The three-week visit with Ross’ family including his two younger sisters, Raleigh and Rochelle, caused me to reconsider an issue that surfaced for me on my first trip to Africa in 2006. That issue being the calling of God to missions for each and every person described in the questions: Is discipleship making for everyone? If am truly going to please God, do I have to be a missionary? What triggered the remembrance of this questioning was Raleigh and Rochelle’s sensitive response to a visit in the village of Lebolbe one day. They returned a bit shocked by the mud-huts and third-world impressions of the trip. Their sensitive consciences asked, “If I am going to be a true disciple, am I going to have to do this too? Is this what God is calling me to as well as Ross?”
To get to the bottom of this issue, let’s look first at Christ’s words in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This foundational calling seems like a universal call to the church. This calling is the church’s primary business to be about. However, the church is a body made up of individuals who are the assorted body parts, with Christ as the head. The church is also compared to a temple where God dwells which is built out of living stones, “You also, like living stones, are being built up to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). We “living stones” are stacked on one another and join together, aligning our selves with Christ, the corner stone. Each member of the body, each stone, has its individual use that is submitted to Christ, and in turn, to the whole Church which is moving toward Christ’s will.
I believe that a better question then is what sort of work is God calling you to do as a member of this body that is headed in the direction of world missions. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” I believe that a personal calling is revealed by God and can be corroberated through several of the following sources: the recommendation of other brothers and sisters in the body or family, time spent in listening to and in communion with God, and the obvious signs of natural giftedness (to name a few).
Discerning a calling can be difficult, tenuous work, often requiring years of faithful inquiry upon the Lord, but we can be sure that he who seeks will find, as our Christ promised. Finally, along the journey toward determining a calling, we should remember God’s words to Moses, “What is in your hand?” A staff happened to be in Moses’ hand when God asked him this question, the very staff that God used to help Moses lead the Israelites of out Egypt by changing it into a snake before pharaoh in one instance and cutting the waters of the Red Sea with it in another. Obedience in small opportunities in the present often leads to greater revelation by God of the next step in your calling in Christ.
Christ left us with the spiritual law that “if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” As the Father Zosima in The Brother’s Karamazov reminds us, it is easier to love humanity in general than to love your neighbor specifically; thus, we should be careful to obey in the practical and not just in the theoretical, big-scheme, as is a tendency when “dreaming up a calling.” Actually, I would recommend that you not “dream up a calling,” but alternatively, let God bring it to you as you walk in present obedience. Mother Theresa recommends, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” In doing so, more often than not, I believe that you may just stumble upon God’s calling for your life right under the servant’s towel. Ultimately, may we glory in the God of the Call more than the personal calling itself—most content to be His little maidservant, happy to serve wherever the King of Love may be. It is also good to remember that the greatest calling will be found less in a job title or a college major, but instead, after a humble echo of the mother of God, “Let it be done unto me.”