How to Discover What You Were Made to Do, Part 1
From the series Answering the Call
Do what you love - love what you do. Ever heard that? If you think those are empty words, think again. The God of the universe has created you for a specific purpose and a big part of that purpose is work. The question is do you know what you were made to do? Today, we’ll talk about how you can discover exactly what God made you to do.
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About this series
Answering the Call
How to Discover and Fulfill God's Purpose for Your Life
God created you to work. And He created your work to be more than just "what you do for a living," but a place to fulfill God's calling in your life. According to Scripture, work is the platform where you can experience joy, ministry, and personal fulfillment like never before. If you long to experience that kind of job satisfaction, this series will help you get there. Whether it's finding a new job, starting a new career, or just gaining a new perspective on your current employment, "Answering the Call" will encourage and inspire you to see work as a gift from God.More from this series
Let me read three quotes that I pulled out of the research that I thought were very encouraging, and they set the stage for you discovering the calling God has on your life. And we’re talking to your particular calling. 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 – different places at different times, but He has you in a role. Some are married. Some are single. Some are working. Some are retired. Some are on the East Coast, left coast. Some are from out of the country. He’s called you 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 number one comes from Joe Calhoon and Bruce Jeffrey, in their book called Prioritize, and this is a challenging quote. They say, “It takes great courage for men and women to discover their calling.” You might circle the word courage. “After all, it may not be what you’re doing now. And to face your calling squarely may cause some significant disruption in your life.” Anybody have that experience so far? You know, you’re thinking, down deep, I think I would really – my dreams – I would really like to do this. But if I did, that would mess with expectations. That would mess with finances. That would mess with security. What would so-and-so think? My kids, we would…right? It takes great courage, great courage, to face your calling. Because there is the chance that you may not be doing it right now.
The second quote is on the real positive side, by Os Guinness, his book, The Call, that’s, probably, the definitive work on this. If someone said, “Calling from God, one book” – this is probably the one you’d want to get. “Somehow,” Os writes, “We human beings are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts that are truly us.” It’s amazing how we look for happiness, in all kinds of places, isn’t it? But we’re never happier, we’re never happier, than when we’re expressing who we really are, who God made us to be.
And then, the third quote is by a business consultant, and coach, and he just makes this observation, after working with executives, and marketplace leaders, and Christian leaders. 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.”
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.
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, those outer space pictures, 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 kind 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. And that’s true if you’re twenty-two or ninety-two.
The sixty-four-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 Prioritize! by Calhoon and Jeffrey.”
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 placed 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, 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.
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.
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.
“If I gave you a 3x5 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 journey is, the average person can’t do that.
Now, if I said, “Here’s a 3x5 card. You have sixty 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 goes, 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.”
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.”
And so, you see, when you explore the concept, it’s yours alone, rooted in gifts, desires. It allows you to see your strengths. It actually keeps you humble. And it can happen in a moment, or it can unfold over time.
For me, it was years unfolding. I never – vocational ministry was never in the cards for me, that I could ever see. Little by little, that unfolded. And then, I thought I was going to be a missionary. No, no, it’s going to be a pastor. And then, it was going to be the pastor of a large church. That was part of the – and then, as it grew, then this was the role inside that large church. And then, we ran out of room, and services, and there was this – we didn’t try to do it; it was an accident. It got on a media thing.
And so, the calling then kept getting narrower, narrower, narrower, narrower – “It’s going to be about this issue of teaching. That’s your calling. And it’s going to be in a local church, and it’s going to be to help regular people live out their lives, where Christians really act like Christians, and the Church really becomes the Church.”
And then, in 1996, it got real confusing, and I asked God, “Please help me see how it all fits together.” And I had an a-ha, very clarion – “Chip, I want you to be a catalyst to transform how America thinks about God, how pastors think about preaching, how churches think about their communities, and how everyday believers live out their faith, at home and at work.”
I’m in a field, Camp Koinonia, staff retreat, and I heard those words, sitting quietly, and then the next one: “Did I go too fast? Write that down.” And we were on three radio stations, and, I think, one book was in the works, and I had laughed out loud. “God, You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m one ordinary guy, in one church on the West Coast.” And God said, “Remember, it’s a catalyst. You don’t need to be big. You don’t need to be famous. You don’t need to be a big shot. A catalyst is a tiny chemical, when put in a big vat, can cause a chain reaction. I want people to return, and have a high view of God, and a high view of Scripture. I want pastors to quit just giving the feelie-dealie, ‘here’s how to do life over here,’ or teach through books of the Bible, seven years in the book of Ephesians, saying, ‘The meaning of the Greek word for the is the.’
“And Chip, what I want you to do is, I want you, practically and relevantly, to give people tools, but I want you to teach through books of the Bible, in a practical, relevant way that causes people to take steps, and then give them a tool, and show them how. And then, help other pastors do that.
“And then, transform how churches think about their communities. I want you to model here, and every place you go, where churches get off of building their own little kingdoms, and around all the centrality of the Word of God that we all do agree on – the world’s going to hell in a handbasket. And whether you dip, dunk, or spray, I have convictions on all of that. But it’s not worth arguing about right now. And whether you use an electric guitar, or an organ, it’s not worth arguing about right now. We’ve got people going to hell, and we’ve got Christians that don’t act like Christians.
“Evangelism and discipleship, around the core fundamentals of evangelical Christianity is where, that’s what we need to focus on. And churches need to come together in their communities, and help one another, and share resources, and share staff, and talk well of one another, and serve the community. So, that’s what I want you to do.”