Where has God called me to serve? This question haunts many Christians today, as we are the proverbial “yes men and women” of service. We are to be the hands and feet of the Lord in our communities, churches, vocations, families and the world, but this is not accomplished as an individual, but as a community of people all with different skills and callings (Acts 13: 1-3). So, how do we recognize God’s calling on our lives versus man’s calling? First, we keep in mind the WORD, particularly 2 Timothy 1:13-14…”By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Two years ago I was working for my photography company, working part time/ volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center and raising our sons. I truly enjoyed the work I did at the pregnancy center, but I wasn’t “all in.” I didn’t recognize it then, but I kept feeling stretched too thin instead of satisfied at working my hardest for the Lord. A little while after we started coming to Refuge City Church, Pastor John gave us an assignment. We were to pick out three areas where we saw opportunity for organic outreach and explain why. That assignment changed my outlook on God’s call for my life.
I was looking at my chart and thought, this is easy: my children, my neighbors and I wanted to be more intentional in the lives of our clients for our photography business. As I started to explain my ministry areas, it struck me that I hadn’t even considered the women's center as an outreach in my life. This Christian organization, that I was already working with, was not on my list, nor had it even entered my mind. Why? I was not listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I was listening to man’s call and not God’s. 2 Peter 1:5-11, “...Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for it you practice these qualities you will never fail.”
God had put people with needs directly in my path, just like the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10, where the priest and the teacher go by a man who had been beaten, but someone who should have been his enemy stopped to help him. I was walking right by the people in my life with needs in order to serve. I wasn’t doing the work He had put before me. I fell into the Christian American Dream that says, “if you serve at a Christian organization your are doing the work of the Lord.” That is a lie. Yes, working for those organizations can be the work of the Lord, if that is where He has called you. If not, then you are not doing the work God has put before you, in fact, I will go so far as to say you are hindering it. I know I was.
I was being handed people with needs in all three areas and ignoring them because of my “service” to the Lord. I was not investing into my children’s walk with the Lord, I was not listening to my neighbors and trying to help them with their needs. I was ignoring all the opportunities to show the love of my Savior to couples and families coming through our company's doors. I ignored years worth of the Lord’s promptings for my life. I knew what I had to do. I went and talked to my supervisor at the pregnancy center and told her that I needed to put in my notice and why. I stayed until a replacement was found and she asked why I was leaving. I told her, “I don’t feel the call for this position and I want someone doing this job who has the call, the time and the energy for it and that is just not me.”
I do still love the ministry of the pregnancy center, the people and the great work that they do, but I was not called to it. After I left, I felt a weight lifted and I started investing more time into my children, my neighbors, taking on bigger roles with our business and speaking out about my faith to our clients. I truly believe that answering God’s call has led to a lot of growth in my faith, marriage, family and many blessings in our business.
I learned the long way, that God has bigger plans than I could even imagine. When we put ourselves into a box of service and say, “I am doing my part,” we may be ignoring the true work He has for us. His plans are often large, overwhelming and may seem impossible, but if He has given you the call, He has promised to give the you the things you need to do it (Matthew 21:22). So, figure out what unique gifts God has given you. Think about where you live, or what organic outreaches you already have. Then pray that you won’t ignore His call on you life!