Do you know what your calling is?
We don’t. And we’re willing to bet you’re not quite sure about yours, either.
You want to serve God—desperately. You want to make a difference, help others, further the Kingdom of God in some way. Sometimes, most of all, you just want to know what that one thing is that God has for you to do. If you knew, beyond a doubt, it would be easy to do, even if it was something crazy like dropping everything and going to live in another country, or giving away everything you have. If you just knew for sure, you would do it in a heartbeat.
Are we right?
When most people use the word “calling” these days they mean "vocational calling"—what it is that you do as your main occupation. I don’t think we’re alone as twenty-somethings trying to figure that—and life in general—out. It’s not for lack of advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what our life is supposed to look like. Sometimes it’s really helpful, and seeking wisdom is good. But sometimes it can feel like you’re the rope in some ridiculous tug-of-war between the things the people close to you hold as the most important.
“You’re so good at __________. You should do that."
“Your life doesn’t mean anything until you have children.”
“Providing for your family is the most important thing, not what you do."
To us, anyway, it gets confusing.
So how do you know what your calling is? Is it even possible to be called to something? What does that look like? Last week, we had the chance to talk about these questions with Chris and Carly Wright of Handlettering Co., who create beautifully hand drawn scripture for display in your home.
Chris and Carly are wonderful people. They welcomed us into their home (and gave us ice cream!) without even knowing who we were until a few months ago when we started planning this trip. They had a lot of wise and great things to say about many topics, including what it’s like to have a creative Christian business, balance in life and work, and relying on God through all sorts of trials, but we spent much of our time together talking about what it means to be called. As a bit of background, Chris started HandLettering Co as a personal project, both for an aide in scripture memorization and for gifts to family and friends. He didn't feel a specific call to begin the now successful online business, it just grew out of what he loved to do and share with others.
They explained the way they view calling over the course of a long conversation, and we’ve boiled it down to the basic idea that there are two types of calling:
- Our basic calling as Christians.
- Our vocational calling.
The first includes everything the Bible calls us to in terms of our relationship with others:
Are you a Christian? Share God's Word and help everyone you can. This calling is for all of us—it doesn't matter who you are or what you do to put bread on the table.
Are you a husband or wife? Love and serve your spouse.
Are you a parent? Love your children, provide for them, and teach them to love God.
Are you a son, a daughter, a friend? Love and care for the people around you.
"The bible,” Carly explained, “has called me first to be patient and loving and kind to my kids and my husband and anybody before He's called me to get things done and meet my goals. You know, seek first the kingdom of God."
The second is our vocational calling—what you do as your main occupation:
Are you an artist? Are you a teacher, lawyer, mechanic, chef? Use the abilities God has given you to glorify God, provide for your family, and serve the people around you.
Chris and Carly noted that it’s very important to keep these callings in proper perspective. Your vocational calling should always be subservient to your first calling. The people around you are more important than your job, and we all have to be careful not to make our vocation itself our chief focus in life.
"So for calling—is it an idol?” Chris asks. “Kind of a good reminder, I think, is [to ask myself] how strong of a hold does this have on me? If God took it all away right now, would I be discontent? And that really makes me think, am I really doing this because God is leading me to it? If it went away and you're not content with God alone, then you're probably not in the right place. He wants you to love Him…So with Handlettering, whether it grows a lot, or whether no one knows about it, [our] goal is to be content. It doesn't matter. If you can be content, the changes won't take away your joy."
You might be thinking, “That’s great for them, but I don’t even know what my vocational calling is supposed to be yet. What about me?”
If you’re like us, and you don’t know exactly what your vocational calling is, don’t sweat it. First and foremost is your calling to be a “little Christ” in the world, and fulfilling that call is no less important that answering a call to be a missionary in Africa. God may lead you to something more specific along the way, but it’s not often one thing for your whole life. It might change many, many times. And whatever that vocational calling is, it’s still second to the overarching Call for each and every one of us—to be like Christ, whoever we are, whatever we do. The rest, He will lead you to in His own time.
We know. That’s hard. And it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense when here you are, ready and rearing to go change the world, if He would just tell you how He wants you to do it. Being kind to people, being gentle and loving, caring for your family and friends and that one person who always gets on your nerves may not feel that big or important. But remember, we don’t know all of the Story. Any given moment may be an opportunity to be a Little Hero, and in this tale of trials and betrayal and magic and love for a Beloved, someone’s life can be changed by a cup of cold water given in His name.