‘What is God calling me to?’
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2:10)
As I sit here typing, our city is hosting its annual Half Marathon. As a spouse of a committed runner, I have stood along the gruelling 13-mile route many times. Amidst those kitted out with ray-bans and the latest gadget to track their mile averages, you’ll see the charity runners. They might be dressed in a hot-dog costume or a pink leotard, or simply look very red and close to walking. But, as the many sponsorship pages on social media newsfeeds testify, each runs with a story of what motivated them to take up the challenge.
These guys win my respect because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it. I am not a natural runner. I’ve never enjoyed it. Besides, the distance is just too long. And I know I don’t have the time to put in any training. So I will watch, and I will cheer. But don’t expect me to do it myself.
I wonder how many Christians share similar feelings of apprehension when it comes to mission. As a Church, we have been given a huge task. Jesus left us with a great commission – to carry on his work in bringing his kingdom. Paul’s writings make it clear that each and every believer has a part to play in this (1 Corinthians 12). But the ‘M’ word often inspires feelings of inadequacy or confusion. The task is too big. It’s too difficult. I’m not that kind of person – what can I do? Where do you even begin?
But perhaps it needn’t be this way.
I am constantly challenged by the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: the idea that God has invested his business – kingdom-building – with his followers, and expects to see it flourish. One of the most encouraging things in the story is that our individual part in the proceedings is tailored to us. The businessman gives each employee talents ‘according to his ability’ (v.15). The God that made us and knows us has a unique role for us, which utilises the best of what we are and have. After all, the final account is judged subjectively – on how well each has used what they, personally, have been given.
Imagine a church – big ‘C’ and small ‘c’ – where each member was fulfilling their unique role for the glory of God. It would be unstoppable. Part of the role of a leader is to equip the saints for works of service. So how well are you, as a leader, inspiring and empowering believers to recognise their particular calling?
Here are four simple questions to facilitate prayerful reflection on finding our ‘part’ in God’s mission. Of course, we are often called to different things at different times, and God often leads us into places we could never foresee. But for those who are new or apprehensive when it comes to mission, this tool may help them see the opportunities they already have by identifying what God has given them.
P = PLACE – Where has God put you?
All of us are first and foremost called to be like Christ – to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. We share a common call to be witnesses to Christ where we are. So where are you, right now, in this season of life? Everyone spends their days somewhere, whether that’s in the home and community, at the local school or in a place of work.
What would happen if every time you were there, you imagined Jesus there too? Jesus waving your son or daughter off to school. Jesus sitting across from you at the desk at work. Jesus walking to your local shops. What things would he notice? Which people would he make an effort to talk to? Would there be any unjust practices he would challenge and want to change?
A friend of mine told me about her experience of becoming a new parent. One morning she went to a toddler group where not a single person said hello to her. It was a lonely couple of hours. A little while later she started a playgroup at a local church. She and the team made welcome and hospitality core values. They greeted people at the door, learnt names and made cups of tea. It became known as the friendliest group in the area – a testimony to the love of Jesus in action.
A = ACHE – What / who has God put on your heart?
God often draws us towards particular people or situations and gives us a real burden for them. This ‘ache’ may be based in encounter or experience. Perhaps we feel a personal connection with a particular place or people, rooted in our background or identity. Maybe we’ve been through something which has profoundly impacted us – a loss or crisis which opens our eyes and heart to a particular need. Or perhaps we have met somebody, or heard a story which has moved us and compels us to action.
Most people have heard the term ‘foodbank’, and are aware of what local foodbanks do. But the first foodbank, set up by Christians Paddy and Carol Henderson, was very much in response to an encounter. Whilst fundraising for a project working with street children in Bulgaria, Paddy was confronted by a British mother asking what he was going to do about her own starving children. They researched hidden hunger in their home town of Salisbury and were shocked by what they found. The Hendersons founded their first foodbank in their garden shed and garage. The rest is history.
R = RESOURCES – What has God given you to share?
A lot can be achieved by ordinary people choosing to be extraordinarily generous with their resources. There is a wealth of parachurch organisations in the UK doing incredible work – for example, Youth for Christ, who exist to take the good news of the gospel to every young person in Britain, or Open Doors, who support and advocate persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. But none of these ministries can do much without faithful financial supporters. You may not be able to do the frontline work, but your material support will enable others with those gifts and opportunities to do so. Of course, money is not the only resource. You may find yourself rich in time, or material resources (a car, a spare room, etc). How might God be inviting you to use them?
T = TALENT – What are you gifted in?
It might sound obvious, but when we think about how we best serve God it is right to ask, what am I good at? What can I do? What do I have experience doing? Because these are gifts given by God, to be used for his glory. It makes sense to play to our strengths, whether that’s accountancy or knitting, to build up the church and proclaim Christ in the world.
I’ve seen countless examples of this principle in action. Pilots and engineers feeling a call to join organisations that fly aid to people in hard-to-reach areas. Successful business people lending their expertise to ministries through becoming a trustee. Web designers creating sites for their church or small local charities. People baking and giving cakes to staff in the local school as a blessing to them. All of them start with ordinary Christians recognising what they love to do and finding a place to do it.
So what has God given to you? The Church is certainly big and diverse enough to allow for each person to do what they love. The only thing needed is to give these talents and passions over to God, and see what he will do with them.
Latest posts by Rachel Noyce (see all)
- 4 things to help people find their part in building God’s Kingdom - December 12, 2017