Working with God (Pt. 2)
This blog part two of a two-part series. Read part one here.
What is your God-given calling? When we consider this question. a common confusion, and subsequent stagnation, comes from the fact that there is more than one green light put before us…
When Jesus sent out seventy-two followers for their first mission experiment, I am sure they would have been a little nervous. The job profile started with Jesus describing them as sheep among wolves; their performance indicator was to heal the sick. The whole mission was impossible in their own strength, as is everything God calls us to do.
But on their return, their excitement held no bounds. They exchanged war stories and enjoyed the comradery that only brothers-in-arms can know. Trepidation had been converted to celebration.
Jesus had given His followers a green light to go, and it hasn’t changed colour to this day. However, that leads us to the most common of believers’ questions: “Wheream I to go in Jesus’ name?”
Our common confusion, and our subsequent stagnation, comes from the fact that there is more than one green light put before us.We may have been taught that to go means we head to another culture and evangelise the local unreached people. That is an option, but it is not the only option.
What if we have a young family and sense God’s call to raise them in a close community of friends where they are? That would certainly make going to the mission field a hard option to consider. Our green light seems to be heading in a different direction.
The final chapters of this material will cover this concept further, but in short, God has given us several green lights in scripture that we have permission to pursue. They broaden the concept of mission as we begin to realise that our overarching purpose is to commune with God and extend His reign.Understanding these green lights will give you permission to be fruitful in every season of life while also being free to be you.
Assignments and Calling
As we progress through life, we inevitably grow as each season presents new challenges and opportunities. With each season comes specific assignments from God, each with varying duration.
While these assignments to work with Him are part of your calling, they are not in themselves your calling. Some of them may even seem to shoot off in a direction that counters who you believe God has called you to be. But don’t worry, they are specific tasks that both utilise your current capacity in Him, and also equip you in ways your own logic would not have considered.
One of my early assignments was to pioneer a business start-up. My heart was for serving God, but His leading and open door into this experience had been clear. In those few short years I learned a broad set of skills in dealing with people, understanding finance and law, self-management, and even sales. I was given a fast-track in how to form an organisation, which was to become indispensable in later seasons of ministry and life.
Some assignments exist to impact a certain place or group of people. Others, like the one just described, take you into a specific vocational season.
Assignments from God are usually more easily defined than calling is; they often give clarity on what is to be done in the medium term. They give us the joy of making plans and setting goals. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two in pairs, it was an assignment. It had a beginning and an end, and clear outcomes were achieved.
Assignments provide a sense of intentionality about what we do. Excitement and progress thrive on intentionality! It is the way God wired us.
Assignments are like roads drawn on the landscape of your calling in Christ. The calling itself is less precise. It can encompass your various assignments, and indeed they serve to progress that calling. But calling is a much grander concept. Your calling can seem to be a place that always appears over the next horizon. That’s because your calling is not what you do; it is who you are becoming.
In scriptural terms, your calling is your name. What you do is a product of who you are right now. What you will do is a product of who you are becoming.
Some have described calling as your true north. It is a direction to take rather than a task you can define.
God is leading you through the landscape of life in the general direction of your true north. However, if you try to over-define your calling in terms of the assignments He has given, you might struggle. God intends to do in you more than you can ask or imagine; therefore, unlike assignments, your calling is not a clear goal to be achieved.To do so would only limit what God does.
He simply wants you to become more of who you are – stripped of the baggage of the old nature and thriving ever more in the grace of God. You are only who you truly are when you are found closely engaged with God – living from the radical core of faith, hope, and love. That is your true north.
For the next three weeks, we will delve much closer into each of these core elements. Each has a wonderful rhythm of grace of its own. They synchronise beautifully, and combine to create the fruitful lifestyle of walking and working with God.
What assignment has God got you on right now? In what ways do you need His strength to be fruitful in that work?