Saturday, October 12, 2013

What's Your Calling?

In my line of work, I regularly interact with people whose gifts and callings from God are highly visible—well-known pastors, authors, speakers. These are people whose names you recognize. They’re writing books, starting ministries, speaking to crowds of thousands, changing lives and changing the world. 

They’re blazing a trail for the kingdom in very public and significant ways.

I love working with these amazing men and women. I’m deeply honored to be part of the team helping them communicate the messages God has entrusted to them. 

In case you are wondering what these well-known Christians are like, let me assure you: they are regular people—just like you and me. They are humble, gracious, and servant-hearted. They’re the kind of folks you’d love to invite over for coffee. These men and women just so happen to have received and embraced a calling from God that is huge and significant.

But you know what?

You and I also have callings from God that are huge and significant. They may not be as visible as, say, a top-billed speaker or best-selling author, but that doesn't make our callings any less significant for the kingdom.

Let me tell you about another group of people I get to interact with regularly.

*   A man who enjoys doing yard work. He doesn't have a two-piece suit and a pulpit, but he has two strong arms and a green thumb. When he noticed a single mom who desperately needed help with her lawn he showed up, offering to mow and weed and even do some landscaping. His “platform” is his pruning shears, and he has spoken Christ into my family’s life as much as any preacher.

*    A young mother who loves to bake. She’s chasing around two small children and barely has time to take a shower much less speak to crowds, but she makes amazing cookies—and she loves to bake for those who need to know someone cares about them. Her “platform” is her oven, and she shares the love of Christ with a smile—and snickerdoodles.

*    A grandfather whose house is one of the main attractions in his neighborhood at Christmas. His collection of holiday decorations grows every year. And when he saw a newly single mom who didn't have the ladder—or the levity—to decorate her home, he showed up with a truckful of lights and gave her and her kids the brightest, happiest Christmas house they’d ever seen. He doesn't write best-sellers, but he wrote unspeakable joy into our hearts with the delight he took in the simple act of shining the light of Christ into our Christmas.

I have a "gratitude journal" filled with precious memories of how people have ministered to the kids and me these past two years. Most of them are ordinary men and women who are doing small things—behind-the-scenes and anonymous things—that are huge and significant callings. 

Indulge me in giving you a few more examples, in case you can see yourself in any of these:

·         The woman whose gift is her presence. She stuck by my side through the worst hours of my life, literally walking beside me when I could barely think or speak or breathe. Her gift is her friendship—and her simple act of being there has blessed me more than I could ever describe.

·         The young mom whose gift is her prayersShe came to my home and prayed over each room, filling each corner and crevice of our home with the light of God’s love.

·         The many, many people who gave us financial gifts.Encouraging notes that would arrive in our mailbox, on our porch, or in person with a gift card… a check… cash… all accompanied by, “I just felt like God wanted me to send this…” or “Praying for you and the kids…” Sometimes a significant amount. Sometimes a small amount. Yet always exactly what we needed. Always exactly when we needed it. All these people, receiving and embracing God’s call to share every good thing to those in need. 

·         The young couple whose gift was their service. They gathered some friends, did some shopping, and showed up with Christmas gifts for all my children.

·         The men whose gift is handyman workThey have fixed cabinets, moved furniture, changed light bulbs, set up electronics, and have taken care of all my honey-dos—with gracious and willing hearts.

·         The friends who gave the gift of a family photo sessionThey wanted the kids and me to know that our family was not broken but whole. Their gift of a family portrait finally helped us see ourselves the way others—and God—see the four of us: as complete, healthy, and whole.

·         The friends who gave the gift of mealsThey knew that delicious cuisine is best served with delightful companionship, so they brought us meals—and then sat around our table and ate the meals with us, filling not only our tummies but our hearts with their love.

·         The women whose gift is childcareThey would invite my kids over to play with theirs so I could work or simply have a moment to myself to breathe.

·         The grandmothers whose gift is their time. Oh, how my mom’s sweet Bible study ladies have blessed my socks off! They flocked to the house when I needed help. They inventoried and cleaned and purged my home, taking care of all the details I couldn’t bear to deal with at the time. They show up at a moment’s notice whenever I need anything.

·         The people who gave us the gift of a safe place to stay.I have keys to their homes and an open invitation to come on in if the kids and I ever need a safe place. Their gift is their hospitality—and their home.

·         The friends who gave the gift of what they had—graciously passing down clothes and shoes and movies and toys for my kids. I cannot tell you how much this has blessed us!

·         The man who is a computer whiz. He took care of my computer issues, even removing and safely storing files I didn’t have the emotional strength to open.

·         The woman whose gift is thoughtfulness. She helped my kids to buy a Mother’s Day present and still sends me flowers on my birthday, knowing that every girl loves to have flowers. Her thoughtfulness fills my home with the sweet fragrance of Christ.

·         The man whose gift is numbersHis sweet spot is spreadsheets—so he came over and sorted through all my paperwork, getting my bills and budget in order.

·         The women whose gift is room in their car. Every school day, their kids scoot over and let my kids join them on the way home from school, giving me the precious gift of extra time to work and provide for my family.

I could go on and on and on. (Like I said, I have a whole journal full of these!) I haven’t even begun to list the many people who serve us through various ministries at our church, including Sunday school, the single parents’ ministry, and our community group, as well as friends who have simply welcomed us into their homes as an extended part of their families. 

But hopefully this brief list is enough to demonstrate that no matter how God has gifted us—as an author, speaker, photographer, accountant, or carpool mom—our callings are essential to the body of Christ.

Whether our names are on the cover of a book or merely in the pages of someone’s gratitude journal, God has given each of us a calling that is huge and significant. 

So has God called you to write a book? Then write it with all your heart! (And I'd be honored to help polish it.)

Has God called you to preach or speak to crowds? Then preach and speak boldly and faithfully the Word of God with all your heart!

Has God called you to mow lawns, or bake cookies, or visit nursing homes, or care for children, or move furniture, or crunch numbers, or carpool? Whatever your sweet spot that God has given you to serve others, then respond to that calling with all your heart!

May we be faithful to receive and embrace our callings, no matter how big or small they may seem in our limited perspective. Because in God's eyes, there are no "small" callings.

One day, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with celebrities and unknowns, each of us will hear our same Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.

—Ephesians 4:11-13 NCV