“And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” [Luke 2:49]
“Know your calling and do it!” – Bob Shank
When Jesus was twelve years old he was preparing to assume His responsibility as a man, a rite of passage as a son of the covenant, and His role in the family business. As Joseph and Mary left Jerusalem to return home to the Galilee they were unaware that Jesus had remained in Jerusalem [Luke 2:41-49]. They found Jesus among the teachers at the temple listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard marveled at His understanding and answers. Mary admonished Jesus, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Jesus respectfully reminded His mother that Joseph was not His Father ,and His destiny required that He be about His Father’s business. In addition He proposes that Joseph and Mary should not be surprised or worried since it would only be natural for any boy to assume his role in the family business. In this season of His life, Jesus caree,r if you will, was as a carpenter or stonemason. But Jesus was also aware at a very early age of His kingdom calling.
Many people I know struggle to discern their calling in various seasons of life. Many get a sense of a calling in the marriage and family realm. And many get a sense of a calling in the career realm. But too many people have no idea of a sense of calling in the kingdom realm. The calling realm is a sphere of life where people seek to advance God’s kingdom apart from the marriage, family, and marketplace realms.
What is your Father’s business? Followers of Christ are called to advance the kingdom, proclaim the gospel, know Christ and make Him known. When you know your calling and do it you are effective in the Father’s business.
How do you know (discover) your kingdom calling? You’ll discover that your calling is likely the convergence of three factors: passion, performance and promotion of the kingdom.
- Passion: What are you passionate about? What are the issues or who are the people that make you wake up early in the morning or stay up late at night thinking? What brings laughter or tears? For example, one person may be moved by the plight of orphans, another widows, and yet another youth. Someone is passionate about prayer, and another laments the abuse of those oppressed by sex trafficking. Some are zealous to support a pregnancy center where the gospel is proclaimed and others want to see young moms mentored by mature godly women. There are tireless advocates who reach the next generation and make disciples. The key is to figure out what moves you. There are countless issues people and needs that God desires to minister to. Trust that God will direct you as you begin to contemplate what you are passionate about. Also consider where that ministry or calling is likely to take place. A great deal of ministry takes place in the local church. Some ministries, like children’s church, are ideally suited to take place in the local church. Other ministry such as a pregnancy center are best suited alongside, but outside of the local church, and some are a hybrid. Trying to discern what you are passionate about is often the first step to discern your calling.
- Performance: What activities produce your best results? Your calling will generally maximize your gifting. Each of us has areas where we tend to get great results without having to expend significantly greater energy. As a student there is the experience of getting “A” grades in classes in certain subjects without having to strain to study. On the other hand there are other subjects where you struggle and study seemingly forever only to get a “C.” The type of results and the amount of effort and energy required to produce the results help you to discover your calling. For example, I can play the drums, and like to play (passion). When our church was young I played drums on the worship team. Yet it would take me hours to learn new rhythms and then the performance would be C level. Fortunately, God graciously brought called drummers to the church, people who have the ability to learn complex rhythms quickly and play proficiently. In this example, I played drums for a while but that was not likely my true calling for that season since that was not the best use of my gifts. On the other hand, in areas like Bible teaching and leadership development I get much better results with less effort. The areas where you are most effective will help you discover your calling.
- Promotion of the kingdom: Your calling must advance God’s kingdom. This third sphere of advancing God’s kingdom may be readily apparent in certain areas typically associated with the activity of the church. For example if you are zealous to share your faith (passion), and see effective results because the gospel is proclaimed (performance) it is easy to connect evangelism and promotion of the kingdom. There are countless ministries and activities that are undertaken in the church and alongside the church in para-church organizations where people can discover and walk in their calling.
In addition, I’d like to encourage you that your calling may not fit in any of these traditional slots, but it can still be what God has called you to. For example, you love photography and are a very gifted photographer (passion and performance), but you don’t initially see a connection between photography and the kingdom. As you seek to discern God’s will you have the vision to start a photography class at the church for people to learn about photography, and with the plan that people in the class are going to be encouraged to chronicle life in their community. The best images will be displayed on a link to the church website. Finally, there will be a fundraiser event where people will purchase the images and the proceeds will be sent to support foreign missions that advance the gospel and are part of the local church’s outreach. Now you see the connection to advancing the kingdom and the convergence of passion performance and promotion of the kingdom.
How do you fulfill (do) your calling? Your calling may change in different seasons of your life. But in every season of your life you must be about Your Father’s business. Accepting your responsibility and doing your part in the “family business” it is a rite of passage that reflects maturity as a follower of Christ. Simply stated if you are a follower of Christ, you must be about your Father’s business.
You need to prepare for life and calling: Too many followers of Christ will spend 25-35+ years of their most productive life so focused on their career that they neglect their calling. Many plan to begin to discover their calling and fulfill it after they retire or after the kids have left the nest. Unfortunately many of these people feel too tired at that point to begin their entry into the Father’s business. They are unprepared for life and calling. The time constraints of career marriage and family are real and relevant but they should not keep us from being about the Father’s business.
Adjusting priorities: Being consumed with career and family obligations are like a pendulum that is swung to one extreme end. The answer is generally not to swing the pendulum to the other extreme. In other words, the answer is rarely quit working and quit family responsibilities and serve God. The answer is generally adjusting the pendulum towards balance. You need to seek balance and margin in your life to discover and do what you are called to in the Father’s kingdom. For example, you may look at your life in this season and conclude that you can devote two to four hours a week to the Father’s business. Once you’ve made that assessment then you can devote that time to your calling in this season. You can continue to use this approach in varying seasons of life and ministry.
Many people will sense they are called to an existing area of ministry either in or alongside the local church. They align themselves with areas they are passionate about and use their gifts with others who have a common passion and complimentary gifts to advance the gospel. By dedicating time to fulfill your calling you begin to experience the satisfaction of advancing the kingdom and impacting eternity. Other people are entrepreneurial leaders who will change the status quo by fulfilling their calling by creating new areas to advance the kingdom. Regardless of what you are called to there shall be no other contentment like experiencing the fulfillment of being about your Father’s business. It is time for all of us to accept this role and rite of passage, and rejoice in advancing the Father’s business together. Know your calling and do it!
- What are you passionate about?
- What activities produce your best results?
- How do you believe that your perceived calling advances God’s kingdom?
- How do you plan to fulfill your calling? What adjustments will you make?