What is God calling me to?
All people have a general call on their lives to respond to God with faith, and He calls Christian people to live differently for Him in godliness. However, it is also true that for each person God has a specific calling, a place that He wants us to be, a role in His plan of salvation that He wants us to take on, and a time that He wants us to act in. We will answer this question in two parts:
1. What does God call us to?
2. Does God call us to a specific role?
1. What does God call us to?
It is first of all important to recognise that we see in the Bible that God calls all people:
- To salvation (Acts 2:38-40)
- To eternal life (1 Peter 5:10)
- To obedience (Romans1:5)
- To belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6)
And that He calls all Christians specifically:
- To holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Peter 1:15)
- To change to be like Jesus (Romans 8:28-30)
- To live lives that are worthy of Christ (Ephesians 4:1)
- To a great hope (Ephesians 4:4)
- To worship Him (Psalm 95:6, 1 Peter 2:9)
- To live at peace with others (Colossians 3:15)
- To suffer (Philippians 1:29)
- To bless those who do evil to you (1 Peter 3:9)
- To mission (Matthew 28:18-20)
The overwhelming emphasis on God’s ‘calling’ in the Scriptures is to these general callings he gives to all people and to those who have already come to Christ. From these examples (and there are probably more), we can see that we have a lot to get on with in the Christian life! The apostle Peter tells us that God has already given us (if we are in Christ), all that we need in order to live a godly life. There is no need to wait for God to call you in order to begin living the life that God intends for you, indeed, he already has called in His word to many things that will please Him if you put them into practice. These callings are to be put into practice in any home, workplace, church or country.
“ 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3-10
2. Does God call us to a specific role?
There are some examples in the Scriptures where God does call individuals to specific roles in His Kingdom purposes. Sometimes God does directly intervene and speak to an individual, giving them a particular task for them to do. Hebrews 11:8 speaks about God’s calling of Abraham for example: “8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” It is interesting here, that Abraham knew for sure that God was calling him to go, and he acted on God’s calling, but he did so in faith because he trusted God, not because he knew all the details of God’s plan for his life. He started off without knowing the destination, and the destination was revealed to him as he moved. This is often the way God works, we have a general sense of God calling us, but it is only as we move that His plan starts to unfold. It does seem that we are not to sit back and wait for God to lay out a road map for our lives, but are to move in faith and trust that God will reveal his purpose at the right time. Sometimes He will block the route, and other times he will open the door. This is shown in the mission calling of Paul and Barnabas in Acts:
Paul and Barnabas were called and set apart for mission by the Holy Spirit, with the agreement of their church leadership, in the course of their normal worship practice: “1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3 It is important that we see that decisions like this are made in the context of the local church. What do your church leadership say about what God wants you to do with your life? If you have a sense of God’s leading, it is important that you go to them and ask them what they think. It also important that you submit to their authority over you.
In the Acts story, Paul and Barnabas then go on their way at the Holy Spirit’s prompting, but simply to the nearest place, and a place that Barnabas knew well (he was from Cyprus). 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” Acts 13:1-4. We are rarely told the specific decision making process of how they decided where and when to go to a different area, they seem to make practical decisions based on where the need is, and where they sense the Spirit is leading them to (and often they have to move on because they are in risk of their lives!). The obvious exception to this is found in Acts 16:6-10, where Paul and Silas’ attempts to go to various places are thwarted by the Holy Spirit, and God eventually sends them a vision calling them to Macedonia. This is a remarkable episode, and God can and does still communicate to people in this way, but it is not the norm for Paul, nor is it the norm in the Bible. Therefore, we should not expect it to be the norm for us, but we should be aware that God does not only have one way of getting us in the place He wants us to be. It does seem that God gets our attention when we need Him to, and He does so in way that we can understand easily.
When thinking about God’s call on your life then, first recognise that He has already called you to many things, and you need to make sure that you are heeding those calls and putting His word into practice in your daily situations. It may also be that He is calling you to something specific that you are not already involved with. In that case, the place to start is by asking Him in prayer and consulting His word. Fasting is a good idea too, in order that you can focus your mind, and it demonstrates your seriousness in wanting to hear God’s voice. Then we suggest you speak to your local church leadership about what you think the Lord is saying and submit to their wisdom on the matter.