Much of my life I was looking for God’s direct, unmistakable call. I was waiting for the “burning bush” moment that would instantly provide a new direction for my life – like when God called Noah to build the ark. Or when God called Saul (Paul) to leadership through a blinding light on the road to Damascus. Or when God called Abram and Sarah to undertake amazing journeys. I was looking for an overwhelming, dramatic experience.
But calling in this sense rarely happens in the twenty-first century. Even in the Bible, it happened to no more than a hundred people.
Most of us will not experience the burning bush call.
Finding your calling is more like being on a lifelong scavenger hunt.
You find important clues and advice along the way as you reflect upon your life experiences and those who guide you along the way. The key is becoming more attentive to the signs that provide hints, signposts, and a sense of direction.
Discovering your calling is a messy process. However, in my conversations with my friends and peers, the prevailing belief is that God seems to be playing a game of hide-and-seek when it comes to calling. Many twenty-somethings often believe in the “bull’s-eye” approach to calling. That is, we believe there is one perfect calling, the one thing that I’m supposed to do, one grade school, one perfect spouse, and God is playing a game of hide-and-seek. Instead, our job is to start discovering our sweet spot and act upon this discovery which gives us the opportunity to live with greater intentionality.
The following four areas will help you find your vocational sweet spot. Your sweet spot is the intersection of four interlocking circles. Imagine a Venn diagram. As you learn more about yourself in these four circles, strive to be working closer toward your sweet spot if you want to live a life of significance and fulfillment.
Rick Warren said, “Like a stained glass, our different personalities reflect God’s light in many colors and patterns.” When God created us in His unique image, He wired us to be specifically who we are today. Your wiring is your personality, your natural temperament. There is a divine intention behind why you are talkative or quiet, detailed-oriented or big picture-oriented, and structured or spontaneous. This is all part of how you were designed.
There are a plethora of personality assessments that can hep you learn your personality and wiring. Two of my favorites include, the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) and DiSC. These assessments helped me to accept who I am. No more comparisons. No more wannabes. This tool helped me realize there is no “perfect” personality. Our individual personality is unique to us, just like our fingerprint.
Gallup Organization, widely known for their research in strengths development, made the following conclusion after interviewing employees for thirty years including 2 million people:
“The evidence is quite overwhelming. You will be most successful in whatever you do by building your life around your greatest natural abilities rather than your weaknesses.”
For most of my life, I struggled to believe and find something I was good at. I realized overtime time every one has talents. But only few can turn a talent into a strength. For example, being drawn toward strangers and enjoying the challenge of making a connection with them are talents, whereas the ability to consistently build a network of supporters who know you and are prepared to help you is a strength. To build this strength, you have refined your talents with skills and knowledge.
Although talents, skills, and knowledge are each important for building a strength, talent is always the most important. The reason is that your talents are innate and cannot be acquired, unlike skills and knowledge. For example, as a salesperson you can learn your products’ features (knowledge), you can be trained to ask the right open-ended questions (a skill), and you can practice making a sale (investment). However, the innate tendency to push a customer to commit at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right way must be naturally occurring and cannot be learned.
3. Passions (+Needs of the World)
Frederick Buechner said it best: “The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Uncovering your God-given desires is key to discovering your calling. For many of us, discovering your passion can seem like an overwhelming task, but there are questions you can answer that will help with your quest. Grab a cup of java, open up your journal, and begin to unmask your passion by completing the following questions.
- If money were not an issue, what would you do with your time?
- What makes your heart sing? What breaks your heart?
- What gives you energy? What drains the life out of you?
- What do you want to change, upgrade, or leave better than you found it?
- What target market of the population are you attracted to help?
Some twenty-something Christians mistakenly believe that if God calls them to a certain job, it will be something they detest. Otherwise, why would God have to call them to it? The psalmist said, “Delight your in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Discovering your desires and passions stems from this fundamental question: What work would I do even if I wasn’t paid for it?
4. Life Experiences
Discovering our calling is a function of knowing our story in life. Certain experiences happen for a reason. Our life story defines us. There are not coincidences – only God-incidences. Many times, I asked myself, “Why did I grow up as a third-culture kid crisscrossing Korea, Canada and the United States? Why did I struggle most of my childhood adjusting to new culture, moving constantly, learning a new language? Why was I born and raised under godly parents who didn’t give up on me even though I was floundering with my academics? Why did I get to live in a global cosmopolitan city like Vancouver during high school and college?
As Jesus followers, we must know that God is in control. Under His divine providence and sovereignty, we experience things in life that are often signposts to discovering our calling. The more we analyze our past the more we realize God uses our past to inform our future. Some of your past maybe painful and traumatic – but realize your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. Be sensitive to the open doors and closed doors in your life. They may help you lead towards your calling.