To Be Called

Psalm 34, Isaiah 49:1-6, 1 Corinthians 4:1-16 (read online ⧉)

What does it mean to be called? That is a question many people ask themselves at various points in their lives. When we were children, the question could be, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Granted, in family businesses there could be an assumption of “call” which presents its own dangers. As we enter the teenage years, identity beings to become a focus (“Who am I?”). This will often take shape and be shaped by activities and friends. In the last decade, or so, we’ve seen a new trend, and that is “calling” children to more and more activities or to multiple seasonal versions of the same activity (often sports). Young teenagers are now being pushed to decide career paths while figuring out who they are, as certain decisions (such as the fantastic programs of Running Start, College in the Classroom, and AP courses) affect college decisions, and potentially financial-aid decisions, too. As the average lifespan increases, we are beginning to compress the childhoods that many of us treasured to resemble earlier eras. Also, as lifespans increase, career changes (not just jobs) are becoming increasingly common. That is one of the interesting pieces, as our jobs are increasingly less of our identity.

Isaiah did not have a question of his identity to a great degree. Since he felt that he was called before he was born, it was likely that he followed seers or prophets or sages. He was probably often following priests and scribes, too. It was his identity. It was his calling. It certainly wasn’t an easy one. It might have given him resilience during his prophetic ministry, and it certainly isolated him from others. Paul describes himself as a “manager” of the mysteries of God. It is a strange calling, but it was his.

Do not judge yourself, or your calling, by Isaiah, Paul, or any others in the Scriptures. Evaluate your call against them for insight and wisdom. Each person in the Scriptures was unique and uniquely called, just like you.

N.T. Wright (former bishop now educator and researcher) recently said, “…I think a lot of people feel guilty that there are some things which maybe when they were called…they thought they would be doing. And they either didn’t seem to be very good at it or they didn’t get the opportunity to do it. And I really want to say that we all have our particular gifts. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact that there are some gifts that we might have thought we were going to be given in ministry or whatever, which we don’t have…I think of extreme examples of people who served God with everything that they’ve got, in a very what looks like to most of us a very bleak and obscure way. I think of Alexander Cruden, who did the great concordance couple hundred years ago. And, and he was, we would today say he was really far out on a spectrum. He was quite an unbalanced individual. But he needed to be like that for the very odd job that God had for him, which was producing—by hand—a concordance which served the church amazingly well for a very long time. And I possess my grandfather’s copy of cretins, concordance, and it was a great help before all the modern computerized stuff can So I really want to say if somebody has an academic bent or a bent for lexicography, or… if somebody has the real pastoral ability to spend hours working with, say, Children in Need or at risk or families that are in trouble, …that’s fine. God needs those gifts.”

Sometimes we are blind to our gifts and/or our calling. Other times people will ask for our help and we realize that it isn’t our call, but something connected is. The question isn’t, “are you called?” The question is, “What are you doing with your calling?”

1) Do you know what your calling is? If not, who are some mature Christians you know that could help you figure it out? If you do, how did you come to that conclusion?

2) Do you think your calling has or will ever change?