by Demi Prentiss
Most of us think of “a calling” as something for church people who are bound for ordination. Those of us just trying to make our way in the world are more likely focusing on making a living and insurance coverage and work-life balance. “Calling” is not a concern for us, is it?
Mark Roberts’ recent blog begs to differ, looking at the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians (Eph 4:1):
….This verse says quite plainly: “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The context makes it abundantly clear that this exhortation was not only for pastors, missionaries, and other special workers. It was for all of those who would read or hear the letter we call Ephesians. It was written for ordinary Christian folk, people who, according to the Apostle Paul, had received a calling. (Ephesians 4:1 isn’t the only verse in the Bible that makes it clear all of God’s people are called. For a discussion of other verses that make this point, see this article on the De Pree Center blog “Do I Have a Calling? Or Is This Just for Special People?”)
Talking about that same Ephesians passage, which goes on to compare the Christian community to the human body, Frederick Buechner wrote in Wishful Thinking:
God was making a body for Christ, Paul said. Christ didn’t have a regular body any more so God was making him one out of anybody he could find who looked as if he might just possibly do. He was using other people’s hands to be Christ’s hands and other people’s feet to be Christ’s feet, and when there was some place where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some maybe-not-all-that-innocent bystander and got him to go and be Christ in that place himself for lack of anybody better.
“Anybody he could find who looked as if he might just possibly do….” “…some not-all-that-innocent bystander….” That sounds like it might be me! What a thought, that God might tap me on the shoulder and get me “to go and be Christ in that place …for lack of anybody better.”
Calling – what some call “vocation” – is not restricted to church leaders. As Elizabeth Newman wrote for Baylor University’s Center for Christian Ethics, “Our vocation is a gift, not something we decide after assessing our skills and talents. To discover our vocation, then, we must learn to receive the abundant life God desires to give us.” And Howard E. Butt, Jr, founder of The High Calling, urges all Christians, no matter where they choose to devote their productive energy, to be “builders, following Jesus the builder – building our capacities and building other people up, building relationships and organizations, a company, a service, a breakthrough – building our ministry in daily life.”