I am increasingly encouraged to see the Body of Christ interested in discovering the purpose of their lives. Instead of being content to simply walk in their identity as "Christians", many believers [who make up the Body] are seeking to fulfill God's will in their lives. If discovered properly, we are able to discern our calling in life, and by utilizing our gifts from the Holy Spirit, we are able to accomplish that which God has ordained in our lives. Should be easy to understand, right? But I am discerning that many Christians don't have the correct perspective when trying to walk this out.
You see, our human nature [or the Church] often decides for us what our "calling" is to be. It might be the exciting and fruitful ministry of another that we would love to emulate; or a particular area of ministry that has always fascinated us, so we announce that God has shown us our calling. But that's not how it works. If we are truly redeemed [we know that we are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ, and we have surrendered and submitted our lives to His authority] then it is not our mind that determines our calling, but the mind of God which is received by the Holy Spirit in us. You see, Scripture tells us that we are God's workmanship
[His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn
from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good
works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He
set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He
prearranged and made ready for us]. That is Ephesians 2:10 in the Amplified version.
Do you see how important it is that we understand the "spiritual mechanics" of how we come to receive our calling? It is God's mind -- not ours -- that has determined our "good works"; they were not only created for us by God, but they have been prepared for us before we were ever born. They are waiting for us to step into them, and we have been called to them --we have not called them to us!
In today's world of internet technology, it is easy for our minds to think we identify with the image we see on a computer or phone screen, and for our soul [which is our mind, our free will to make decisions on our own, and our emotions] to determine that we have been shown what our calling is supposed to be. But that's not how it works! We know that, when we receive Christ's salvation, God's purpose is to conform us and grow us into the image of His Son. The Holy Spirit, as our guide and counselor, knows the purpose of the Father for our lives, and begins to work in us to help us come to the conscious awareness of what the Father has prepared for us as our calling.
But just as we must decide to use our free will to accept Christ as our Savior, we must decide to answer "yes" to our calling. We must mature in our faith to be able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from our own voice. Our soul must yield to our spirit's connection to the Holy Spirit, and then we can truly realize what God has planned for us from the beginning of time. That is our part in the process, and when we are convicted in our spirit that we are correctly hearing the mind of God in our calling and purpose, then it brings so much glory to our Father! Remember, we are created to glorify Him to all His creation. It is 2 Peter 1:10 that tells us, Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. [I will come back to the qualities one must have to support our calling in a moment].
It is important, at this point, to understand that our calling is for the purpose of our work in the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a given at this point. John 3:1-5 makes it clear that we cannot enter the Kingdom [and therefore do work for the Kingdom] until you are "born again", which is Salvation. So, our calling is the beginning of our journey and purpose in the Kingdom of God here on earth. Once we've discerned [with our spirit] what God has called us to, the Holy Spirit will grow us in our calling and we will move from glory to glory as we serve God in His Kingdom. But, there is another important factor that we must consider: the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us carry out our calling.
Scripture makes it clear that God decided before we were born what He was going to call us to do in His Kingdom. We don't get to decide what our calling is; we only get to decide if we are going to say, "Yes, God". And God wants us to succeed at our calling and accomplish the works for the Kingdom because our obedience and our diligence in that calling glorifies Him. That's where the "qualities" mentioned in 2 Peter 1:10 come into play. The qualities that we must have to fulfill our calling are virtue [or moral righteousness], combined with Godly knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. That's a pretty tall order for us as humans! If I had to rely on myself to have these qualities to fulfill my calling, it would be impossible. But we can't do it on our own, and God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us accomplish the work for God's Kingdom that has been ordained for us.
In fact, the Holy Spirit brings a variety of gifts to empower us to do what God has called us into. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed by Him as we develop and grow into our calling, and as they are needed (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The gifts are: 1) the power to speak a message of wisdom; 2) the power to express a word of knowledge and understanding; 3) the power of faith; 4) the power to heal; 5) the power to work miracles; 6) the power to prophecy; 7) the power to discern [or distinguish] different spirits; 8) the power to speak in different tongues [unknown languages]; and 9) the power to interpret those tongues. And I would like to emphasize, that according to the Bible, All these things [the
gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought
about by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, distributing to each one
individually just as He chooses. The power belongs to the Holy Spirit, not us.
Here is what the Body of Christ needs to understand ... Our calling is our ministry. But our ministry is not determined by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts support our calling and the Holy Spirit will apportion them as we need them so that we are capable [and competent] to remain steadfast in our calling. And here is where I see the failing of the modern Church. We, as Christians, don't really understand what "calling" means, nor do we understand what the gifts are or how they are to assist in our calling. Our churches often determine what an individual's calling is by having members take a "test", and the results will show leadership that your "calling" might be youth minister, Sunday School teacher, music, baptism team, pastoral ministry, or any number of "functions" that serve the church. But God has planned for greater works that benefit His Kingdom! Our calling should relate to His purpose for His Kingdom, not fit into an organized structure developed by man.
The same kind of confusion accompanies our understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We don't get to choose which gift we have. The Holy Spirit will provide the gift that is appropriate to advance our work for the Kingdom. We cannot and should not deny receiving any of the gifts at any time that the Holy Spirit determines we need them. And the gift is not our ministry. For instance, the gift to empower healing will be given at the moment you need it to further the purpose of God in a person's life. We should not then declare that we have a "healing ministry". We have the ability to utilize all the gifts in our calling, as determined by the Holy Spirit. We don't want to limit ourselves in our work for the Kingdom.
I have often spoken that the Lord brought a ministry of Inner Healing to my husband and myself, but I should more correctly say that our calling is to introduce the Kingdom of God in a person's life by bringing freedom in Christ and working with our Lord to deliver them out of their bondage so they can find their own purpose and calling for the Kingdom. And we do explain that larger meaning when we explain our calling. And in the process of our calling, we have at various times, been empowered to express wisdom and knowledge and understanding; we have encouraged faith; we have laid hands, which imparted physical healing; we have seen miracles through our obedience; we have prophesied over a person's life; we have been able to discern different spirits of anger, lust, unworthiness, etc; we have spoken in tongues when prompted by the Holy Spirit. As of yet, we haven't been given the ability to interpret another tongue. But my point is that our calling is to bring people into the Kingdom of God, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to give us whatever gift we need [in the moment] to accomplish God's purpose for an individual's life.
As I mature in my calling, my hope is that I bring the Light of the Kingdom, which is Jesus, into people's lives so that they will say, "Yes, Lord" to the calling God has purposed for them. In our journey with the Lord, we are to grow more each day into His image. I want to encourage people to discover their calling, and manifest the gifts of the Spirit, as needed, so that the work of the Kingdom is done here on earth. Let us understand the will of God in each of our lives, and glorify His Name in all we do!
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence ...