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Entries in Purpose (11)


Myths about your calling


Calling happens more quickly for others. 
No.  What we see as 'success' in another is merely the long and arduous accumulation of tears, testing and time.  We're merely seeing them on this particular summit.  Calling shouldn't be thought of in terms of months or years; but often, decades.

The journey of calling shouldn't be this hard. 
No.  As John Churton Collins says, a person often fails "because he thinks what is difficult is easy."

Your calling is only valuable when you're getting paid or recognized for it. 
No.  You know your true art and calling when you're willing to do it whether or not anyone sees it or pays for it. You do it because your heart won't let you do anything less. I've tried several times to quit: I couldn't. My heart wouldn't let it go.

Impact is measured by newsletter subscribers and social media "reach." 
No.  None of these existed when Jesus healed dying bodies or launched human history's defining revolution.  Paul and Barnabas received their direction from the Holy Spirit to "go there" or "avoid that town"  increasing the Gospel's "reach" and rootedness.  Technology can be a tremendous vehicle for delivering our message, but there is no substitute for the direct voice of the Holy Spirit and his outpowering of power.

Taking up your cross is the opposite of following your heart's desire.
No.  As a Christian, your heart is now alive with the very goodness of Jesus.  The desires of that heart are noble and ought to be pursued.  [Your 'flesh' may have other, ignoble desires, but we're talking about your new heart's desires here.] Taking up our cross and following our heart's desire are the same thing.  Following your heart's desire and calling may be the hardest thing you could ever pursue.  But that's what noble people do.

 You and your calling are already fully approved:  I can hear the Stadium of Witnesses roar with the Lion. 


Related posts:

Futility is a man's deepest fear

What does calling have to do with your heart?

Video:  'The Long Desire'

Podcast:  'Calling As a Journey:'  with guest Gary Barkalow, author of "It's Your Call"





New podcast - DEVELOPING THE HEART NEEDED FOR OUR CALLING - special guest Gary Barkalow joins Jim

What qualities of heart are needed as we mature in our calling?  These are the qualities that will keep us from inadvertently sabotaging what we most truly want. 

Special guest, Gary Barkalow [author of the upcoming book on calling, It's Your Call - What Are You Doing Here?]  joins Jim for part six of their seven-part series.

*  You can listen to the other podcasts in the "Calling Series" here.

*  Download in iTunes.


What does 'calling' have to do with your heart?

You may be wondering why a guy like me, who typically speaks about the heart, is talking about 'calling' lately. 

The first reason is that the topic of calling is part of a book I'm working on.  Second, because you can't find your calling without believing Christ has given you a good and noble heart.  Calling flows from heart.

Within your new heart lie the clues to your place in the Story - your 'calling.'  These clues come in the form of your deep desires, as well as the story your heart has been living in.   Beneath the defining events of your life, the pattern of wounds, the activities that made you come alive, something was happening in your heart - shaping it, calling it up and out.  Your heart has a unique history and a story to tell.

If you believe your heart is deceitful and selfish, it will be hard to see your deep desires and to believe that there are now good and noble desires within your new and noble heart.

That's why I write about calling.  Calling flows from heart.



The Trinity is a clue to calling

Just about anything of importance can be figured out by watching the Trinity in action.  This includes our individual callings as unique persons.

We don't have one God wearing three different hats:  we have one God in three distinct persons.  All possessing ultimate divinity, yet living out unique roles.  Let's take a look:

The Father:  the Sender  ["As the Father has sent me..."]

The Son:  the Bridge  ["Therefore, since we have a great high priest ..., Jesus"]

The Spirit:  the Counselor  ["But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, ... will teach you all things and will remind you of all..."]

Clearly, there's a fluidity and overlap to the roles of each person in the Trinity, but the distinctness of those roles is also true.  That's why you and I have distinct roles and callings in the Body of Christ.  Remember, as the Trinity goes, so goes the Body:  Whatever is in the Trinity flows towards us.

What unique calling do you have, your distinct offering to others?




Badly underestimating a life

On NPR today, a man was being interviewed who had made it his year-long quest to bake the perfect loaf of bread. 

My first thought was, "This guy has badly underestimated the cosmic drama unfolding around him."  My second thought was, "This guy has a really lackluster sense of his own personal calling."

Don't misunderstand me:  I think freshly-baked bread is one of life's true pleasures.  In fact, today I enjoyed a sandwich made with a nutty garlic and potato artisan bread:  Nourishing and hand-crafted.  But taking a year of my life to learn how to bake the perfect loaf isn't something that strikes me as urgent or enduring.  Rather, it strikes me as a bit naive. 

He has miscalculated two things:  the unfolding Story into which he has been invited; and his place in that Story.  It's much like the journalist in the movie, Saving Private Ryan, who had never seen battle before.  He's been asked to join a rescue operation.  He wants to bring his clunky and cumbersome typewriter; but the Captain, played by Tom Hanks says, "Here, take this instead" and hands him a pencil. The journalist didn't know what to take because he sorely underestimated the unfolding circumstances:  He wasn't taking another desk job  -  he was about to engage in field ops, where he would get shot at.

Surely the man who took a year of his life to pursue the perfect loaf has much more to offer the world -- a more needed and substantial treasure to give.   If our naivete persists, we might as well bring cookies and punch to flood victims; and board games to the clinically-depressed.  Surely much more is needed than that.


When your job stinks...

What do you do when your job doesn't reflect what you really love?

It’s helpful to think of a particular job (the thing that brings home the bacon) as a divine appointment or commission.  It may be for a few months or longer; but for that time and place, and to those people, God is asking us to bring our unique presence.  They need you there -- even if they don't know it.

The problem is, most of us don’t know whether or not that particular job is God's divine assignment for us:   It might be.  It might not be.  What if God's not asking you to stay there?  It’s always helpful to ask God the question: "Is this where you want me for this time?"  

When the job gets particularly tough or the people you interact with become particularly frustrating, it will strengthen you to know that God has sent you there [if he, in fact, has], for at least a time.  It’s a lot harder to put up with those things if you don’t know you’re supposed to be there.

He's also training you for what is to come.  Not punishing you ... training you.  Your going to need what you'll gain in this time of development and cultivation.  You don't want to rush the field without the proper training:  Many have and many have lost heart because of it.

Ask God whether or not he's assigned you there... then trust.







Interview with Gary Barkalow on discovering your calling

Tomorrow, on BlogTalk Radio, I will be interviewing Gary Barklow on the topic of "discovering your calling."  Gary was formerly on the men's leadership and speaking team with Ransomed Heart Ministries. 

Gary's teaching on calling is the best and most helpful I've found.  You can learn more about Gary at his website:  www.thenobleheart.com

Here's the link to tomorrow's interview with Gary.


Seven quotes on 'CALLING'

Heart and callling are inextricably linked:  you can't know your calling without knowing the deep desires of your heart -- and believing that they are trustworthy.  Within your new heart lie desires God is awakening. Here are some quotes on 'calling:'


  • “For the most part, I do the thing which my own nature prompts me to do.  It is embarrassing to earn so much respect and love for it.”  -- Albert Einstein

  • “Progress is not created by contented people.”  -- Frank Tyger

  • “Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born.  And what is it that reason demands of him?  Something very easy – that he live in accordance with his own nature.”  (Seneca)

  • “The place God calls you to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”   -- Frederick Buechner

  • "[Our] original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all . . . rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather."   --Frederick Buechner

  • "What I do is me: For that, I came."  -- Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • "What is in you that is so unique, that if you don't live with it, the Kingdom of God will live without it?"  -- Gary Barkalow, www.thenobleheart.com

Listen to the podcast"A life of desire"

Listen to the podcast"Recovering our desire"

How about you?  Do you have any quotes on calling/purpose you can share?


The pleasure of your purpose

I once asked someone how a person discovers their purpose. Let's face it, many people are stuck in jobs they despise, spending endless hours engaged in actities that mean almost nothing to them.  And they are hungry for more. 

The person I asked quoted Frederick Buechner (who is always good to quote) saying, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”


So what brings you a vitality of heart, so that when you are engaged in it, you "feel his pleasure" as the great Scottish runner, Eric Liddell, once said; and you feel your pleasure?  Where is your deep gladness, your raison d'etre? 

You must listen to your heart, but will find it very difficult to do so if you do not begin trusting the deep desires God has placed there.  After all, you have a new heart, and new set of desires that will guide you if you listen to them.  God has given you permission to do so.


Man's ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born.  And what is it that reason demands of him?  Something very easy - that he live in accordance with his own nature."