How do I know what I am called to do?
Hi @Joshgould, that’s a great question.
Are you talking specifically for yourself or generally for humanity?
On a personal level, we all have God given talents that we are good at. We all have different personalities, which God has intentionally created - and using these God given talents we can fulfil the good works that God has created for us (Ephesians 2:10) . (also see the parables of the talents in the Gospels).
I enjoy listening to ‘Exploring my strange Bible’ podcast by Tim Makie, one of theBibleProject creators and he’s currently in the book of Matthew. In this episode below, he talks through the Parable of the land owner and his servants which I found quite thought provoking also.
I’m fairly conservative type person, and am not comfortable in front of a group on stage delivering a spoken address. I’m more of a behind the scenes type person, and work better in small groups or around a discussion type setup. I’m also conservative with money, to the point of overthinking sometimes and take very little risks. Good at budgeting and those types of things. As compared to a missionary I know, who ministers in Papua New Guinea - and is a real adventurous type personality. Missionaries, who are adventurous and live by faith, need steady funding from people who are a little ‘boring’ like me and I have also realised over time that your secular vocation is just as important as a so called ‘full time ministry’. The reason I share this is because I remember when I was just starting out as in my first job as a computer programmer at 19 years of age, an evangelist told me directly that my job was boring, and that I need to quit and surrender to the ministry full time, and just live by faith. I’ve pondered this (poorly worded) advice over the years and realised that we are not all called to be missionaries, some are called to be in support roles. The evangelist’s heart was in the right place, of course, and wanted to see more young people surrender for the ministry. It’s likely that what we are called to do is already part of our current skill set - and Jesus is only asking us to do something with what we already have. If we are faithful with what we have currently, and use it to further the kingdom of God, then it may be possible that God will give us greater responsibility later. I’ve started to find it useful to think of it as a ‘stewardship’ of our time, money, talents - which we can use to share more about Jesus’ love wherever we are. I’ll never be a Ravi Zacharius, but I can do something with what I have. I’m fairly technical and can do things like websites and other tech things that others can’t do. I have the gift of ‘helps’ or ‘administration’ depending on what Bible translation you use.
Some references to spiritual gifts in the new testament…
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, it’s a great passage describing the body of Christ, the church, as many members. All are important. And the humour the passage uses is quite amusing: the eye does not say to the hand, i have no need of you etc. In 1 Corinthians 13, the great love chapter - it shows how we need to use our gifts with love. No matter how good we are at our gifts, if we don’t do it with love it becomes a clanging symbol or a sounding gong as the Apostle Paul describes it.
Also, there are many different websites about personality types, but it’s really interesting to understand what our own personality is like, and also understand what other personalities are like we work with - and with this basic knowledge we can then work towards unity in churches.
https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types (keep in mind it’s interesting to learn about this, but not helpful to put people into boxes as we are all unique)
Some verses that spring to mind (be sure to read surrounding chapter to make sure I’m not just proof texting to prove my point ):
what ever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord ( Colossians 3:23-24)
Also a helpful video for me was to more fully understand that we are made in the image of God - with creativity, skills, and therefore we have value individually and our work has meaning.
There is also a book I remember reading in the past, but I can’t for the life of me remember it’s title except it was something along the lines of ‘Love God and do whatever you want’. I googled to try and find it but have only found it was a quote from Augustine. (if I find the book that was helpful to me i’ll come back and put it in here - i thought it was Frances Chan or Tim Keller but seemingly not)
(edit: found the book: Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin deYoung)
Even the basic secular advice is good: Be yourself, everybody else is taken.
I hope this is helpful starting point - and i’m looking forward to what others have to say as well.
How do I know I'm where God wants me to be?
@Joshgould I really like what @matthew.western said about ‘Just Do Something’ - I think sometimes when we are making big decisions we get caught up in the ‘paralysis of analysis’. If we belong to Christ He is our Shepherd and He will not allow us to go astray as long as we are leaning upon Him.
I think general life advice that has helped me is:
- know your strengths and weaknesses - what you are good at and what you are not good at - have an honest self-assessment
- ask for input from older, wiser mentors who have known you or even friends on what they feel your gifts are or where they see God working in your life
- think about what tugs on your heart strings - what issues really make you want to get out there and do something - helping orphans, teaching the Word, prayer - this may be something that really motivates you
- set specific goals - try to use your gifts in small ways and improve upon them - if your gift is teaching maybe teach under a more experienced person’s leadership for 1 year and then plan to teach on your own the next year (while still getting feedback) - that is a specific goal to help you grow and discern your calling
- serve, serve, serve - we discern our calling as we actively seek to serve in the Body. We may find out we are not so good at some things - that is okay. It is a process to discover where we are really gifted. So take the time to serve and discover your gifts and then set goals for using and bettering those gifts.
Advice when making big decisions:
- pray persistently and wait long enough for God to alter circumstances - give it some prayer and time if possible
- seek wise council from people who have clearly made wise decisions in this area in the past
- be aligned with Scripture
- when it comes time to make a decision, go for it - make the wisest decision you know how to
I really like this book on discerning God’s will - a pastor friend pointed it out to me and it was very refreshing. Best one I’ve personally read yet.