Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Sunday Sermonizing: The Shape of Calling

There was a time when calling and ministry and service were clear and somewhat simple. I was a pastor. I was a missionary. I had a job to do that involved serving people well, sharing the hards, feet, heart, and words of Jesus, and helping people apply truth to their lives.

It wasn’t always easy. But it was clear.

Clarity can be a little tricky now.

Of course, all those things in paragraph one are still relevant. Lesson 1: These things (i.e., discipleship) are not meant for only paid professionals. Everyone who follows Jesus should serve people, share the hands, feet, heart, and words of Jesus, and help people apply truth to their lives.

This doesn’t require membership to the Clergy Club. It’s a simple matter of practical Christianity.

Of course, for people like me who have spent their lives in the "club", it makes the word “calling” less simple.

I’m not a pastor or a missionary. I will always be a pastor and a missionary. We are all pastors and missionaries. More people are doing the actual work of pastors and missionaries than I knew.

This makes “calling” as I’ve understood it confusing, at best. More than likely my understanding was wrong.

Lesson 2: Calling can be very clear. Calling can be very subjective. It will never look the same. Some people are clearly “called” to a place, to a people, or a to a particular kind of work. Others discover a kind of “calling” along the way. Yet more who never experience this sense of specific “calling” and still do meaningful, important, world-changing work.

This is an experience, and experience is never the same. Live life before Jesus as much as you possibly can. This is how you live your calling. And it will never look like the person sitting next to you. The shape of every calling is different like snowflakes and fingerprints. Don't expect it to be otherwise.

Lesson 3 — Calling is more pliable than first believed.
It's shapeshifting.
It changes.
It’s not once for all time. I've been called to places in the past. I don’t know where I’m called to right now. I may be called to another place in the future.

But the unchangeable calling is to Jesus. This I know. This is the constant.

Everything else could change. And probably will.

So Buechner’s words resonate with my soul this Sunday afternoon.

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
— Frederick Buechner