How do I know what I’m called to do in service to the Lord? There’s no instruction manual to life. I can’t read in the bible the verse that says: “Chris, you should start New City church.” How do we know what God is calling us to do?
A helpful way of thinking about calling that I heard years ago (I think from Tim Keller) and I’ve told this to many young people who are questioning their calling is this: A calling from God has three components which should be thought about within the context of the body of Christ: opportunity, ability and desire.
Why did we move to London instead of Mongolia? I had an opportunity to move to London, I don’t know anyone in Mongolia. If God is in control – which He is – then He will bring opportunities into your life. And often these opportunities will come in the context of your fellow Christians. Friends asked Jos and I to think about moving to London. No one asked me to think about Mongolia.
What opportunities is God bringing your way to serve Him?
God will call you into areas of responsibility in which he as gifted you. God is not calling me to play music in a worship band – I’m just not that good. Here again, the answer to this abilities question comes in the context of the body of Christ. If you think you have musical abilities but everyone covers their ears when you sing, then you need to reconsider. But if you teach a bible study and people come up after and say, “I appreciate what you said there” – that’s an indication I might need to move forward.
Where are you getting affirmation from others that you’ve done a good job in a small area of responsibility? Has God given you an ability in that area? Should you step up a level in the challenge before you? And are you looking to grow in your ability to serve God with the gifts He’s given you?
Finally, what is the desire of your heart? If you are a Christian, the bible teaches, that God has given you a new heart. The Holy Spirit lives within you – changing your desires to become more and more the desires of God so that over time, your desires and the desires of God become one and the same.
If we really believe this, then I should be able to ask you – “What do you enjoy doing?” And if your response is “I just like smoking dope and playing video games all day” then I would probably question whether the Holy Spirit is really at work in your life. We’d then need to back up the conversation to discuss the basics of the gospel.
But are there areas of service which you do enjoy? When does your heart resonate with joy even after a hard days work? Maybe it’s time to pursue them with more intentionality.
Enter into joy in your life by serving Jesus with the gifts he’s given you. Open your eyes within the context of your fellow believers to the calling He has for you to serve in His Kingdom.