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Is there a SPECIFIC calling for each of us?

Is "calling" simply doing whatever is in front of us - just living from our heart wherever we find ourselves; or did God intend something more specific and tailored for each of us?  In other words, is calling general or specific? 

There's certainly validity in assuming calling is general -- that each of us should love and relate from the new reality of Christ-within, wherever we find ourselves.  But I'd suggest that there's more:  Paul had a specific calling to Gentiles; Moses was to rescue Israel from Egyptian tyranny; and Jesus' calling was to reveal the Father.  There was intent and deliberate direction in each of those cases.  Movement with meaning.

There's a reason you have the gifts you do -- they benefit a certain group of people who need exactly what you offer.  There are also contexts that will be more suitable to your passions and skills than others.  For example, the institutional church was not an appropriate context for my gifts.  As a former pastor, I was even told right from the start that I would never find a role in the system where I could bring what I most wanted to.  If only I had known then how true that would be.

God intended something distinct and distinguishing when he introduced you to the world.  You clearly have latitude and a voice in shaping your unfolding story; but it's better to move through life knowing the specific thing (s) you offer.  Christ lives in you, as you:  He has bound himself to your personality, your experiences, and your unique brilliance.  There's nothing general about you. 

“You have so many extraordinary gifts.  How can you expect to live an ordinary life?”   -- Marmie’s counsel to Jo in Little Women.

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Reader Comments (5)

Hey Jim,

I like your quote here from Little Women. It can feel burdensome to be unique. It's so contrary to what the world would have us do and it's easy to be ostracized by it for our uniqueness and special God-given gifts. It takes guts to be who we really are unapologetically.

There's a saying on mugs and t-shirts that always gets me..."Well-behaved women rarely make history." Women and men, too---the ones I admire the most have turned the world on its head in a good way and faced amazing difficulties in doing so.... When I feel like I'm slightly losing my nerve I remember, 'What can man do to me?"


March 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

Hi Meredith -- I also admire people who live from their identity, rather than other people's scripts for them. It will often cost us -- but it's always worth it.

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbinss

Jim, I've been listening to your podcast with Gary Barkalow and you've really got me thinking about the topic of callings. I've never really thought much about them but I guess I've just accepted the institutional way of thinking about them.

I think we all have a general calling which is what unites us to the rest of the body of Christ but we also have our own unique calling as to how that will be expressed through us. We're all unique and God has put unique desires in our heart and out of these flow our unique calling.

This is a great topic which I hope you'll discuss again.

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAida

Hi Aida, You're right -- though we do have a general calling that all Christ-followers share in, there's more to us -- a particularity, a unique affect we have on others.

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

Jim, I really like the word affect. That just makes it a lot clearer for me. Leadership teachers like to use the word influence but that leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth since it can denote some manipulation. Affect, however, speaks to me of how people respond to us when we're just being who God created us to be and I like that.

March 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAida

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