By Ben Mandrell
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve been called by God.
Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, has written an incredibly helpful book on this subject titled, Is God Calling Me? Answering the Question Every Believer Asks. In the book, he explains that a call is a profound impression from God, one that often comes with life-altering ramifications.
Iorg helps unpack this by demonstrating there are three main ways God makes His calling known and clear.
Some people have a sudden, dramatic experience or undergo some sort of crisis. You might think of Peter being called away from his fishing nets to follow Jesus or Paul’s blinding conversion that caused him to go from being a religious terrorist to a Christian missionary.
Other people, like famed apologist and author C.S. Lewis, come to recognize a calling through reasoned decision-making and contemplation. Others discover God’s calling through the prompting of people in community.
Regardless of how God reveals His will, here are three things guaranteed to accompany His calling on your life.
Guarantee #1: You’ll have no idea where God is going to take you.
Just a couple of years ago, I thought I’d be in Denver for the rest of my life planting churches. I never dreamed I’d be called to lead Lifeway, but here I am serving as president and CEO of one of the world’s largest Christian resources providers.
None of us knows what God has planned. We should expect the unexpected with God.
In the Old Testament, Saul is a great example of this. From an earthly perspective, his calling to become king comes out of the blue when he’s on a trip to find his father’s missing donkeys (1 Samuel 9–10).
It’s on this journey that Saul crosses paths with Samuel who anoints him the first king of Israel. While these circumstances may appear random, we know there are no random circumstances with God.
Does this mean we should just go with the flow of such God-ordained circumstances and not make plans? Of course not. Human planning is a good thing, but throughout Scripture, we are warned about placing too much confidence in our spreadsheets and calendars (Proverbs 16:9).
It’s right to set some goals and to create our lists of next actions—as long as our plans are flexible to God’s will so He can change them without notice. Are you prepared to answer any call from God or just the ones of your own choosing?
Guarantee #2: You’ll feel ill-equipped for your calling.
Have you ever been humbled by the size of a task?
Again and again in Scripture, when God calls people, those individuals often feel like fish out of water. There’s a gap between their skillset and the assignment. That gap is where faith is allowed to grow.
Through insurmountable situations, God wants to prove He’s able to fill in the gaps for us, if we will let Him.
I have a friend named Reggie who’s a physical trainer. Not long ago, I asked him, “What’s the most annoying type of person that comes to your class?”
Without hesitation he said, “It’s the guy who says, ‘I got this.’ His form hurts me to watch, his back is bent in all the wrong ways, but when I try to give him a tip, he’s ‘got this.’”
The Bible teaches that being underqualified is not a bad thing, but is instead, something we should embrace in humility (1 Corinthians 1:26-27). God likes to use people with gaps because those are the spaces where spiritual growth spikes.
When you receive a call from God, you can be guaranteed to feel ill-equipped—and that’s a good thing.
Guarantee #3: You’ll experience a filling of the Holy Spirit.
God promises to empower those He calls. When Jesus reappeared to His disciples after rising from the dead, He promised they’d be “empowered from on high” (Luke 24:49).
“God promises to empower those He calls.”
That promise was fulfilled on Pentecost which marked the birth of the New Testament Church. On that day, 120 people gathered in a room had a fresh encounter with the Spirit and became empowered for ministry. The gospel went forth from this group, tracing a path through men and women throughout the ages and making its way to you and me today.
The early disciples couldn’t have achieved this world-changing feat through their own wisdom, charisma, or abilities. God supplies the power to His people when He calls them.
He did that for Saul. He did that the early disciples. And He still does it today.
Fulfilling Your Calling in the Lord’s Strength
What Christian who cares about God’s kingdom doesn’t want to be entrusted with more—with a significant assignment? Likewise, what Christ follower doesn’t want to live up to their calling and avoid a fate like Saul whose kingship ended in ruin and disgrace?
But based on what we know of God—and His tendency to pick the shepherd boy to rule, or ordinary, unschooled people to carry forth the gospel—we should look outside ourselves for success in our callings.
As we strive to be faithful, we must ready ourselves for the unexpected and embrace the fact that we are often ill-equipped for the tasks God has for us.
It’s in such a humble and submissive posture that the Holy Spirit works powerfully in us to fulfill His calling on our lives.