Knowing Your Call
I was never supposed to work at a church.
No, really. NEVER.
I studied theater and elementary education because I was going to art direct a children’s theater.
That was the plan.
Life happened. I was on a trajectory and the coordinates somehow got changed.
Long story short, I ended up landing a teaching job with Jenna at a Christian school in New Jersey.
And I liked teaching. I was good at it. No, really good at it… except for not really knowing how to discipline a classroom of 30 sixth graders, but that’s another story for another day.
I actually liked teaching, but by January I had this feeling that this wasn’t how I wanted to teach. I didn’t want to teach facts and figures. I wanted to communicate the Bible and live life with these kids, which when the goal is learning grammar that just wasn’t going to happen.
I was even offered the theater department and a traveling drama team. And still, I knew it was time for a dramatic career change. I began looking for a seminary and by May was set to move with Jenna to Grand Rapids after the school year let out.
I’m sure those two years seemed like a whiplash of immaturity going from children’s theater to the classroom to seminary. But I KNEW it was time to go; my calling had changed.
I knew I couldn’t sign a contract for another year, not because I had a “feeling” that the job wasn’t a good fit for me. I couldn’t sign that contract because I could actually verbalize why the job wasn’t a good fit for what God was calling me to do: live life on life with kids, communicating His word, and interacting with them over real-world faith issues, not the faith found in a Bible text book.
Know your calling.
If I made occupational decisions based on every “feeling” I’ve had, I would be on my hundredth job by now. You can’t leave for a feeling. Feelings change on a whim caused by everything from a bad cup of coffee to a difficult conversation with a volunteer or parent. While some of these interactions may in fact be reasons why God might be calling you to leave, these also may be just the type of interactions God wants you to endure as part of what he’s doing in your life.
This time around God was giving me clear moments of clarity that showed me where I was thriving in ministry. It would be difficult, but I knew I needed to take an honest look and see if where I was at in ministry was fulfilling that. God was telling me to wait on him, but he was also giving me an idea that he was moving me out. I didn’t know where, but I knew that in my next phase of ministry I’d be doing more of what I love.
If you can verbalize in one sentence what you expect from the next phase of your life, chances are God is asking you to move. In that case you should probably take the time to begin re-envisioning what your life could look like by following His call. If you decide to leave, do so because God wants something different for your life, and He’s calling you to do everything in your power to make that happen.
If you’re unsure, stay and wait. Pray and seek guidance from God and trusted mentors. Find your strengths and play to them. Live in the tension of life in between. Eventually a calling will emerge. When that happens, go.
You might be asking yourself: I don’t feel called to leave; why is someone asking me to leave? We’ll discuss that tomorrow.
For more on Knowing Your Call, check out this great message from Jeff Manion this past week.