Someone said to me, “Brian, you are ambitious.” I don’t know if I would consider ambition as one of my qualities. But I do believe in answering our callings. We only have one shot at life so I think we should make it count. Callings are not quite the same as desires. The two could overlap; you may desire the calling you have but a calling does not require you to like it. The reason the two can differ is callings come from outside of you. I think a calling is like a highly respected general calling you to charge up the hill and take out that bunker. You may not like it. You may be afraid of it. But you will let out that battlecry and give it all you’ve got! A calling has a strong compelling that feels larger than you and your life, and it usually is. In those moments of facing a calling, you have a choice of answering it or ignoring it. Ignoring it will often feel like disobedience and like you’re missing something very vital to your purpose for being on this earth. A desire achieved feels satisfying. A calling achieved feels fulfilling. I think most people live by desires and not by callings. That’s usually because we think if we get what we want, we will have lived a complete life. I think we’re all called to be more than we tend to realize, because we either downplay our roles in this world or succumb to distractions. For some of us, we aren’t able to say yes to our callings because we haven’t said no to other things.
Callings also tend to come in packs. A fellow faculty at Biola said, we can have multiple callings – being a mother, husband, charitable person, minister, artist, writer, missionary, corporate executive, nonprofit board member, soup kitchen volunteer, inventor, son, daughter, employee, storyteller, good neighbor, Christian… and it’s about living out those callings the best we can. Figuring out what you really want in life requires artful insight. Callings can also be seasonal; they need not be forever. Callings can be communal, meaning not the only one bearing it. And callings can be transferrable, meaning you may be called to pass the torch to another who shares the same calling. Figuring out what your calling is in life requires very, very good listening. My callings come from God and I try to listen to him the best I can. I can’t say I always nail it but He’s patient and a very good communicator. So I might not call myself ambitious, but I strive to be a good listener.
What are your callings?