Seeking God’s will for your life begins by asking yourself, “What keeps me awake when I should be falling asleep at night?”
For five years, I was part of the team that produced [email protected] magazine, a publication committed to wrestling through issues of faith and vocation. We had a definition of calling that formed the foundation of our work, and I still believe it to be better than most: “God’s personal invitation for me to work on His agenda, using the talents I’ve been given in ways that are eternally significant.”
For some of us, the invitation just appears in our mailbox one day with our name on it. But for most of us, it takes time and prayer and a period of discerning.
Asking the right questions is crucial for discerning one’s calling.
Oftentimes, we fail to ask the correct questions and then wonder why our answers are so dissatisfying. Seeking God’s will for your life begins by asking yourself, “What keeps me awake when I should be falling asleep at night?” The answer will expose what makes you mad, what makes you cry, what lingers in your mind when the world goes dark.
The second question you should ask yourself is, “What wakes me up when I should still be sleeping in the morning?” The answer will uncover what you value, what you’re committed to and what excites you.
Asking questions like these is key to finding the right answers. Here are several others I think are helpful for deciphering God’s invitation to you:
1. What are your passions and gifts? At the intersection of these two elements, you’ll find your purpose in life.
2. What would you work on or want to do for free? That is usually a good sign of what God has designed you to do.
3. What energized you when you were a child? Does it still animate you? Knowing your calling is often directly connected to childhood passions and gifts.
4. If you could do anything and take a pay cut, what would that be? You may have to blow up your financial goals in order to pursue your true calling.
5. What barriers are preventing you from pursuing your true calling? Can you begin removing those?
6. If you aren’t engaging your gifts and talents where you find yourself now, could you make changes in your current role to better engage those? Don’t rule out the possibility that where you are is where you need to be.
When you’ve answered these questions, I suggest drafting a calling statement for your life. Remember to write in pencil, not ink, as it may change over time. My own calling statement reads, “To influence influencers through gathering, inspiring, connecting and equipping them to become change makers.”
Take the time to draft your own statement, because God has a unique purpose that He desires to carry out in you. It’s your niche, your uniqueness, that specific and significant thing God has for you. Sure, others will do similar work to yours, but they can’t do it exactly like you. Why?
Because you’re the only you there is.
Being a catalyst leader means you are working to identify, understand and pursue God’s unique call on your life with passion and patience. And once you locate that calling, guard it as a precious treasure.
Higher calling matters. When you care so deeply about the why — why you’re doing what you’re doing — then and only then are you operating in a way that allows you to overcome the obstacles. — Dave Ramsey, author and radio host
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, we find Frodo wondering why he has been chosen to carry the magical ring on such a perilous journey. Like us, Frodo doubts that a meager man like himself could effectively carry out such a daunting task. “But you have been chosen,” Gandalf says to Frodo, “and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”
Reflecting on this great line, author and pastor John Ortberg says, “This sense of having been called — the worthiness of it, the glorious goodness of a life lived beyond an individual’s agenda — is a precious thing. It is sometimes subverted into grandiosity. It is perhaps more often lost in the ministry of the mundane. It needs to be guarded.”
As we locate the warm embers of God’s calling inside ourselves, we must faithfully fan those flames. God desires for a sense of mission to burn within us, driving us forward in the perilous journey we call life.
My high school graduation is a distant memory, but the spark of purpose I felt that day has continued to burn. I believe God has a unique purpose that He desires to carry out in every single person He creates. He’s carved a specific and significant path for us all. This divine course is not mysterious or evasive, but walking it likely requires sacrifices. Yet you’re guaranteed to gain much more than you forfeit.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson, Inc.