Whether directly connected with our passions or not, God calls us first and foremost to do the next thing well, to his glory, with all of our might, says John Stonestreet. Short of this awareness, we risk “Christianizing” a sense of entitlement.
Christians are guilty of inculcating false expectations to their young as well. For at least a couple of generations, Christian colleges and other educational institutions, with the noble intention of communicating the biblical concept of “calling” being more than full-time ministry jobs, have taught students to look at their own giftedness as the key (sometimes the only key) to discovering “God’s will.” I must confess my own guilt in this regard.
Of course, there’s certainly truth to the idea that the Lord has gifted us in unique ways to serve Him and that we can discover these gifts through our passions and use them for His glory. Remember Olympian Eric Liddell’s wonderful line from “Chariots of Fire”? “God has made me for a purpose, for China. But he’s also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
While the biblical picture of calling and vocation includes our giftedness, it also includes things like sacrifice, persecution and an awareness of the needs of my neighbors. Jesus said that those who follow him carry crosses. Paul said that anyone who wishes to follow Christ will be persecuted. (Remember, Liddell died in a Japanese prison camp.)
It’s really only Christians in the West, especially America, who have had the luxury of dwelling on the question, “What has God made me to be, and what is my calling?” Unfortunately, along the way, we’ve missed other lessons about calling that our brothers and sisters around the world are forced to learn.