Two ladies sat across the table from me and cried. We had been talking about God's calling. At their request, I had asked them some questions that had helped me identify my own calling.
As patterns begin to emerge in their answers, both ladies wept. God had been molding them their whole lives, but they had never seen the themes of their storylines before. Joy welled up as they realized that their dreams were, in fact, God's dreams.
Are you also trying to identify your calling?
If you've been wrestling with finding your purpose in life, I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions that helped me. Write down the answers, and you'll see how the stories of your life may not be so random after all.
Here are the questions:
1. If you could spend the rest of your life doing or talking about one thing, what would it be?
Perhaps you're an artist, and you'd want to gift the world with beauty that inspires. Or maybe you're in love with learning, and you'd want children everywhere to experience the freedom and opportunity that are made possible by a good education.
Whatever you would do, write it down.
2. Your life experience has rendered you an expert at something. At what are you an expert?
Your expertise doesn't have to be in a traditional career. However, you are definitely an expert at something! For example:
- Maybe you're passionate about stewardship, and you've learned how to get out of debt and manage a budget.
- Perhaps you've learned by experience how to heal from trauma through the power of God's Word.
- Maybe you've invested tons of energy into excelling at cooking, fitness, parenting, spiritual growth, or prayer.
Your area of expertise might feel commonplace to you. However, believe it or not, many people are craving the wisdom you have gained. Even if you don't feel like your experience is very important, your knowledge can be a lifeline to someone else.
3 & 4. What do you love? What do you hate?
These questions go together because what you love and what you hate are often the left and right sides of the same thing. They are simply two different angles from which to view your calling, and they will generally be opposites of one another.
Years ago, when I was praying about my calling, my immediate, gut-level response to these questions was, "I love powerful, happy, victorious living. I hate pitiful, negative attitudes."
My answer helped me see that I am called to help people come out of pitiful, beaten-down Christianity and into the abundant, joy-filled life that Jesus died to give us.
5. What makes you feel alive?
When you're doing what you're called to do, you will feel fully alive. You'll be firing on all cylinders--filled with joy, peace, inspiration, and motivation! Therefore, even if you aren't sure what your calling is yet, you can get some very telling clues by looking at what makes your adrenaline flow!
So, what makes you feel alive? Is it:
- Going for a morning run?
- Cuddling your children?
- Standing behind a pulpit with an open Bible?
- Writing words of hope to encourage weary souls?
Whatever you do that makes you feel alive, write it down.
6. What’s in your hand?
In 2 Kings 4, a widow begged the prophet Elisha for help. Her late husband had left their family in debt, and his creditors were coming to enslave their sons as payment for their debts. Elisha's response was, "Tell me, what do you have in the house?" (2 Kings 4:2).
The woman responded that she had nothing in the house except a jar of oil. The prophet then instructed her to go borrow as many empty vessels as she could from her neighbors. After she had collected many jars, she was to shut the door and pour what little oil she had into all the jars.
When she obeyed, a miracle happened. God supernaturally multiplied the little bit of oil this widow had, turning it into so much oil that she sold it and repaid her creditors. She found significant breakthrough by starting with whatever was in her hand.
So I ask you today: What do you have in your house? What's in your hand?
I recently asked this question of a bi-vocational pastor friend who had left his secular job. As our families sat at the dinner table and chatted about his career plans, I was reminded of Elisha’s story above. I encouraged my friend to make a list of everything he had in his hand.
Grabbing a pencil, he wrote down things like:
- willingness to learn;
- passion for helping people;
- experience in his secular trade;
- relationships with supportive family, friends, and mentors;
- a love for entrepreneurship, and more.
His list included many items that didn’t appear to have eternal significance. However, when we disregarded the outliers and looked at the common themes, a light came on in his mind. My friend suddenly realized that he desired to combine his passion for pastoring with his enjoyment of entrepreneurship.
In that moment, a new business was born. My friend is now writing and teaching God’s Word using an internet platform, e-books, and social media. When he looked at the assets he had in his hand, he moved from feeling helpless to knowing he was already equipped to operate in his true calling.
Now it’s time to look for common themes.
If you look at your answers to the questions above, you'll see consistent threads that run from question to question. To visualize this, imagine a Venn diagram like the one below:
Your answers to each question above will have some outliers (totally random bits that are part of who you are, but not necessarily related to your purpose in life). For example, unless you're called to work with animals, loving your cat is probably not related to your calling.
However, disregard the outliers and look for repeated themes—even themes from opposite angles. Put those themes together, and you'll generally have a picture of your calling. (Hint: Your calling has probably been the passion of your heart for many years.)
If you've been trying to figure out what you're called to do, the answer may be easier than you think.
When you examine your life’s motivations from various angles, your calling and purpose will often become readily apparent.
Did these questions help you? If so, please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
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Jamie Rohrbaugh is an author, speaker, and Presence seeker whose heart is for the local church. Called to edify, encourage, and equip the Body of Christ, her passion is to see sons and daughters of all ages transformed by the love of Abba Father. Jamie blogs at FromHisPresence.com® about prayer, revival, and the manifest presence of God. She is the author of four books and of numerous articles around the web. Jamie is a grateful member of the Redbud Writers Guild. She and her husband live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and together they have one cat. Follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.