Listening for All God’s Callings in Our Lives

Listening for All God’s Callings in Our Lives

Years ago, while living on the island of Cyprus, I asked a friend if I could use his phone in his apartment. Since he wasn’t planning on being home, he gave me his key and asked that I not be bothered by his “knickers” being strewn about his living room. I chuckled and asked him if he wore “knickers.” He replied, “of course. Don’t you?” My response was that I had worn “knickers” once in my life and that they were a wool plaid pair that my mom had made. I assured him that I had not worn any since childhood. You might guess where this conversation went. My friend was British, and “knickers” meant underwear to him and for me “knickers” meant “knickerbockers.” My friend and I laughed at our confusion but also marveled at different cultural understandings of the term, “knickers,” as well as other linguistic differences.

I often experience the use of the word “calling” in a similar vein in Christian circles. Like my interaction with my British friend, I use the word to mean one thing and others may interpret and use the word differently. The questions of “how to find your calling” or “how do I know what God wants me to do” seem to focus on calling being a career choice. Other uses of calling may include an approach to a specific situation or season of life, or simply feeling a tug on our hearts by God for a particular course of action. Regardless of the use, each question/use suggests that a person is seeking to be obedient to God; to honor God; to glorify God; or simply to be living one’s calling.

Os Guinness, in The Call, defines “calling as the truth that God calls us to Himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to His summons and service.” Guinness goes on in his book to unpack a biblical notion of calling that he opines Christians are to embrace and steadfastly hold onto.

I have mused on my calling and my place here at Fresno Pacific over the last several months. Perhaps, many of you have as well. Even as I have prayed for faculty, staff and students in this season, asking God to comfort, to renew, to encourage and bless each one, I have wondered, what is God calling us to? What is our calling in this current environment? Certainly, all of us would agree that these months have been transformational on many fronts for our students, staff, faculty and administration. We may have asked ourselves, as the Psalmist does in Psalm 13, how long Lord, will it be forever, how long must I wrestle with my thoughts.

Regardless of how one defines or uses “calling,” we cannot ignore the fact that as Christians, we believe that a calling comes from God. Recalling what Guinness notes, “everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to His summons and service.” We ought to ask ourselves, are we obedient to his summons? In the long-term? In the short-term? How are we each currently recognizing the call to action in our daily lives? Gregg Levoy, author of the book Callings, explores how individuals can recognize calls to action in their daily lives. Levoy recently opined that the “pandemic surfaces wholly new kinds of opportunities, for both individuals and organizations. COVID-19 is creating an environment that cues unexpected and unique possibilities.” 

Callings-inspired work and workplaces begin with the individual and permeate the institution. We often reflect on the FPU Idea, which “serves as a center for reflection and action and as a guide for forming a vision of the future.” Is our present work callings-inspired? Is our present work helping to form a vision of the future? Do we view our callings as “cues for unexpected and unique possibilities?” Levoy continues, “we want to feel called, not just driven. We want work to be a channel through which we express our passion and vitality, not a chin-up bar we have to pull ourselves up to every morning.” As a Christian, I want to embrace my work as calling, which requires a daily obedience to God, as I respond to specific situations or course of action. Our work at FPU is kingdom-work. Our work is callings-inspired work. In the midst of this challenging season, let us remember that our faithful God calls us to himself and regardless of how we define calling, we are drawn into a dynamic and devotional relationship with our God who asks us simply to trust and obey.

Connections
D. Gayle Copeland, Ph.D.

D. Gayle Copeland, Ph.D.

Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer