Two weeks ago, I began the first steps in following God’s calling on my life for me to be in full-time ministry. My husband and I both felt that God is now telling us that I should not continue teaching middle school, so that I can devote my time and energy to working for God. Walking away from the safe and secure job of teaching to go into ministry is very challenging to my faith and trust in God. As I have started down this exciting path of solely following God’s calling with no back up plan and no security blanket, here are some things I have learned…
#1- Spend Time With God
It is amazing to me how quickly I forget to seek God’s presence every day. I fall into the lie that I am too busy to have prayer time and Bible study before I start my day. I’m busy being with people, busy running errands. Busy, but not in tune with God’s voice through His word nor are we trusting Him with our requests/needs.
God tells us He will prosper us and give us good success, even going as far as saying, “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
But notice the command in the previous verse – God tells the people of Israel to make sure His word does not depart from their mouths, to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8-9). Here’s the thing I have found over the last 2 weeks – if I focus on one hour with God in the morning, then everything else falls into place, including my schedule, ministry and even finances. This was a habit that Jesus himself had, as we can see in Mark 1:35-36. He was getting up early in the morning, while it was still dark, to spend the first few hours of the day with His Father. Look at how strong His healing and preaching ministry was, and, in the same way, your calling will be greatly affected by how much time you spend with God. Let Him set your day and He will prepare and bless you in the calling He has given you.
#2- Trust God’s Will
The Bible is filled with verses where God says to trust Him and His ways, but what is the first thing to fade when life shakes us up? Yep, it is our trust! Our faith wavers and our trust falls to the ground, usually over something simple. Money? Time? Methods? Confused on what to do? No idea how God is going to make your calling work?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct Your ways.”
Trusting means that we don’t allow doubts or fears to enter into our minds or our words. The formula is very easy – trust God and He will direct us. One easy way to build trust is by giving thanks to God for what He has done and will do for us. Many, many chapters in the Psalms talk about giving thanks as a form of trusting God. Did you know that giving thanks is God’s will for us?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
#3- Live Generously
In God’s economy, giving to others opens a door for God to bless us. James 4:3 says that, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” When I quit working 2 weeks ago, I was really worried about money and how it was all going to work out. God pointed me to this principle and told me to give and let him bring the increase. So, I told Him I would try to, I just needed the opportunity.
It doesn’t make sense that we would say we are trying to follow God’s calling if we are not keeping with the basics of Christianity. Love, generosity, and kindness. These qualities should flow from us, because we know we can trust God to provide and take care of us just as He promised to do.
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. (Proverbs 11:24)
Remember the parable that Jesus told about the talents? In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of 3 servants who were each given different amounts of money and told to use it while their master was out of town. 2 of the servants invested the money and doubled it, while the one with the least amount of money just kept it hidden and safe. When the master came back home, he was so mad that the one servant had not used the gift for anything (not even for himself!), that the master split the amount among the 2 servants who had invested their portions of money. The same is true with what God has given us as our natural and spiritual abilities. We need to start using them!
Identify Your Calling
I know, you are thinking, ‘yep, here we go, but God has not given me a special ministry.’ Okay, now don’t get discouraged, at least wait until I explain. For 4 years, God called me to be a teacher and I did it with all the passion and energy I had. I spent time in prayer each day as I prepared for my students to come to my classroom. I walked the playground and prayed God’s blessings over those kids, and I called down God’s protection and grace during escalating situations with my students. I had a calling for 4 years to minister to these kids who may have never heard me say God’s name, but they saw my faith in how I treated them and taught them. Then, God turned my calling from teaching middle school to teaching in ministry.
Our protest to identifying our calling comes from the fear that it is not important enough or that it will change. If you have sought God’s best in your life and followed what He told you, you are living in your calling. No calling is too small or too short, because God needs you to reach the people within your circle as well. Maybe that is the person whose hand you hold as you finish a shift at the nursing home or maybe it is the moms you get to encourage as you pick your kid up from preschool. What matters is that it’s all done for the glory of God.
As Paul said in Ephesians 4:1, I “implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” and to stay faithful in following God no matter where He is putting you right now.