By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
The idea and concept of living out your calling is a common phrase we hear throughout the church. The concept of a calling stems from the heart of living in such a way that one would actively work and live out what God made them to do, what they were intended for. It is something many of us want to know we are doing, but how do you know if you are living out the specific calling upon your life?
Joy in the Work
There is a severe difference between joy and happiness, though they are often considered synonyms. Joy is the quiet assurance of something or someone, whereas happiness is a feeling that can shift or change on a whim. Joy roots itself in assurance despite circumstances or feelings. On the other hand, happiness can move with the feeling or sentiment of the day or levels of stress. When you are living in your calling, there is joy found in work, even if happiness is not present at the moment. Any job, profession, or career will have times that are not preferable or desirable, but there can still be a feeling of joy present. This is because it is not rooted in emotion, but instead stability that even in the hard times, there is a fullness and root that things are as correct. It is better to root ourselves in the rock of joy rather than the sands of feeling.
It Is Challenging
Mundane and monotonous activities rarely ignite passion or vigor. A significant aspect of living out a calling is finding fulfillment and excitement even in challenges when they arise. This is not to say a calling must always be a challenge, nor is it to say that it never is. Instead, it is said that even when inevitable challenges arise, there is a sustained aspiration to face the challenge head-on. These challenges will prove fruitful in how they help you grow, learn a lesson, or improve in a new and different way. These challenges often fuel new ideas or methods of approaching issues as well. Callings with challenges keep things moving forward into the future rather than withering away.
The Work Is Never Done
Living out a calling validates that the work is never really done. The idea of a calling versus a temporary project is that the calling goes on and endures. A project for a season typically has a time period of beginning and end. A calling grows and changes with time and meets a place of evolution over time. Consider great musicians who begin with a genre or type of music and continue to enhance and grow their craft. Their calling moves within them to not cease creating but to grow with time. A calling invites growth, not completion.
You Are Inspired
Passion and inspiration are a huge necessity when it comes to a calling. This is not to say that you will always feel inspired or passionate, but you will have an underlying desire to continue even when things are difficult. There is also a sense of curiosity and intrigue in continuing on the path of discovery within a calling. What might happen if you keep working? What could be born of going down this path? Where are places of potential growth and learning? Van Gogh once said, "Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling." Inspiration will take you far within a calling.
A Sense of Assurance
When one lives out their calling, there is also a sense of knowing that is confirmed within. This is often an unspoken place that emerges by simply feeling a deep peace not contingent upon outward circumstances. This is why it is important to be in tune with your inner self when pursuing a profession or calling, and it is where the aspect of inviting God is vital before investing time, effort, money, and your life. This sense of assurance is something no man can buy, contrive, or invent; rather, it is something freely given from within.
Confirmation from God
A true calling comes from God, so it is important to connect with God when investigating where you are called to and for what reason. Consider those in the Bible who were called into specific missions, professions, or quests for a calling. These callings often came directly from God, be it through a verbal command, a revelation, a dream, or an invitation of the Lord. Jeremiah 33:3 reminds us that, ""This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' It is the delight of the Lord to reveal to you what He has for you to accomplish in this mission called life. Seek Him to truly see and know what it is that He has to bear fruit through your life.
The fruit that is produced from a calling will prove indicative of the plant, the plant being you. Matthew 7:17-20 explains, "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." The fruit born of your calling will be directly influenced by what you are sowing, planting, and watering. This is not to say that drought, storm, or issue may arise, but there will be evidence of what is born even in difficulties. The fruit born of your calling can be produced sevenfold from what is planted when you invite the Lord within it, but it falls upon us if we invite the Lord to abide or not in the calling. What will you choose?
A calling and how you live out the "why" behind your creation is such a large part of the short lives we live on this planet. Be it for creation, be it for cultivating His garden, or be it for something else, God has a very specific and beautiful plan that you are invited into. Tolkien spoke of how as human beings, we are invited to be sub-Creators as we are made in the image of the Creator God Himself. That said, the sub-creator status can be seen and fulfilled in how we live out our callings. You will know you are living out your calling by the fruit that is born, the sense of assurance within your own heart, and the confirmation that God Himself will offer you in the process. If you are unsure if you are living out your calling, dare to ask God and see what He might just reveal.
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring youth and spending time in nature. She is the author of Hang on in There, Girl! and Dear Future Husband: A Love Letter Journey While Waiting for God's Best. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan and TikTok Cally_Logan.