October 9, 2018 • Life for Leaders
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Do you have a calling?
Your answer to this question may depend on the kind of job you have. If you’re an ordained pastor, like me, or a missionary, or someone engaged in work that you love or work that serves people, then you probably will answer positively: Yes, I have a calling. But if your job is something more ordinary, or if you don’t have a paying job, you may well be inclined to answer negatively: No, I don’t have a calling.
I grew up in a church that talked a lot about calling. It was very important to us. And it was something that only special people had. Pastors, missionaries, and maybe others in helping professions had callings. They were responding to God’s special direction for their lives. The rest of us? Well, we were ordinary students, parents, employees, and bosses. What we did mattered, sort of. But we did not have a calling, or so we thought.
Since we were people who believed the Bible to be true, I’m not sure what we did when we came upon Ephesians 4:1. This verse says quite plainly: “Life 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?”)
So, according to Scripture, the answer is “Yes! You do have a calling!” When you received God’s grace through faith, when you said “Yes” to Jesus, God called you. But let me hasten to add this doesn’t mean you have to drop everything, quit your job, and go to seminary or travel overseas as a missionary. For most of us, recognition of our calling doesn’t so much mean doing all sorts of different things as it means doing all sorts of things differently. In future Life for Leaders devotions, I’ll dig more deeply into the nature and implications of your calling. For now, let me invite you to consider the following questions.
Something to Think About:
Do you think of yourself as having a calling? If so, what does this mean to you? If not, why not?
When you hear Paul refer to “the calling you have received,” what comes to mind?
Do you see your life as the living out of a calling?
Something to Do:
Ask your friends, colleagues, family members, or others in your life whether they think they have a calling or not. Tell them you’re thinking about Ephesians 4:1 and what it means for your life, and invite them to join you in the process of discovery.
Gracious God, thank you for calling each one of us, no matter our role in your church. Thank you for deeming us worthy to receive this calling, in spite of our failings and fears.
Help us, Lord, to understand calling in light of Scripture. To the extent we have limited calling only to ordained clergy or other special people, teach us to think in new ways. Help us—each one of us—to see ourselves as people who have been called by you. May we come to clarity about what this means and how it can shape our lives for your purposes and glory. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.