We know you are called to a Person – Jesus. We know you are called to a purpose – right? – to become conformed to His image. We know you’re called to a people, the Church, and to fit as an interdependent part of His body, and you’re called to the process of sanctification to be holy, and you’re called to a place. But what we want to know, in that place, is, what, specifically, does He want me to do? What is my individual role? What’s my job description, based on my unique designs? What, exactly, is that? That’s what this is about.
So, quote is by a business consultant, and coach, and he says, “The vast majority of individuals spend most of their lives focused on activities where they are either incompetent, or merely competent. Only rarely do their excellent abilities come into play, and almost never do they experience uniqueness.”
Now, this is a guy who’s a coach, who tries to get executives aligned in the right place, in the right time, and help companies leverage doing what they do, and he just, after all this time, says, it’s very rare. And I think it’s because we get motivated, and told – Remember that false view of work? And if the false view of work is, it’s evil, and we want to get out of it as much as possible, just get it over with, or it’s everything, somewhere in there, instead of looking at how God made us, work becomes identity, and so we become what we do, instead of doing what we are.
I think there are probably a lot of people in here who have found your calling, and you got moving on your calling. And then, it might have been a very good thing, it might have been financial security, it might have been wise, good, loving people who promoted you out of what you were really good at, and passionate about, it might have been expectations you heard as a child, or the needs of an organization, that, “This is really important, and no one else could do it but you, and you need to step in,” and so, out of moral responsibility, you said, “I’ll do …”
But you don’t like what you do. And you’re tired, and you get bored, and you get burned out, and you don’t dream about it, and you don’t lose track of time. And you’re a good soldier; you’re a really good soldier. And you’ve got high morals. But you’re not doing what God called you to do.
And so, with that, what I’d like to do is just begin to walk through the process of, how do you discover, or rediscover, what your calling is? And here are two diagnostic questions to ponder.
Question number one – and these are the kinds you can, on your way home, talk about in the car, if you’re with someone, or you could journal this, if you’re by yourself – what would you really like to do, if you could do anything in the world – and then, add to your notes – and know you couldn’t fail?
What would you like to do – I mean, anything in the world – if you knew, for sure, you couldn’t fail? And forget money. Forget staff. Forget limitations. What would you just love to do, if you knew, for sure, you couldn’t fail?
My suggestion is, the average person can’t come up with that. The average person, me being in the very center of the average person, gets so consumed with what I’m responsible for, and what I ought to do, and what I should do, and what’s important, that it’s been years since some people have dreamed, and said, What would I love to do? What’s down deep in my heart? What are my passions? What are my dreams?
The second diagnostic question is, what are a few things that you’re good at, and really enjoy doing? I mean, doesn’t it make sense that if you’re designed to do something, there’s a good chance that you’re actually good at it, and when you do it, you enjoy it?
Some of us have got this view of God that His arms are crossed, and He taps His toe, and His will is always, if it’s hard, unpleasant, difficult, something you wouldn’t want to do it – Oh, that must be the will of God. No, that must be a warped view of God.
Do I need to be willing to do whatever God wants me to do? Absolutely. But when you’re in the center of God’s will, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you, who made you, and you’re like an intricate piece of a part that He wants you in the right spot, where, when you do it – Remember that [hums Chariots of Fire tune] …? Slow motion, right? Chariots of Fire … “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”
What do you do that, when you do it, you feel His pleasure? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
I, actually, went through this, before I got up here to speak. This is my process. I get all the content done, and I prepare it, and then I go through it, for me. And I thought, What do I really love to do?
I love to teach and preach to change people’s perception of Christianity. I love to coach. I’ve been a coach forever. Instead of teams, it’s churches, but … I love to extract potential. I love to see people – they were here, and now, oh, man … When I see people grow, I go crazy. I like to create tools, and I like to build alliances. I love it when someone I sat around a table here, and some people were talking about a small group thing that we put together, and how they’re using it in their homes, and another group talked about how they’re doing it in their church, and I just – Just fill me up, baby!
Just to think that you get to coach, and create tools, and people are meeting the real God, and their lives are changing, and their marriages are changing, and their workplace is changing – that’s what I’m passionate about.
And then – this is a slippery topic, so I’m going to try to give you a window of, this is how I’ve processed it, so it might help you process it. So, I thought, So, what am I good at, and what do I really enjoy doing? I like coaching, I like inspiring and motivating large groups. I like translating complex truths into practical, simple ways for everyday people, and I like building partnerships for exponential impact. That’s who God made me to be. That’s what I like to do.
What do you like to do? What are you good at? And what I’m going to suggest is, you ought to get one of those little ring binders that you can get at Target, or Walmart, for, like, $4.99, and you start writing. And you just – What am I good at? And no one has to see it, and you don’t have to be falsely humble.
Two facts to remember: You are fearfully, and wonderfully, and uniquely made by God. Look in your notes. Listen to what God says. This is about you. “You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb,” David prays. “I will praise You, for I’m fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works.”
When God looks at you – Sometimes we see the Alps, or sometimes we see the Grand Canyon, or sometimes we see the delicacy of a butterfly, and we think, Oh, God’s works are marvelous! Or we see a picture of those galaxies – you know, those outer space pictures, taken by the Hubble, or something. When God looks at you, you’re more marvelous than all of that! You’re the pinnacle of His creation. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
David says his soul knows it very well. “My frame wasn’t hidden from You when I was made in secret” – notice this – “and skillfully wrought.” You’ve seen a skilled artist. You’ve heard a skilled musician. What’s it like, when God says He was the skillful One that made you, in the lowest part of the earth?
Speaking of God, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance” – or “my embryo.” “In Your book were written for me the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” And that phrase, “the days fashioned for me” – the focus of that isn’t so much extent – how many days – it’s the kinds of days. “The days that were fashioned,” of what would you do in those days?
In fact, Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” – there are some good works, and what’s it say? – “which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them.” There’s a unique contribution that grows out of your unique design that God has prepared beforehand, because He’s fearfully, and wonderfully, and uniquely made you, for you to walk in them. And when you do, you feel His pleasure. You’re good at it. It impacts others, positively. Everyone looks up and says, “Wow, that’s God’s glory,” and you have this incredible experience of joy. That’s God’s plan.
So, fact number one is, you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. Fact number two is, your unique design – your abilities, gifts, and desires – were fashioned by God to equip you to fulfill your unique purpose, and calling, in life. That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? And that’s true. That’s true if you’re 22, or 92.
The 64-dollar question that comes to my mind, then, is, how do you discover what that unique design is, and how do you begin to put it into play, in everyday life? And to do that, I want to explore the concept of personal calling, and you’ll notice there’s a little asterisk, and the asterisk at the top, under “Personal Calling” – if you go to the bottom of the notes, it says “adapted from priorities by Calhoun and Jeffries.”
I thought of a lot of different ways to explain this. I found one paragraph in this book, and I thought, You know, rather than me trying to give you my interpretation, I thought, this is the clearest picture of it that I’ve seen. So exploring the concept of calling, answering the
question … Here are five truths about calling. I love this.
Number one, it’s yours alone. Calling is unique. It doesn’t belong to anyone else, because it calls on your uniqueness. “No one else can serve in your place, even if they wanted to.” I like that. “You are different from anyone else in the world, even if you share the same genetic code with your twin.” So, the first thing about calling: It’s yours alone.
Second, it calls on your unique gifts. Circle the word gifts. First, it’s yours alone, but, second, it’s going to call on your unique gifts. “You can serve in a way, and in a place, that no one else on earth can. Even if you’re in a position, or hold a title, that many others have” – it gives an example of customer service. You can name any job – “your unique abilities will allow you to perform that job, in a way that no one else can.”
Think of the dignity, and the value, and the worth God plays on you, regardless of the role, or title, or job. He says, “I’ve made you so uniquely that in this role, in this job, at this time, no one can do it quite like you do it.”
Isn’t that the picture of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and Romans 12, of being a part of this supernatural community, the Body? And just as there are many members of one body, and all the members don’t have the same function, so you are members of one another, and we need, and work, interdependently.
Third, your calling calls on your unique desires. It’s not just your gifts. It’s not just abilities. But it’s desires. We have different desires. Certain things that fire me up absolutely bore other people. And certain things that fire other people up absolutely bore me.
That’s why, in all the churches I’ve had the privilege of pastoring – You know, when you form all these small groups, I always give people an exit the first two or three weeks. We have this idea, I’m a Christian; you’re a Christian. We get in a small group, we’re supposed to have chemistry.
I’ve got news for you – you don’t always have chemistry. There are Christians I hit it off with easily, and well, and there are Christians that they love God; I love God – I just don’t want to hang out with them. But we’re afraid to say that out loud.
I mean, you get in a group – and I’ve been in groups like this. And they’re going, “Hey, what do you think of Windows XLP4133? I don’t know, that Pentium chip – what’s going on with this?” “You know, I don’t know. I was reading that book on quantum physics,” and I’m going,
“Pshhh …” I’m going, “Did you see Peyton Manning last week? Did he rip them apart, or what?” They’re going, “Boy, that guy is so superficial.”
I am, okay? But I don’t understand what you’re talking about! Do you understand what I’m saying? And you get in a group like that, and you’re made to feel like you’re unspiritual.
So, in all of our small groups, I’d say, “Get in a small group,” and then, after two or three weeks, if there’s not chemistry, there’s not a bad person. What you say is, “Hey, it was great to be with you. You guys are really cool. I’m going to look for a little bit better fit.” You say it a little nicer than that, but … But do you understand what I’m saying? See, you have desires, and they’re different.
Notice what it says here. And this is not, necessarily, a Christian book. It’s The Magic of Calling. I would probably replace that with The Mystery of Calling. But, “The [mystery] of calling is that you don’t tire of it. You get to do what gives you joy, over and over. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you haven’t found it.”
And then, I like this: “That’s okay. Keep searching.” When you’re in your calling, you can do it over and over and over and over, and you just get more and more and more charged up.
I was in South Africa, and we created a tool. I like to do that. And I was getting to coach – we had pastors and leaders from all over Africa, about 200 of them, from all these different countries. So, I like partnerships. We had three or four different organizations, and mission groups, and people from all over Africa. And I was teaching a thing called “How to Grow a High-Impact Church,” which was taking a big, complex thing, and simplifying it for regular people, with a variety of educations, many of whom didn’t have much, and helping them make an impact.
So, this one has every cylinder of my design. It’s like, okay, check, check, check, check, and I get to teach, coach, and then interact with them.
Now, I’ve got news for you. I love to do what I do, but I’m pretty passionate. I’ve got a personal friend in a very large church. He said, “The way I teach, the way God wired me, I could teach seven services.” In fact, I think he does six on a weekend. My limit’s three. I start getting clinically depressed after about week number four, if I preach more than that. Because adrenaline goes everywhere, and I go nuts, and then – prghhh! – I go like this …
So, I know I can do about three. Except these people have come from all over Africa, and we have this twelve-part series we’re supposed to do in two days. And when you go overseas, they have this, “You’re a long way away. You probably won’t be back soon. We want to squeeze everything out of you.” And so, this guy said, “We’re going to do this twelve-part series in two days. Do as much as you can.” I’m thinking, Twelve parts – these are – every one is a different message.
So, I’ve got this thick notebook; I’ve created all this. I can’t keep that many messages in my head! And so, I wake up – and the time change in South Africa … So, I’m up at 3:30 in the morning, and I’m going through and studying each message, because I give one, and we have – I mean, I’m going to – Bam! Bam! Bam!
And I got up the next day, and I had the most supernatural teaching experience of my life. I did back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, seven different messages. And I got stronger over each one.
And then, I had a little window of time, and I would talk with people. Here’s a guy who was a Muslim cleric, who came to Christ in an all-French-speaking Africa, and this is what – I was talking to him. And then, there was this other guy, and this other guy.
And it was like being in the sweet spot of your sweet spot of your sweet spot. And I got up the next day, and did five more.
And when I got done, it was like, “You want to play some full-court basketball?” I mean, like, “Does life get any better than this? You want to do this again tomorrow?”
When you are in your calling, you can do it, over and over again, and it just recharges you. And if you wonder, I’ve never done anything quite like that, then God probably brought you here to help you begin the journey to discover that.
So, a calling, it’s yours alone. It centers around your gifts, around your desires. And then, number four, your calling gives you strength, and keeps you humble. See, a lot of us have not wanted to go here because, Oh, it’s arrogant. What am I good at?
Listen to this: “By recognizing your calling, you gain the grace to acknowledge others in their calling, in their set of unique gifts and abilities.” I love this line: “You have no need to appear more important than you already are. On the other hand, you lose false modesty that says you’re not good at anything. You grow in quiet confidence that you do make a difference, and that you’re supposed to do so.”
That is the beauty of the Body of Christ. My dream for you is that you would actually get to where you know what your strengths are.
I did a series, and there were a bunch of people in the room, and I just asked them, “If I gave you a three-by-five card, and I asked you to write on the top of it “Strengths,” and then put a line down the middle, “Weaknesses,” could you, in three minutes, give me your top three strengths, and your top three weaknesses?” And my experience is, the average person can’t do that.
Now, if I said, “Here’s a three-by-five card. You have 60 seconds. Give me your top seven weaknesses,” the average Christian can do that – snap! – like that. Most of us are always trying to improve on our weaknesses, and focus on what we can’t do, and think to even think or talk about our strengths is arrogant.
I love this – Prof. Hendricks used to say, “God gave you strengths to have confidence in life. God gave you weaknesses so you’d be dependent, and realize you need other people, and Him.” But Peter Drucker was right: All great things occur when you build on islands of strengths.
Our whole educational system, probably, is fairly backwards. We’re trying to create all these super-balanced people. You never end up balanced. The people who’ve made the greatest impact are people who leverage their strengths, and find other people that are great at their weaknesses.
Now, some of your weaknesses, there’s a level of stuff … I’m not a detailed person, but I can’t say, “Well, I’m not a detailed person, so my checkbook never balances, and so the world’s supposed to understand.” No, I’ve got to figure out how to do that. So, I’m not saying you’re irresponsible, but I’m saying, where your energy and focus go …
You need to understand what your strengths are. You need to know, I’m good at these things. I’m not so good at these others. And I’m going to develop my strengths; I’m going to leverage them. I’m going to take these God-given strengths, and help them become the best they can become.
And then, finally, number five: “Discovering your calling can be the result of a moment, or the unfolding of years. Each person comes to it on his own path, some at six, others at sixty. For many people, their calling will shift.” Put a line under that. This is so true. “Their calling will shift, as they move into different seasons of life.”
I was talking with John Parrish, and he was talking about one of the speakers, who had been a pastor, been a leader of a parachurch ministry, and then an author. He had just turned 60, or 61, or 62. And he had been speaking in a couple of groups, and this aha moment came. He said, “I’m thinking, maybe the calling I’ve had isn’t necessarily going to stay the same my whole life.”
And he was teaching to a group of very, very young pastors, many of them in their twenties, and one in one part of the country, and one in another part of the world, and, spontaneously, people came up to him and said, “Thank you so much. You were speaking into my life, like the father I’ve never had.”
And he said, “It was like God just said, ‘This is your new season: It’s the next generation. Invest where you speak, invest your time, invest your energy into the 20-something, young pastors and leaders who, many of them, have not had a father. Be their father.’”
And so, God may have brought you here to help you realize, Well, I’ve always thought I’ve done this, and this is my calling. Sometimes, it might be a new season.
For me, it was to call me – He brought me here, to teach this, so I could hear myself speak. And, actually, all the messages you’ve had, I’ve been over them five, ten times before you get them. And then, I get to hear them. Then, I get feedback. He brought me here to bring me back to my calling, and to say, “This is what I made you to do. Chip, do that.”