make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s hard to read the Gospel’s without recognizing how critical the concept of discipleship really is.
What is it?
A disciple by definition is a “learner”. It is someone who is learning to live God’s ways, to believe in Jesus’ finished work and to submit to Christ’s ongoing authority. Another term for a disciple is an apprentice. An apprentice is someone who learns a particular trade by submitting himself to an expert in that trade. A disciple, then, is someone who is learning the Father’s trade by submitting himself to Jesus the Son. As a result, discipleship is the process of learning God’s ways by faith in and submission to Jesus. And it always happens through relationship.
How is it done?
Jesus isn’t physically present with us now, so that makes it difficult to be his “apprentice”. We can, however, experience the Lord’s work in our lives with the help of the Holy Spirit and other people. In Mark 3:7, Scripture tells us that “Jesus withdrew with his disciples.” The Greek word used is diatribo, which literally means “to rub against” or to “rub off.”
The imagery of diatribo is like that of a washboard. Before electronic washing machines people had to wash their clothes by hand by dipping the clothing into soapy water and rubbing it on the metal ridges of a washboard. In the process, the washboard would work the soap into the fabric of the clothing so that it could be cleaned.
The same type of language is used in John 15:4 when Jesus tells his disciples to “remain in him.” This means discipleship requires that we first encounter Jesus daily. We must carve out intentional time with the Lord in prayer, reading of his Word and other spiritual disciplines so that we can get to know him. As we do, the Holy Spirit works the gospel into the fabric of our being through intentional relationship with Christ. Along the way, the Lord conforms our worldview and lifestyle to his.
Discipleship likewise requires that we spend intentional time with people, working the gospel into the fabric of their lives as we “rub off” on them through relationship. When we spend time with people who can disciple us, they help work the gospel into us. When we spend time with non-Christians or people we can disciple we help work the gospel into them, through relationship.
Why is it so important?
Discipleship is important because it is the way that we get the gospel into our DNA. It is the way that we learn to trust in and submit Jesus with the help of others. Without discipleship we are like spiritual infants who are unable to mature into the men and women God wants us to be. Additionally, without discipleship we are unable to help others grow to maturity in Christ as well.
The beautiful thing is that while discipleship can (and does) include formal meetings, it can (and should) also be done “on the go.” We don’t necessarily have time to meet with 10 different people 3 times per week. We can, however, invite people into the things we are already doing. We can invite them to the gym with us, to watch the game with us, to study with us or to anything else we’ve got going on.
Formal discipleship “meetings” are great, but they are most effective when we invite people to do life “with us” (diatribo), working the gospel into their lives through intentional relationship. In this way, people get to see the Christian life in the action of daily life rather than just hearing about it in the theory of a formal meeting. And before we know it, we’re “rubbing off” on them as the gospel gets worked into their lives through ours. It’s unimpressive, but it is effective.
As a location leader at the Living Hope Maryville Campus, I have the unrivaled privilege of pastoring the people that God has placed under my care. With this privilege also comes much responsibility. One of those responsibilities is helping God’s people pursue God’s calling for their lives individually and as a church collectively.
The Living Hope Maryville Campus is predominantly college students and recent graduates. It’s not uncommon for me to ask Living Hope members what they plan to do when they graduate. The answer I usually get is that they will go wherever they can get a job. That’s a heart-breaking response.
Serving the Wrong Master
The problem with this response is that it demonstrates that the person giving it is (possibly unintentionally) serving the wrong master. (Luke 16:13) This reply indicates that a person’s career is dictating his life instead of his calling. It shows that the person is submitting primarily to her job when she should be submitting only to Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Does that mean that it’s wrong to pursue a career? Not at all, so long as it’s the career that God has called you to at the time he has called you to it. It does mean, however, that we should be asking an entirely different set of questions. Instead of asking “where can I get a job?”, we should be asking: Where does Jesus want me to be? And, what is God calling me to do next?
Submitting to Jesus
Submitting to Jesus isn’t always easy. It sometimes means doing things we don’t want to do, living somewhere we don’t want to live or working a job that isn’t even in our career field. This, however, is always our best option because it is the option that grows our faith, increases our joy and prepares us for what God has next. (Luke 9:23-25; Matthew 13:44)
If you’re approaching graduation, retirement or a family move, please submit to God’s calling instead of your career. Open your life up to a community of believers, ask them to help you determine God’s call for you and to shape you for it. If it’s not clear, hang tight for a while longer than you originally intended. Don’t leave a healthy, missional community of God’s people for a career that might deter you from God’s calling. Stay put until God makes it clear (with the help and consensus of other godly people) which direction to move next. (Acts 15:28; Hebrews 13:7, 17)
Be willing to make adjustments to your life plan, put your career on hold or even work in a field entirely unrelated to your major. Wrestle with God, identify your calling and submit to Jesus. Always, always, always pursue God’s calling instead of your career. It will be more difficult, but I guarantee it will be more rewarding.
Have you ever put a career on hold to pursue your calling? If so, what did God do? You can leave a comment here.
By now, a good portion of the American public knows about the former Maryville High football player who allegedly raped an intoxicated a 14-year-old girl and then left her unconscious in her front yard in below freezing temperatures. Matthew Barnett and Daisy Coleman have become household names.
Everyone has an opinion about the situation. Earlier this week the Twitter hashtag #Justice4Daisy was nationally trending 2 to 3 tweets every second. The painful reality is that this situation, as difficult as it is for the individuals involved, is not an isolated incident. Young boys all across the country are guilty of irresponsible acts of injustice that are not limited to sexual predation. Young girls fall prey to similar circumstances in towns and cities across the globe every day.
A Cultural Distortion
I’m not in any way attempting to minimize the situation in Maryville, Missouri. Justice must be served. I am, however, hoping to bring to light the tragedy behind the tragedy.
The untold reality to the #Justice4Daisy situation is that it is the symptom of a larger cultural problem: a distortion about what it means to be masculine and feminine. The disastrous effect is social and sexual injustice.
For decades, young boys have been silently taught that masculinity is defined by the ball field, the billfold and the bedroom. At age six they learn that true men can outperform their peers on the athletic field. At age sixteen boys are taught that true men can out earn their peers in the workplace. And at age 18 (or younger) boys are taught that true men are the ones who can sleep with the most girls, at any cost.¹
Likewise, young girls are taught that femininity is defined by beauty, bodies and boys. In elementary school, girls learn to believe the lie that they are only significant if they are outwardly more beautiful than their peers. In middle school, girls learn that their value is directly proportional to their waist size. And in high school, young ladies are taught that they can only have a meaningful relationship if they are willing to sleep with the most popular boys.
I’m not excusing anyone’s behavior or casting blame on anyone. Is there injustice in the #Justice4Daisy case? Yes. Does it need to be handled legally? Absolutely. Do the people involved need to take responsibility? Without question.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if this situation occurred because of the larger cultural distortion about what it means to be truly masculine and feminine. I wouldn’t be surprised if Matthew Barnett was simply trying to live up to the cultural expectations concerning what it means to be a man. It’s also reasonably likely that girls like Daisy end up in these situations because of the cultural misconception that their personal worth and significance are determined by the boy she is seen with at the party.
Does that mean that it’s Daisy’s fault? No, it is never the victim’s fault. A victim is not responsible for what someone else has chosen to do to them. Does that mean Daisy believed this lie? Not necessarily. Does it mean that Matthew intended to harm her when he picked her up for a good time? Maybe not. It does mean, however, that we as a culture have set our women up to be taken advantage of by perpetuating a false perception of femininity, which stems from our false perceptions about masculinity.
If there is ever to be justice for Daisy, we as a culture must intentionally restore true masculinity and femininity. In order for that to happen, we must look to the place where true masculinity has been most prominently displayed in human history. We must look to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Whether we admit it or not, mankind has wreaked havoc on God’s good creation. In our irresponsibility, we have done harm to ourselves, harm to one another and harm to our culture. God, in his loving kindness, saw the pain of our injustices and decided to do something about it, by entering into human history as the man Christ Jesus. He then lived the responsible, just life we should have lived, died the unjust death we should have died for our injustices and rose from the dead to bring justice by triumphing over injustice on the cross.
In short, Jesus demonstrated true masculinity by taking responsibility for our irresponsibility. He saw what was unjust about our world and he did something about it by sacrificing himself so that justice could be served. That’s true masculinity, taking responsibility for yourself and for others.
Jesus also elevated femininity. In his day, women were treated as sub-human. They were possessions to be owned rather than people to be valued. Yet Jesus had female disciples (unheard of in his day), rescued a sexually promiscuous woman from social injustice and gave a few of his female followers the privilege of being the first witnesses to his resurrection (In his day, women were not legally considered to be liable witnesses).
In other words, Jesus revealed true femininity by showing that women are as equally significant, meaningful and valued as men. He showed that a woman’s purpose and worth is not based on what she does for men, but on what God has done for her. That’s true femininity, understanding that you, as a woman, are highly valued in God’s sight as his image bearer.
Does justice for Daisy include legal consequences? Yes, absolutely. But it should also include much more than that and it doesn’t need to include public humiliation. It requires a return to true masculinity and femininity.
True justice for Daisy would require that Matthew Barnett experience a profound change of heart. It would mean that he recognize the injustice he has caused (even if it was unintentional), own up to it, take his consequences and change, permanently, by the grace of God, through the Son of God in the Spirit of God.
True justice for Daisy would be seeing her abuser become her advocate. It would mean seeing Matthew Barnett, by the work of Christ, becoming the type of man that takes responsibility for himself and for women like Daisy. It would mean Matthew opposing men like him rather than celebrating them. And it would mean Matthew one day defending women like Daisy, rather than abusing them.
Additionally, true justice for Daisy means understanding that we, like it or not, are all like Matthew. We each have had moments of irresponsibility and indiscretion, moments that could have meant disaster had we been found out. The difference is we didn’t get caught. For some of us, our irresponsibility is subtle and inward, like our thoughts, for others, it’s manifested in our actions. Others of us try to sweep our injustices (however minor they may seem) under the rug, like Robert Rice is accused of doing.
Regardless, we have each, in our irresponsibility, committed an injustice at some point in our past. We, too, deserve retribution for our wrong doings. Yet, God is exceedingly gracious and he allows us to enjoy life in spite of our wrongs. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t receive due consequences, but it does mean that we can be made new in Christ.
What Matthew did was inexcusable, but it is forgivable. The injustices we ourselves commit are also inexcusable, but they too are forgivable. Through Jesus, Matthew can have his injustice forgiven. He can experience a change of heart and live an entirely new life in Christ. Through Jesus, Daisy can experience true justice, the kind that changes an abuser’s heart, not just punishes his behavior. And, through Jesus, you and I can experience forgiveness for our injustices as well. No matter how dark our past, through Jesus we can have a brighter future.
Further, true justice for Daisy means that we need boys to become men who will model true masculinity by taking responsibility for themselves and for the women we should be protecting. It means that men need to be taught to stand up and speak up. They must be taught to stand up against the injustices committed by their peers as its happening, not after the crime is committed. They must be taught to speak up on behalf of those who could be victimized, before they’ve become victims not just after.
True justice for Daisy means that husbands model true masculinity to their wives by taking responsibility for loving, serving and caring for them, while fostering true femininity in the women they love.
True justice for Daisy means that fathers take responsibility for teaching and developing true masculinity and femininity in their children.
True justice for Daisy means that brothers take responsibility for treating ladies with value, dignity and worth simply because they are fellow image bearers of God.
True justice for Daisy means that men rise up and take responsibility for themselves and for the irresponsibility of others. It means men who will, by the grace of God, help Matthew Barnett own up to his mistakes, believe on what Christ has done and become a man who will “lead, be responsible and change the world for good.”² It also means that someone needs to help Daisy understand and believe that she does not have to be defined by what someone has done to her; she can be defined instead by what Jesus has done for her.
Ultimately, true justice for Daisy doesn’t mean pointing the finger or casting the blame. It means that our culture must redefine what it means to be masculine in a way that doesn’t require boys to subject girls to sexual injustice in order to be considered a man. It means redefining what it means to be feminine in a way that doesn’t require a girl to subject herself to irresponsible boys in order to be considered a woman. True justice for Daisy means that we stop celebrating the expectations that tempt boys and girls to find their value through sexual conquest.
It would mean that we instead start celebrating men who take responsibility for themselves and their peers. And it would mean that we start celebrating women who are confident that their sense of meaning and purpose come from who God made them to be rather than what the culture says they should be. Justice for Daisy means that we each take responsibility to intentionally restore our culture to true masculinity and femininity by first trusting the Lord to restore it in us. That would be true justice for Daisy.
***Note: The views expressed here are entirely my own. They do not necessarily represent the views of my employers.***
In our day, it’s common for many Christians to spend their time trying to blend into the fabric of society as if the goal of the Christian life were to hide like a chameleon in the shadows instead of shining Christ’s light in the darkness. The courageous faith that got early Christians publicly humiliated, imprisoned and even killed has long been sleeping for fear of a little criticism. The faith that fueled the addition of 3,000 converts in one sermon has, at times, grown silent. (Acts 2:14-41) It’s time to bring back the faith of our fathers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for beatings and imprisonment, but I am advocating for the kind of faith that’s willing to take a few risks in order to advance the gospel. Admittedly, things don’t seem to be going well for Christians right now. We’ve lost some traction and it’s because we’ve spent too much time trying to argue over tradition instead of identifying faithful ways to be relevant. As a result, many Christians have become so concerned about being identified with the outspoken, condescending and hypocritical religious types that we’ve stopped speaking up at all, but that’s not a good alternative either.
Ephesians 4:21-24 says, “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life… and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” The writer to the Ephesians is basically saying, Jesus has made you different, so live different. Through Jesus our sin is removed, we’re clothed in Christ’s perfection and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a new life. This new Christ-exalting life is what makes the difference in the lives of others.
Surprisingly, most unbelievers don’t care if you’re eccentric, they just want to know that you’re authentic. Our culture is starving for the authentic Christian message. People really do want to hear the good news about Jesus. They just want it to be from someone who is actually living it.
My wife and I host a church small group in our home each week. We connect with members and guests over a shared meal, enjoy quality time with unbelieving friends and discuss the sermon from the previous Sunday. Unlike most church small groups, ours is predominantly non-Christian. It’s not unusual for our group of 20 to have 5 to 10 non-churchgoing, unbelievers participating in our discussions.
When asked why they come, most of our unbelieving friends commonly confess that it’s because they were attracted to the authentic lifestyle of one of our Christian group members. When these unbelieving friends ask about that difference our group members honestly tell them that it’s because of Jesus.
After the shock wears off, our friends find themselves craving our Thursday night gatherings. They’re blown away that a group of Christians can disagree with their lifestyles and beliefs while still caring for and accepting them unconditionally as individuals. The result is that a good majority of our unbelieving friends become Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, God-honoring Christians.
Be a Difference-Maker
The truth is, you really can make a difference for Christ in the lives of your unbelieving friends, co-workers and family members, but doing so means both living differently and answering honestly. It also means taking the gospel serious. God unconditionally loves, approves of and accepts those who believe because of what Jesus has done, even in spite of our sins and short-comings. This should move Christians to love and care for sinners in much the same way.
When it comes down to it, being a difference-maker means being able to disagree with the sin in someone’s life, while simultaneously caring for and accepting them in spite of their short-comings, just like God does for those who believe in Christ. It means emphasizing the goodness of God’s grace instead of the atrocity of their sin. It means being honest about your own failures and short-comings, while celebrating Jesus as your hope for change. This is the kind of difference that makes the difference. This is the kind of faith we must return to if we ever hope to take God’s good news to to a world in need.
Every healthy, growing organization has a vision; a compelling statement that clarifies where the organization is going and how it intends to get there. It keeps people from getting lost in the daily grind. It unifies a group of people around a set of core purposes. It empowers people to accomplish great things together.
At Living Hope Church- Maryville, our vision is to reach Maryville and its surrounding communities for Jesus Christ by connecting people so they can encounter Jesus and live differently as his disciples.
Underneath all that we do at Living Hope is this deep, unrelenting need to help each other, our community and our culture encounter Jesus. This is the core of who we are, the essence of what we do.
To encounter Jesus is to experience his work in your life on a daily basis. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” When we encounter Jesus, he progressively begins to determine who we are and how we live. Along the way, we then learn to live the lifestyle that God wants us to live as we’re empowered by his Spirit.
Through Jesus we can experience God’s grace, receive forgiveness, undergo life change and be empowered by his Spirit to live his ways. By faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus we can know and live for God as Jesus progressively rules our lives. This is what it means to encounter Jesus. This is the heart of what we’re about at Living Hope.
This can seem more overwhelming than it actually is. Here are 6 simple ways to encounter Jesus in your daily life.
1. Preach the Gospel to Yourself Daily. We all face those moments when we’re tempted to believe lies that lead us into sin and temptation. When those moments come we can encounter Jesus by reflecting on who he is and what he has done. Simply remind yourself that you are defined, accepted, forgiven and empowered not by what you do, but by what Jesus has done for you on the cross. Tell yourself that the grace of God enables you to submit all areas of your life to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit at work with in you. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
2. Read the Bible. The Bible is God’s literal word to us. It clearly reveals the person and work of Jesus Christ. By reading God’s Word daily we gain a better understanding of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. As we read Scripture the Holy Spirit does work in our lives and we encounter Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
3. Pray Continually. Experience the work of Jesus in your life by praying throughout the day. Invite Jesus to govern every aspect of your life. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your every decision. Pray before, during and after your daily activities. Ask God for his grace. Ask for the Lord to do ongoing renovations to the home of your life. Ask for opportunities to make disciples. Your prayers don’t have to be extensive, but if you want to encounter Jesus they do need to be intentional. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
4. Worship Freely. To worship God is to give him all we are, all we have and all we do all the time. It is to live for God as our glad response to the work of Jesus in our lives. We can worship God through singing, talking with friends, playing sports and doing any other activity so long as we’re doing them to honor God. We can encounter Jesus in the daily activities of life by simply doing them for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
5. Participate in Community. When we spend time together with other people our perspective of the gospel gets enriched. Each person brings a unique understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ that we would otherwise not have if we didn’t hear it from them. We encounter Jesus through community as we learn more about him from one another. (Acts 2:42-47)
6. Share the Gospel & Make Disciples. Most people learn best by teaching others. There is something about helping others learn to believe the gospel and live for Jesus that helps us know and understand Jesus better in our own lives. By teaching others to believe in and obey the Lord they encounter Jesus and we end up encountering him as well. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
What are some ways that you encounter Jesus daily? You can leave a comment here.
By God’s grace, I became the Location Pastor at the Living Hope Church Maryville campus two months ago. This was something I knew God called me to five years earlier. Since then, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how they can know God’s call for them. I believe you can know in five ways: your heart, year head, your hands, your opportunities and the observations of others.
First, the heart refers to the central command center of your life. It is the place of your desires and affections. In 1 Timothy 3:1, Paul says “if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” In other words, God puts into a person’s heart the desires that fuel his calling. I knew God was calling me to be a pastor because the overwhelming desire of my heart was to equip God’s people to make disciples. When you’re called, doing anything other than your calling seems absolutely absurd. You think about it, you dream about it, you obsess over it. This is because a calling is not a passion that you possess, it is a passion that possesses you. More importantly, when Jesus is the desire of your heart you can trust your desires. What is the desire of your heart? This is the first clue to your calling.
Second, God’s calling is revealed in your head. This refers to your capacity to plan and to consider potential outcomes. When God calls you, he often helps you understand the call. I knew that God was calling me to pastor because he began to bring plans and direction to what it would look like for me to do so. I didn’t have to force myself to comprehend the details, God showed me over time as I followed the desire he put in my heart. Can you see yourself doing what God has placed on your heart even if it doesn’t make complete sense at the moment? If so, you’re probably called.
Third, God confirms his call through your hands. This is a reference to skills. When God calls you to something he will provide the skills for you to do it. A commanding officer doesn’t send his troops into battle without equipping them with the right training and artillery. Neither does God. The skills; however, often develop supernaturally over time as we submit to Jesus and rely on the Holy Spirit. God confirmed his call for me to pastor by developing gifts for preaching, teaching, leadership, training and disciple-making. These were skills that I had to work at, but they were also skills God has given me a smudge of favor in. What abilities do you possess that you either do well or seem to have an exceptional amount of God’s favor in? God will likely use these to help shape your calling and they will compliment what’s in your heart and head.
Opportunities (Philippians 1:12-13, 20)
Fourth, a person’s calling is often revealed through consecutive opportunities over time. You’re probably not just going to wake up and realize what your calling is. You’re going to have to try a few things before God makes it clear to you. I knew God was calling me to pastor through several opportunities: He provided the opportunity to disciple my teammates to Christ through team-specific ministry on my college football team, I was asked to lead a Community Group at church and as need arose I helped people understand difficult theological and doctrinal truths while equipping them to make disciples. As this pattern continued, God made it clear he wanted me lead the Maryville Campus. What pattern of opportunities do you see in your life? These are how God develops your heart, head and hands.
Finally, the outside observations of others can also clarify God’s call on your life. When a person is called, everyone seems to know it. For as long as I can remember, people have asked me if I was going to be a pastor. It was a common question after I became a Christian. As I prayed about being a pastor I asked God to confirm this calling through others. He did, time and again. I didn’t have to mention to others that I should be the Location Pastor at Living Hope Church, other people did it for me. This confirmed what he was already revealing through my heart, head, hands and opportunities. What have people observed in you? These observations are key to unlocking the common thread of God’s call in your life.
A Final Thought
No one indicator is enough to confirm God’s call in your life. You may not have all five, but a pattern should develop. When God aligns your life around one core purpose, you know that you’ve got the makings of a calling. Remember, God determines your calling. If you want to know what it is, ask him to show you through these five areas. When it’s unclear take comfort in knowing that God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go. Submit to Jesus, rely on the Holy Spirit and seek God!
What has God taught you about calling? You can leave a comment here.