Faith Friday: How Do I Know What My Calling Is?

Note: By request of our blog readers, on Friday we answer reader-submitted questions from a faith perspective. If you’re not interested, no worries, just skip the post. To submit a question, you can post a comment or contact me.

Last week we answered the question, “Is my job the same as my calling?” In response to the blog post, a reader named Mark asked a follow-up question: “How the heck do I know what my calling is?” Mark wants to find his calling. Maybe you do too.

How do I know what my calling is?

In order to answer this question, I’d like to frame the topic. I’ve heard many people talk about calling as that ONE ELUSIVE THING that unless they find it, they’re cursed to wander the earth in misery until they die. They sweat and fret to find THE ONE THING.

I’ve certainly thought of “calling” that way before. But I think of calling differently now.

I see it more fluid than fixed and more general than specific. I think of calling more as a category than a singular action. At the heart, calling is really about living in the center of the Father’s will for your life.

For example, at one stage of her life, my friend Pat served Native Americans on poverty-stricken reservations. Then she helped volcano victims to recover. And later she started schools in the Philippines. Pat did all these things and through all of them, she was living out her calling.

The key to knowing your calling is sticking close to your Heavenly Father and responding in obedience when he calls. How do you know when God is calling? In the Bible, Samuel didn’t know the LORD was calling until the priest Eli pointed it out (1 Samuel 3). Samuel needed some help.

As I myself have wrestled with calling, I’ve found six areas that often point to calling.

God’s voice
Jeremiah and Samuel both heard God speak to them clearly about their calling. It may not be the same for you, and that’s okay. The living God has lots of ways to speak. In a way, each of the following areas is a means for God to get his message across. I encourage you to listen to all of them.

Talents and strengths
In Living Your Strengths, Al Winseman and Curt Liesveld wrote, “Your calling is what God wants you to do with your life; your talents and strengths determine how you will get it done.” As I shared in 7 Kinds of Strengths Within You, you’ve got all kinds of strengths. Each is a clue to the Designer’s Intent.

Passion and engagement
What fires you up? What do you feel connected to? What has your attention? What do you have to keep doing, so that if you stopped doing it, you would shrivel? What do you lose a sense of time doing? What would you spend your money on if it was endless? These are all signs of passion and engagement, which indicate calling.

“I was made for this”
In certain moments, you have a sense of, “I was made for this.” You know what I mean, those moments in which you feel fully alive, when your blood and bones seem to be crying out in agreement, and you feel you have tapped into something primal and essential to who you are.

Witness of others
Sometimes calling is right under your nose, you just don’t see it. Like Samuel, listen to the community around you. They have a unique perspective on your life that you don’t have. Calling out calling when we see it is a sacred role we can play for each other.

Remarkable results
If your calling is what God wants you to do with your life, your calling will bear remarkable results. What are you producing? What are the outcomes of your life? What will people miss if you stop delivering it? Consistent, good fruit often leads back to calling.

Like Samuel, keep listening for the Father’s voice. God wants to reveal your calling more than you want to find it. A heck of a lot more. So lean in and listen with your blood and bones to what the voice is saying.

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Chris believes you can love your work. He's the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., where he helps employees to succeed. He's also a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. He loves to coach people, write, and speak around the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, and growth. He blogs often at ChrisHeinz.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Faith Friday: How Do I Know What My Calling Is?

  1. Hi Chris, Really helpful blogs. I especially like God’s calling. All my life I have been awed by His kingdom within me. I have been so blessed in my life with family, friends and my church community. I especially love the song “Here I am Lord, I have heard you calling in the night, I will go Lord where you need me and hold your people in my heart.” He has made something beautiful in my life. Another song I often sing when I meditate written by Bill Gaither..”Something beautiful, something good, all my confusion He understood, all I had to offer Him was brokeness and strife and He made something beautiful of my life.” Mother Theresa has written a meaningful book “Something Beautiful”. Life is Good!

  2. Thanks for the follow-up post about this, Chris. This is also something I have wrestled with (and likely will continue to do throughout different stages of life). I really resonated with how your understanding of your calling has changed over time and how you think about it now. I also appreciated the tips/areas of exploration to discern your calling.

    One helpful book I’ve read related to this topic is Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will (www.amazon.com/Just-Do-Something-Liberating-Approach-ebook/dp/B00H3V4X0W). This was the first book I read by pastor/author Kevin DeYoung, and I’ve really come to appreciate his short and engaging writing style along with the insights he shares.

  3. I once read a timely quote that helped me with Mark’s question:
    “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner
    I was in a place where I was becoming afraid I was going to miss God’s calling on my life and would leave the world without fulfilling it. This quote really stuck with me and began to shift my thought process from searching for my calling as you describe as “being that one elusive thing” to making Jesus my One Thing. It’s in this intimate relationship where He’s erasing that fear through His Word speaking truth to me (Phil 1:6; Eph 2:10; Jer 29:11; Prov 3:5-6 -to name just a few). As a “late bloomer”, I heard God’s call over 5 years ago, but I’m still learning how to figure it and walk it out. I know the WHAT…the challenge now is getting to the heart of God’s call. HOW do I fit in? WHERE is the center of God’s will? I honestly believe the best is yet to come but at the same time, I’m not getting any younger!