Capable Versus Called

By: Maraya Pearson

The biggest distraction any believer can face is distraction from his or her life’s calling. And I believe one of those distractions is confusion between our capabilities and our calling.

Our capabilities involve worldly skills and abilities and these skills and abilities are largely known to us. On the other hand, our calling seems not as easily elucidated and discovering it can be, for some, a lifelong process.

I submit to you that in an effort to cope with what seems like the daunting mysteriousness of our “calling”, we seek clarity and direction from our worldly capabilities, which we think we largely understand, and in so innocently doing, stumble into distraction.

For example, we may be a talented business person or engineer or administrator. We start working in these roles, we become proficient in these roles, and we stay in these roles. God loves us no matter what we do, but there is a sense of loss that happens when potential and possibilities go untapped. David was surely a capable shepherd and defender of the flock but he was called to be a King and defend a nation. Joseph was a capable household administrator but he was called to administer a nation and deliver it from crisis. Ruth was a capable caretaker but she was called to be a noblewoman, a grandmother of a great King and, perhaps most importantly, bring about a legacy of positional legitimacy for Gentile inclusion in the Kingdom of God.

So here’s what we need: unity, not disparity, between our capabilities and our calling. We need to merge the two. So the question is: how?

The great news is that for those eagerly seeking alignment between their capabilities and calling, there is hope in finding it because the Word is full of clues that boil down the riddle into something straightforward and quite simple (in fact, its simplicity might be what causes us to be the ones to layer on the ambiguity towards our calling as a self-imposed measure to construct God’s purposes with a man-made largess we believe is fitting…).

But getting back to the matter at hand… there is an answer. But let’s take a rest stop here and pluck these three clues for our journey:

  • Super simple clue number one: The greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. (Matthew 22:37)
  • Super simple clue number two: We love because God first loved us. (John 4:19)
  • Super simple clue number three: God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)

With these truths in hand, pull out the magnifying glass and look a bit closer at our journey as believers longing to live abundantly in our area of calling.

Stage 1: Completely and Utterly Lost in the Wilderness (with Little or No Sense of God’s Love for Me)

Stage Number 1 is where a lot of us start. I like to think of this stage as being just plain ole completely and utterly lost in the wilderness and weeds of life. As KCTFO members, you’ve likely left this (or hacked your way through this) well-worn spot on the path of human experience a long time ago. I wonder if you remember what it was like to have a complete separation between your capabilities and your calling? I know I did as a once completely and obliviously lost soul!

It often starts that way – like me, with complete obliviousness – but even if you were someone that grew up in a sea of Christian worldview, this could have been that stage of life, perhaps not unlike our twenties when we’re full of vain ambition, striving towards our man-made goals until at some point we realize it’s futility. A fundamental characteristic of this stage is having little or no sense of God’s love for us and therefore no real “relationship”. At this stage we may have even wholeheartedly believed in our love for Him, and even performed works for Him, but the relationship hadn’t really started because a relationship isn’t one way. In any one-sided partnership, you just…feel that… after a while, no matter how you look at it or try to brush it aside or make excuses or justify behavior…

In any event, the hope and belief in “something more”, that brewing discontent with the status quo and the calling towards the “abundant life” soon draws us to reevaluate everything and this takes us to Stage 2.

One thing is clear here. Like the calm before the storm, something just doesn’t feel right and if we were to have reached out – stretched and stretched out as far as we could have… well, from one striving hand to another, that would have been the measure and reach of our life. Hmmm.

Stage 2: Believer / Seeker (with a Growing Sense of God’s Love for Me)

Sometimes without any foreknowledge of the time and day, we just stand up one day and take our leave of the worn out bench of the average life. I tend to believe this is quite a quiet and personal transition. We might have been jarred awake at an intense moment, but the moment we stand was (or will be) likely a private moment of peaceful clarity. You just floated up, ambled past the familiar crossroads and with an unusual lack of fear or hesitation, simply started onto the narrow path. (I remember when I first decided to make the alter call – I felt like a whisper of a breeze floating effortlessly down the aisle as if moved by some invisible force).

Where were you when that heart transformation happened? Wasn’t it such a wonderful feeling? Remember that now, that peaceful preview into the quality and richness of life described as “having life more abundantly” (John 10:10).

At the beginning it’s quite innocuous. You don’t really see a major change in scenery for a while sometimes. Sometimes it’s filled with a lot of joy, like skipping down the yellow brick road. But change is coming – you sense this deep down – and it’s change that’s exciting and new and perfect.

(I say perfect because in the believer’s life there is no such thing as failure. A closed door is protection from a wrong path and the promise of the next opportunity. A mistake is an opportunity to heal and learn and to claim God’s righteousness as your own as a child of God. A loss just means that restoration at 120% is on its way).

As a believer and seeker, we’re in this middle ground stage when we make that personal heart choice to follow God but this stage is also fraught with a bit of discord. There are warring interests and competing desires and competing messages. This is why this stage can be characterized by a feeling of division. It can feel like we’re pulled in two directions. There will be some spiritual warfare to defeat – perhaps the spirit of fear or condemnation or discouragement or disbelief or doubt or insecurity – or even all of these – but as we stay in the company of God and authentic believers, we’ll win.

Despite the bumps along the way, this part of the journey has some exciting vistas and the most exciting and pivotal one is that at some point we will be anointed for service here. It could come in the form of a prophetic word from another or even an actual anointing service. We are now a budding king or queen and we’re firmly part of the royal family (“grafted in”), whether we know it or not, and with our growing sense of God’s love for us, we’re just beginning to know our position as a member of the kingly family family, albeit at a more superficial “head” level.

While in this stage, our Kingdom might feel a bit small but it’s no matter because God calls what isn’t into existence. When Gideon was cowering in a threshing floor at night, trying to avoid enemies, and before he ever led any men the angel of the Lord (Jesus) proclaimed “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). And there were 15 years between the time that David was anointed King to the time he reigned.

But if you’re like me and are getting a bit bruised along this bumpy part of this journey and are ready to jump ship into the next leg of your journey, here is the key: If according to our clues, our ultimate calling is to love God and others (necessarily in our unique, special way), then to get there we must meditate on God’s love for us, more and more. Recall:

  • Super simple clue number one: The greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. (Matthew 22:37)
  • Super simple clue number two: We love because God first loved us. (John 4:19)

Now, this might seem like a narcissistic exercise – humph! – to focus on God’s love for us! And maybe it’s even a disappointing – or insulting – requirement, incongruent with our carefully practiced emotional intelligence and charitable service oriented works that clearly show we don’t need further validation of our inherent worth and goodness…?

Yes, it would be nice to know that we’re capable of God’s unconditional love, but truthfully – really and truly – it is God’s love for us (not the other way around) that draws us to Him and is the force that empowers us in every way and in every aspect of our calling to love God and others with our special and unique capabilities.

Something magical is about to happen when we grow into our knowledge of God’s love for us. This is the real tipping point…. We begin to get the inkling – the real…live…inkling…and for even the briefest spark of a moment we believe again, like a child that anything is possible. In our hearts, for a moment we hear this:

  • God is able…
  • To do exceedingly
  • And abundantly
  • Above
  • ALL…!
  • That we can ever ASK…!
  • Or THINK…!!!

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoooooaaa. Now wait just a minute. Do you feel that sense of expansion?

That’s just the beginning.

Stage 3: Kingdom Family Member (with an Enduring Sense of God’s Love for Me)

When this third truth gets nearer and nearer to the door of your heart, get ready for the ride of your life where your capabilities and your calling will be merged like never before. Without the distraction of a life limited by our own understanding and our own limited vision, we are set to soar because the good news is indeed incredible, stupendous, mind-boggling and deliriously great news!

In this stage of our life, there’s a sense of unity between our capabilities and our calling. It’s as if the two are getting closer and closer together, becoming one. In the graphic, the red and blue merge to purple, the color of royalty. We’re truly reigning in life when we merge our calling to love God and others with our unique capabilities.

As a result of meditating on God’s love for us and internalizing the sheer scope and scale of God’s abilities and joy in doing them with us (Jesus himself confirmed “I am willing.” Matthew 8:3), we harvest the fruit of entrepreneurial freedom and an enduring sense of our kingly position as a member of the royal family of God. And as a member of God’s family and abundant economy, there is no fear of failure because all family members are permanently grafted into the ruling family with a perfectly just and perfectly dependable and perfectly loving leader. So there are only successes and opportunities to look forward to. They may look different from the world’s point of view but that doesn’t matter because this we know:

That all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) (And we love Him because he first loved us).

We don’t and won’t have all the information this side of heaven and we won’t live long enough to see everything unfold. But if we did, we’d know that, in the end, good always wins and all losses become gains.

This enduring sense of God’s love for us empowers us to do great things, try new things, take calculated risks for a good cause and know without a shadow of the doubt that there is no such thing as failure in a believer’s economy. Since God does “exceedingly and abundantly all that we ask or THINK”, this is the logical conclusion:

Whatever His plans are for us they are way better, way cooler, way more fun and way more fulfilling than anything we could ever ask or think!

And while we won’t “arrive” at a complete merging during our time on Earth, to get to the abundant life where our calling and capabilities are merged, the starting point is to meditate on God’s love for us and this will lead us to our destiny in Christ.

As you do so, your reach, your impact, and your significance will expand past you and into generations to come. Are you on the road of life? Take your next step today.

* * *

To leave you with a practical application to assess the next steps in your life course, I want to leave you with two tests you can use to help you discern.

  • The Expansion Pre-Test: When you consider an opportunity, does it make you feel expanded or contracted? Even if it’s a bit scary or even daunting (if it’s new or uncharted), is there a sense of excitement that goes with it? If so, that’s expansion.
  • The Expansion Checkpoint Test: If you’re not certain before you embark just how you feel, here’s another test that works for me. (It’s helpful with weeding out a spiritual attack that might be muddling your experience). Start to do a bit of the work and when you do, do you feel expanded or contracted? When I started to write this article, it was a bit daunting. Making ideas take shape with words takes a considerable amount of creative energy and thought. But while I was writing I felt a sense of expansion and was glad I started and completed this work.

(Some people say be wary of listening to your emotions, but the Holy Spirit speaks to us on the inside, too. And a test to know the voice of the Holy Spirit is to know that it convicts us of our righteousness. It does not condemn believers. But this is a subject for another discussion another day).

Shalom!

Maraya Pearson


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