During a message I gave last year on living on mission for God, some in attendance indicated that they were not familiar with the subject of calling. That doesn’t surprise me. We don’t often hear terms such as calling and vocation used today. If we were to admit it, many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view work as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling, or even a career. No, it’s just a job. They embrace Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” philosophy, celebrate reaching “Hump Day”, ask “Is it Friday yet?” and get the “Sunday Night Blues” as they think about going to work on Monday morning.
The dictionary has two definitions of calling that are relevant here:
- A strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.
- The vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.
In The Call, the most helpful book I’ve read on our calling as believers, author Os Guinness tells us that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. We should not let our jobs define us and give us our identities. However, we spend so much of our waking time doing our work, this can certainly happen. Think of when you meet someone. You ask them what they “do”. We can become what we do. Guinness tells us that calling reverses such thinking, and a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career. The main way to discover our calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. So, instead of thinking that you are what you do, calling says to do what you are.
Guinness introduces us to two types of callings. As Christians, our primary calling is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live and act entirely for God. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. However, these, and other things are always the secondary, never the primary, calling. I don’t get my identity through my secondary callings, but through my primary calling.
In his helpful book The Art of Work, Jeff Goins tells us that finding our calling is a path, rather than a plan, with a series of intentional decisions along the way. He states that our calling is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until we die. We must see the journey as a process, and that takes time. Goins writes about seeing our callings as a portfolio. He states that our calling is more than our career. Instead, he suggests that we consider the variety of things that we do (work, home, play/hobbies, etc.) as our calling portfolio. Bob Smart in his book Calling to Christ also refers to our portfolio of callings. Dr. Smart writes that calling formation is for a season, and usually takes from age 18 to 35, but is always renewing with changes in our particular, or secondary, callings.
The above mentioned books (plus one) on calling are ones that I have learned from and would recommend to you. Check out my reviews of the books below.
Rising to the Call: Discover the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. This small book is an abridged version of The Call.
These are a few books that will introduce you to the subject of calling. Are there other books that have been helpful to you in understanding our calling?