Professor Kelli Worrall explains how to discern God’s call on your life.
Jodie came to my office one afternoon last week, contemplating “the call of God.” She is preparing to graduate, and she doesn’t yet know what the future holds. Should she stay in Chicago and continue in her current administrative job? It pays decent money, and the ministry she works with on the weekends would also love to keep her around. Or, should she take a riskier route and pursue an unpaid internship with a ministry on the West Coast?
Working with this organization sounds like her “dream job,” but sorting out the logistics—the housing, the transportation, the funding, etc.—feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Or, should she return home to Tennessee to live with her parents for a while? She would treasure the time with them, and she could save money more quickly for graduate school. But other than family, there’s nothing much for her there, and moving home feels like taking several steps backwards.
At one point, Jodie looked over at me with wild eyes, grabbed hold of her hair with both hands, and pretended to rip it out at the roots. “Why can’t God just make it clear?” she cried. WHAT DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO?
As a Bible college professor, I have conversations like this on a regular basis. Several times every semester, students show up at my door, asking for help to discern: What does God want me to do? What is He calling me to? How can I know for sure? Or even—certainly He can’t want that!
Okay—let’s be honest—it isn’t only my students who are asking these questions. Even though I am well into my forties, I sometimes still wonder and pray in this way. God, should I continue down this path or should I take a turn? Should I say “yes” and walk through this seemingly wide open door, trusting that You will give the strength? Or, for the sake of my family, my health, and my own relationship with You, do I need to say “no”? Or, Lord, this is so hard; does that mean it’s not Your will?
In November 2015 Dee Ann Turner wrote an instantly popular Relevant magazine article called “4 Keys to Discovering Your Calling.” And because “calling” is often on my mind, I read with great interest her four points:
- Your calling is the thing that gets you up in the morning
- It’s what others tell you that you do best.
- It’s the way you use your energy to make an impact.
- And it’s the moment and the activity in which you feel God’s pleasure.
These are helpful points to consider. And I do agree with them—to a certain extent. Certainly it is wonderful when God calls us to something that lights a fire in our soul. Certainly people may occasionally acknowledge our strengths, and I enjoy pointing out the abilities I see in other people. God gave us those skills, no doubt, and He doesn’t intend for them to go to waste. Certainly, too, God sometimes allows us the satisfaction of experiencing our own effectiveness, of seeing a project succeed or a problem solved, and it is certainly rewarding when this is the case. And certainly there are seasons when we sense His great pleasure throughout the process.
Certainly these things are true. BUT…..(tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story)