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Multiply: A little understanding of calling

I’ve been working directly with church planters and church planting candidates now for a couple of years. My wife and I were church planters early in our ministry.

When talking to church planters, the word “calling” often comes into play during the conversation. Most of the time it is posed as a question: “How do I know God is calling me to church planting?” This is a good question. Another good question is: “How do I know God is calling me to anything?” Both of these questions are preceded by some idea of what “calling” actually is.

Multiply: A little understanding of calling - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

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I’ve found it helpful in conversations like this one to define terms. It helps us all know, when we refer to a term, we are actually talking about the same thing. “Calling” is like that.

The best definition that I’ve seen on calling comes from Oz Guinness in his book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life.” The definition I’m about to give is not found in this form in the book. He spreads it all over the book. I’ve taken the liberty of distilling it down to one long statement, which I’ll unpack in short order.

The calling of Jesus Christ to His followers is by Him, to Him, and for Him that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and energy in response to His summons, so that everyone, everywhere and in everything should think, speak and act entirely for Him.

There are many, many things that could be expanded in this definition of calling. For our purposes, I’ll outline three general observations.

First, there is a primary calling and a secondary calling. The primary calling is to Jesus Christ. Jesus does the calling, not us. This calling is not about us, but about Him. It is about His will and His work and His purpose. This is why some have said that when a person is called by Christ, they are called to die. They are called to die to self.

The secondary calling is how you fulfill the primary calling. Your primary calling is your vocation. The secondary calling is your occupation. By the way, your primary calling will never change, but your secondary calling likely will.

Second, it is important we keep these two callings separate and in order. Who you are and who you belong to is your primary calling. What you do with His calling is the secondary calling. Don’t confuse the two. You are not what you do. Keeping them in the right order is a challenge.

As important as our roles, jobs and ministries are, they are not all important. If you place your secondary calling as primary, you will lose both. If you keep the primary calling primary, you will gain both. As C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, “Mere Christianity,” “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” Keep in mind the difference and the order.

Third, the goal of calling is to bring all things under the lordship of Jesus Christ and for His glory. God’s design is to use all of us in accomplishing that end. When I write “all of us,” I’m not just talking about each person but also everything about each person as well. God will use your victories and defeats for his glory. God will use your stammering and stumbling, your gifts and abilities. He will use them for the glory of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. Calling is all about Jesus Christ, from beginning to end and from top to bottom.

Could God be calling you to do something different? Take a quick eight-question assessment by visiting www.oklahomachurchplanting.com and clicking on the question box “Is God calling you to do something different?”

Author: Jimmy Kinnaird

BGCO Church Planting Specialist

View more articles by Jimmy Kinnaird.

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