How do I find my calling?

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I’ve written about how to find direction in college in a previous post.  So, if that’s what you’re wondering, read that.  To answer the question, “How do I find my calling?” I must rant.

I hear people say ALL THE TIME…

God called me to Nashville.

I just kept praying, asking God what He wanted me to do with my life.  And then God revealed my calling… to be a teacher!

I just knew that God was calling me to go to James Madison University. (shout out to the alma mater!)

I think God is calling us to break up.

We LOVE to say God called us to do something.

Now, I am all for saying– this is where my passions are, this is what gets me up in the morning, this excites me, I want to, God has provided opportunities to, my experiences and passions point me in this direction…. etc.

What I am not okay with is the mysticism the church has created in finding your calling from God God does not have some secret plan from your life that He will only reveal to you in a supernatural way, if you hold your breath and cross your fingers just right.  Nor does God have some specific calling from your life that will suddenly dawn on you and will be a complete shock having nothing to do with your previous interest, experience, or wiring.  And, God forbid, you miss your calling, THEN what on earth are you supposed to make of your life?

That all sounds horrible to me.

I really struggled with this in college.  I could not figure out what I was supposed to do with my life.  I researched many avenues and felt so worried that I would chose the wrong thing.  I knew I could be good in several areas–but what if I chose a path that wasn’t God’s calling?  What if I didn’t choose His best?

I remember, clear as day, sitting in the front pew at a  Moody Bible Institute chapel service, where Professor Howard Hendricks was the guest speaker. I had flown to Chicago to visit my family and went to work with my dad (who worked at Moody) for the day.  Prof leaned across the pulpit and said, “Most–if not all–of you in this room, are desperately trying to figure out what your calling is.  Stop stressing.  It’s much more simple than you think.”  He went on to say that the way we decide what to do with our lives, is to consider the intersection of where our strengths lie and what experiences God had already placed in our lives. 

The bottom line is: It’s not a secret code; it’s not a supernatural epiphany; it’s a decision.  It’s a decision that you and I get to make based on our interests and experiences.  That’s it.

God did not call you to Nashville.  You wanted to move to Nashville.  There are probably 12 reasons why it was a great decision to move to Nashville, but don’t try to blame your decision on God by using the “He called me” card.

God definitely did not call you to break up with your boyfriend.  You decided to break up with your boyfriend.  Maybe you even broke up with him for really good reasons, but again, let’s not blame your decision making abilities on God.  

Are you with me?

There is an amazing book written by Kevin DeYoung called Just Do Something: A liberating approach to finding God’s Will (OR how to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.)  Kevin breaks down what the Bible says about “The Will of God” — His will of decree, His will of desire, and His will of direction — and what that means for you and me when making life decisions.  It is a great read that I highly recommend.  In fact, I give it to my high school graduates every year as they embark for college.

So, if you aren’t buying what I’m saying, or just still wanting to chew on this concept, read Kevin DeYoung’s book.

AND I’m going to make this super easy for you.  Comment on this post & next Tuesday morning, I will draw two names and the lucky winners will receive a free copy of Just Do Something

14 thoughts on “How do I find my calling?”

  1. Hanna, , ,

    I was already intensely intrigued by your post (which someone posted to me on FB), since for the last 18 years I have focused my consulting practice on helping people discover their giftedness and then use that insight to discern their life and career directions (i.e., calling).

    So what an awesome surprise to start reading your blog and discover that my Dad, Howard Hendricks, had been the inflection point for you to go into the same line of work! Amazing!!

    You may have heard that Dad went home to the Lord last month—exactly one month ago today, to be exact. I can assure you that he is smiling down from heaven upon seeing you doing what you are doing. It is SO, SO valuable! Invaluable, really. Your post today is real a gift from God to me as one more reminder that Dad was totally in his sweet spot when he was teaching and pouring himself into students and young people.

    I can’t affirm you enough for your work. We are really kindred spirits. Teens and twenties today are, for the most part, lost as lambs when it comes to what they should be doing with their lives. Thanks to your efforts, many of them will, in fact, discover that God has put them here for a purpose, and they will find and follow that purpose and make a real contribution to the world.

    I will be following you!

    1. Bill,

      High praise coming from you. Thank you for those kind words. Your dad has had a PROFOUND impact on my life, indirectly through my own father. Without a doubt, I am the person I am today because of my mom and dad’s influence (of course, through God’s Sovereignty). And your dad’s mentorship of my father absolutely shaped and molded him into who he is today (and who has been my entire life). My legacy stems from my father’s legacy, who stems from your father’s legacy. So, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Continuing to pray for your family and all those grieving the loss of your dad. Hope to meet you some day.

  2. And of course, I can’t let my younger brother have the last word here, Hanna! I work with Bill in this shared mission we have to help people find the tools that God has packed into them in the way He designed them, in order to navigate toward the callings He purposes for them to do. But it all comes down to choice. The words that Moses left his people said it most compellingly , “Choose life, that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him.”

    I think the idea that some have recently championed, about leaning into your life, has profound application to everything that matters to you. But once you have leaned in, then what? You must decide whether to commit, to go another way, to give it your best or not. Someone once told me, the word “decide” has as its root, -cide, which means, “to kill”. We literally have to kill off, not choose the other choices that beckon us. And that freedom we have to choose means that there is no script, as many of us would rather have. But God has made us for this very life in which He has placed us, and He has trusted us with these gifts He provided for this very journey. What joy there is in finding that intersection you spoke of, where your gifts and this world’s great needs meet together!

    Thank you for referencing how my Dad’s words spoke to you. He left Bill and me a great legacy, leaving prints of significance here for others in the day he was given. May we all live out our own story as well, choosing something of life right there in the place only we can be.

    Thank you for your words and may God continue to use you for His glory,

    Bev

    1. Bev,

      What wonderful words. I love the quote from Moses, the meaning of the root of decide, and the charge to live our story well right in the place only we can be! Amazing. I responded to Bill’s comment too, so I won’t repeat my sentiments, other than to say, I’m thankful for the story your dad lived and the legacy he left behind. Love hearing about what y’all are doing at The Giftedness Center. Thank YOU.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really enjoy reading your blog! A group of friends and I attended a large missions conference in St. Louis, called Urbana over Christmas break and “God’s calling” is something a lot of us have been talking a lot about ever since, specifically in relation to mission work and life after college. I especially like what your professor said, “the way we decide what to do with our lives, is to consider the intersection of where our strengths lie and what experiences God had already placed in our lives.” I think I needed to read that.

    1. Hi! I’m Taylor and I was one of these friends who went to St. Louis to Urbana missions conference. I’m glad I don’t have to stress out so much about what my life is going to become, because God already knows! All I have to do is combine what I know of God and what He’s already placed in my life. Your post definitely drove this point home for me, so I really appreciate it. Thanks!

  4. Hanna, this is literally perfect timing! Thank you! I love what you said…about everything! I’ll explain more soon, but I feel the same way about “God calling” people (me) to do something…I’ve used it and didn’t really feel it, but just couldn’t find other words to describe it. As simple as your change of word choice is, it makes sense. So thank you!

  5. Klara Klančnik

    Hanna-bell,
    Such a huge inspiration to all of us, who sometimes feel overwhelmed when it comes to God and the Bible. Thank you, for breaking it down for us! I love you more than you can imagine!

  6. “Let’s not blame your decision making abilities on God.” Wow powerful statement and so true! I’ve heard people pull the ‘calling’ card many times as a way to cop out of things. I think this is a topic that 20-somethings should know more about! This blog was an encouragement for me to read, and it was perfect timing. Thank you for sharing!

  7. So much truth and wisdom here, Hanna! God calls us to be faithful, He isn’t trying to trip us up. I love the liver shiver comment, sure am glad we don’t have to decode our lives by that, I would be pretty stuck!

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