In church world, pastors often promote a sincere yet misguided idea that to be “called into the ministry” is the highest way to serve God. In fact, if you ever went to church camp as a teenager, you might have even heard a speaker give an altar call for people who felt “called.” So here’s my question: How come these speakers rarely or never gave an “invitation” for people who were called to serve God in business, media, education, politics, and any other number of roles?
Let’s be honest. Most pastors would say, “Well sure God calls people to be in business. But it’s so they can be a witness and fund the kingdom.” While there’s truth to that statement, I would suggest that it’s extremely shortsighted. Calling is about so much more than funding someone else’s “ministry.” And while sharing Christ with others is very important, calling doesn’t stop there. Needless to say, there’s a lot of confusion about calling.
Authors Darrow Miller and Stan Guthrie observe that millions of believers operate from a worldview in which Christians fall into an ancient Greek dichotomy dividing the universe into the spiritual realm and the physical realm. This “sacred/secular” divide presents a skewed interpretation of Scripture. Bob Reccord and Randy Singer, authors of Made to Count, assert that the sacred and secular are nothing more than man-made distinctions. Instead, man is called to redeem all of culture…what Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey call, “The Cultural Commission.” Colson and Pearcey refer to the cultural commision as “the call to create a culture under the lordship of Christ…Our job is not only to build up the church but also to build a society to the glory of God.”
Os Hillman, author of The 9 to 5 Window observes that of Jesus’ 132 public appearances, all but ten were in the marketplace while 45 of His 52 parables had a workplace context. In the book of Acts, there were 40 miracles or divine encounters–39 of which occurred in the workplace.
Here’s the point I want you to get: When leaders restrict “calling” to the church world, they diminish the biblical idea of calling and remove the power of the Gospel to redeem the marketplace and culture. Calling isn’t just for pastors–YOU are called. Perhaps Gene Edward Veith, Jr. says it best in God at Work: “‘The priesthood of all believers’ did not make everyone into church workers; rather, it turned every kind of work into a sacred calling.”
Consider the very term “vocation.” Vocation comes from the Latin word for “calling.” What we consider a job to pay the bills is actually much more than that. And in case you think that business, politics, media, banking, social services, education, engineering, art, or construction can’t be a “holy” calling, then who (or what) makes the call sacred? The call is sacred because of who it comes from not what it’s to. The source of the call, not the function of the call, is what makes the call sacred. A Holy God cannot produce unholy callings. And doesn’t God have the authority to call anyone He chooses to whatever vocation He chooses?
Scripture is clear: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). The “good works” you do may be different from the good works I do. But those works–although different–were prepared in advance for us to do. We are called and were created to do them. Other passages also reiterate calling (Romans 8:28, Romans 13:1-6, Colossians 3:23-24, John 14:14-18, Exodus 31:1-11, Exodus 35:30-35, 36:1).
So how do you view calling? And what has God called you to?