There is a lot of talk these days about fulfillment and purpose. We have been asked since childhood, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and high school guidance counselors help us set life goals and pick the best college for our dreams. Many of us change[d] our majors in college at least once, and upon graduating have no job or or even dream job in mind. We have been told that we can be whatever we want to be, we have idolized world changers, and we have been given inflated grades and false awards – thus believing ourselves to be extremely important and valuable. Therefore, when all we can find is entry-level work and are expected to do unpleasant duties at an even more unpleasant payout, we are frustrated.
Multilevel marketing plans and self-entrepreneurialism have exploded in the last few years for just this reason. We want to make our own hours, be our own bosses, and determine our own success! We think this freedom and quick success will make us happy.
We also spiritualize the dilemma. What does God have for my life? If I could just find my calling, then I would be happy and fulfilled.
But the reality is, this is a symptom of a bigger problem: we are looking for something other than God to satisfy and fulfill us. Jesus promises us:
– Matt 11.28
He also teaches us,
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
– John 14.6
– John 10.10
Jesus Himself is the way. He does not promise to show us the way to God, or to joy, or to life, He Himself is the way. He came so that we may have life and so that we may have abundant, full life. And everyone who comes to Him will find rest. If we approach Jesus as a means to an end, we have completely missed the boat. He is the end. Loving Him. Glorifying Him. Exalting Him. Serving Him. Resting in Him. Enjoying Him. By abiding in Him, our lives have purpose and joy and peace – even in the midst of sorrow, tragedy and difficulty.
Jesus plus anything is nothing. Jesus does not offer us salvation and freedom from sin in order to help us have a good life or point us on to some extra calling or greater destiny. Jesus is our calling and destiny. If we want to use Him to get a better life, we have not only missed the point, but we have robbed the Gospel of its beauty and joy. Jesus + anything = not the Gospel. This is why Paul adamantly teaches,
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
– Gal 1.8-9
So what, then, is a life calling? How then do we know what God would have us to do for a job, in our day-t0-days? What does this mean practically?
First and foremost, this gives us a great freedom that is terrifying to some. We are taught that not only is it possible, but we should strive to glorify God in everything that we do: eating, drinking, working, playing, everything:
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
– 1 Cor 10.31
– Col 3.23
We will find our satisfaction and contentment in our relationship with God, not in what exactly we are doing. We can do mundane jobs to the glory of God. If we find our pleasure in Him, then the job will become nothing more than an act of service to Him and we will not be left feeling empty. The exhortation Paul gives is in the context of telling slaves to honor their masters and to do their duty as slaves as unto God. He is speaking to people in much worse situations that most of us find ourselves.
Secondly, there are also special giftings that God gives for the sake of the church:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
– 1 Cor 12.4-7
God enables people in each church body to meet the present needs and to serve one another all to His glory. We are not given gifts for our own personal benefit, and we are not called to a role in ministry for success, fame or the job. God is seeking the best of the Church and thus chooses to utilize us. We cannot be selfish or selective with how we utilize the abilities and gifts he has given us. There will be times that someone is given the gift of teaching and wisdom, yet the Church body is unable to support him financially – thus he will need to work a job outside of the Church while he utilizes his gift of teaching. Most giftings are expected to be utilized in the Church without any financial return or even recognition. This is good and right, as our goal should be to glorify God by utilizing the skills He has given us by serving one another.
Thirdly, we have all been given the same, great calling:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
– Matt 28.18-20
Jesus has given us all the same, great commandment. No one is exempt from this commandment. It was His final words, His closing command, what has now become known as the “Great Commission”. We are all commissioned to make disciples. We will all do that in different ways. Some of us will leave home and country, to teach people of a different tribe, tongue and nation to know, love and obey Jesus. Some of us will work jobs in the normal workforce, teaching our coworkers and business partners to know, love and obey Jesus. Some of us will be stay at home moms teaching our kids to know, love and obey Jesus.
We will only find satisfaction and joy in Jesus Himself. He has given us a single commandment: to make disciples by teaching others to know, love and obey Him. Within those two confines, everything else is personally adaptable, such that the command can clearly be stated: whatever you do, do your work heartily unto God – and whether you eat or drink do all to the glory of God. He may give us special giftings and a unique vision to spearhead a new and unique movement or ministry. He may also place us at a secretarial desk or in the medical field, business world or in service. Any job can and should be done to His gory and honor – and when it is done so, we will be fulfilled. Not because of the job itself, but because of the relationship and pleasure found in God.
Lastly, you might find that you have been given a passion for God and disciple making and gifted with a unique skill set that would lend you to the pastorate, missions, or what church people call “vocational ministry”. It is not wrong to pursue these kinds of jobs or positions, but if God sees fit to keep you in a non-church type job for a while, or asks us to utilize those gifts in the Church without compensation and thus needing to work another job, let us do so joyfully and as unto the Lord.
What is your calling? You are called to know and love Jesus Christ, and to do everything unto His glory and honor. Let us seek to find our joy and satisfaction in Him alone, and not in our personal vocation or phase of life. We have all been sent out to make disciples wherever we are, and in whatever job or life circumstance we find ourselves. If we are left feeling empty and unfulfilled in our day to day, before we start questioning our vocation, let us start examining our relationship with God.