What do you want to be?
In 10th grade I took an athletic trainer class. It was awesome. Odds are I can still tape an ankle in a minute.
When the class started, our teacher went around the room; “What do you want to be?”
“Athletic trainer for the Yankees..."
“Doctor,” I said confidently.
I was called to become a doctor (or so I thought). I studied biology in college and took all the pre-med courses. I took the MCAT, twice. I worked for three years in a hospital to improve my chances of getting in.
So, when I didn’t get accepted to any med schools, it was life-rattling. I honestly hadn’t thought about doing anything else. I was called to become a doctor, right?
That was in 2014. Life has gone on. It’s been wonderful! And my understanding of calling has changed quite a bit.
It’s not about what you’re called to do, it’s who you’re called to be.
I love goals. But before you can focus on a goal, you need to know who you are called to be right now. If you don't clarify that, you risk pursuing and achieving a goal that draws you away from who you're meant to be.
At the end of this blog I'll share a very simple exercise to help you clarify who you're called to be right now.
Called by Name
The Bible offers many stories of calling. Some are super dramatic, others more approachable. My favorite is the calling of the disciples.
“As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him." Matthew 4: 18-22
Let’s stop there for a second. Simon, who is called Peter. Jesus calls Simon and changes his name. It’s not about the job, it’s about the person who is moving toward Christ, the person who is becoming who God created them to be. You see this in other examples of calling in the Bible. Saul becomes Paul. Abram becomes Abraham. The name stands apart from the job.
In your life you have multiple names. Some are given to you. Others you take on intentionally. I was named Nathan, a son to my parents, a brother to my siblings. I chose to become a husband. I was willingly drawn into the name of dad. Some of these names are beyond our control. I can’t give up the name of dad now, it’s just who I am. At the same time, it’s my choice and responsibility to act virtuously in these roles. I could be a greedy, slovenly, selfish dad, or I could be a patient, kind, and loving dad. The choice is obvious, and it’s made in my small daily habits.
To clarify who God is calling you to be right now do this very simple exercise.
A Very Simple Exercise
1. List out virtues or attributes you aspire to. For example, the Virtues are: charity, temperance, diligence, kindness, patience, humility, and chastity. What others attributes do you aspire to? List at least 5.
2. List the names that you’ve been given or have willingly taken up. Who are you to others in your life?
3. Take one attribute that speaks to you and put it in front of a name.
Loving father. Kind friend.
These are your callings. They are the ways that you're drawn to Christ. It’s not through the title of your job or the “what” that you do. It’s the "who" that matters. Some of these callings may be seasonal; others you will keep for your entire life. They will mature as you do.
Sit with these quietly for a few days. One or two of them will need more attention than the others. Act on those this quarter.
That’s who you’re called to be right now. Once you know that, then you can set a goal.
To illustrate, here's an example from my life.
This summer we moved across the world. My calling as a dad and husband were forefront. I needed to be a stable and motivating force to get us from there to here. If I had chosen a goal of doubling the business over the summer, I would have been neglecting my call as a dad. Bad idea.
This quarter, my calling as a business leader is up top. I won't neglect my other callings, but I'm focusing my efforts on the business. My goals this quarter are set accordingly.
Friends, you are called by Jesus. He loves you and He wants you to come to Him. He's using your names.
Go to Him as you sit in your meetings or talk to your coworker. Go to Him as you pick up your child or FaceTime your mother. He's calling you.
I wish you blessings. I wish you fortitude. I wish you the courage to become who God is calling you to be. Rest in His grace this weekend and serve with joy at work on Monday.
Talk to you next week!