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SUMMONED: What Does It Mean to Be Called?

Do I Have a Calling?

I’m a definite believer that a meaningful life is a happier life!  But you don’t have to take my word for it. Research has proven that people who have a greater sense of purpose or meaning in life tend to be happier, less depressed, and less anxious*. 

The direct route to a meaningful life is to operate your life’s calling.

Way too often the word calling is referred to in a ministry capacity and is implied to be reserved for pastors, evangelists, missionaries and other ministers of the gospel. Well, today I declare, to be called simply means to be summoned.  To be invited. 

Everyone Christian is called.  And, I take it a step further and say, even before you accepted Christ, you were called. 

How It Starts Out

In school always hated those classes where you know the answer is always going to start with, “well, it depends…”  I am a numbers and rationale type of gal.  I don’t want to hear it depends, I want to know the exact process to the exact answer!  Unfortunately, since everyone’s calling is specific to their inner bent, their level of faith, and their own will, how one’s life calling catches ones attention, well…it depends.  There could be a feeling of general discontentment with the direction of your life and the normal status quo.  You can have an absolutely stable and successful life and become utterly unsettled, unfulfilled or even bored.  On the total opposite side of the spectrum, your life could be characterized by absolute chaos, pain, suffering, or hopelessness.  In either case, you will typically find yourself desperate for something more. You might struggle with thoughts like, “There has got to be more to life than this,” or  “I am meant for something bigger than this, I just know it,” or “This is not all there is to life, can’t be”. 

Who It is For

Everyone. Yes, even non-believers. When Samuel first heard God call his name, he didn’t even know the Lord (I Samuel 3:7).   Sure, Samuel’s parents had dedicated him to the service of the Lord (if you aren’t familiar with the story read it in I Samuel 1), but Samuel had no personal relationship with the Lord.  When Samuel heard his name called, he ran to his teacher and mentor—Eli the Priest.  Why? Well, think of a time you’ve heard your name called.  It catches your attention and causes you to seek out the caller.  To identify who called, you’d either try to identify the voice or you’d look for a familiar face.  Right?  We can assume that the voice of God either sounded like Eli, or Samuel ran to him because he was the person with whom Samuel was most familiar.  Therefore, I suggest that you don’t have to be a Christian to be called (I know, I know…if you’ve grown up in the church this one may sound like blasphemy.  Keep reading!) 

What Are the Prerequisites?

We are taught to think that only people in ministry or in positions of authority, financial influence, or social influence have a calling and an important purpose to fulfill.  We are taught to value titles, credentials, and power. There was a time when I was consumed with worry about being the only person I knew who didn’t have a calling.  It didn’t matter where I was—in young adult ministry group, or in the office—I remember feeling very alienated and insecure about not having a clear grasp on what I was called to. Let me say this as clearly and loudly as I can:  “a calling is not limited to titles, credentials, power and influence!”  Your life’s calling is significant and necessary because of its impact on those to whom you’ve been assigned”.   And guess what else?  Your calling is dynamic…that is, it can change with the seasons of your life.  Since your calling is how you fulfill purpose, it can look different throughout your lifetime. And I always encourage people not to minimize the seasons when walking in your calling seems menial or not as impactful as you’d like.

What the Call Is To?

First and foremost, the initial calling is always into relationship.  We see this time and again.  For instance, with Moses (Genesis 3:4-6), God gets his attention with the burning bush, then calls out his name. Once Moses walks over to the bush, God introduces Himself and His holiness.  Jump into the New Testament and we need look no further than Jesus, himself.  He first invited the disciples into relationship with a simple, “follow me”.  For us, this call is our invitation to salvation.  The second type of call is the call to a higher standard (sanctification).  An invitation to elevate your life by actually laying it down.  I like the Passion Translation of Matthew 16:25 which says, “For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your life for my glory, you will continually discover true life”.  Answering this call means living at a higher level of dependence, trust, and faith.  It can be quite uncomfortable answering this call, because to elevate your faith and your life, often means some parts of your current life (and even your current self) have to die in order to give birth to the new. Level two is where many Christians fallout. It’s also the place where non-believers point to where Christianity fails, unfortunately.  Christianity ain’t for the faint at heart for sure!  Finally, and most sought after by the believer and non-believer alike is the call that leads to purpose.  Popular in any search engine are phrases like, “finding my life’s calling” or “how to find my purpose in life?”  Christians and non-Christians alike are quite prone to seek the assignment or purpose in life.  When you feel inclined to seek out your specific contribution to the world, or your purpose in life, you are sensing your call into service.  If you follow the progression, the stripping, rebuilding, refining, and proving endured in your process of transformation and sanctification will position you well to successfully fulfill your assignment…your call to service.

Now What?

So there you have it.  A calling is simply an invitation.  Who is called?  Well, it’s God’s desire that everyone would be called (2 Peter 3:9).  Every believer is certainly called.  There are actually three callings, not just the one we so often hear about and focus on (the calling to service).  And being called is not limited to ministry, and community service. We each fulfill our purpose as we walk in our calling.  

Next time you worry that you aren’t called, just scrap that doubt immediately and settle it in your spirit once and for all. 

Yes, friend, you are called. 

Focus your attention and effort on clarifying the call and carrying it out!

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