As a preacher's kid, my youth was all about church. We discussed ministry the way some families discuss sports. When a new pastor or leader gave his first sermon, we hoped it would include an exciting story of his "calling." In fact, we were never as concerned about his resume as we were about his calling. We didn't want a businessman. We wanted "God's man." We were confident that "the called" would not lead us down the wrong path.
I'm consumed with what it means to be called. We all have talents, and even those who volunteer to clean Sunday school rooms are "called" to be helpers. Every volunteer, teacher, and nursery worker is important to God's work. Yet when we elevate leaders, teachers, and those who impact evangelism in the church, shouldn't we pray for them to have a specific calling? Will their influence and ministry have greater impact because they are called? Is there a deeper calling that goes beyond just being "willing" to do the job?
The term "called" refers to the way Jesus called his disciples. Many biblical characters made important contributions, but it was the "called" disciples who delivered the most impact. Their spiritual accomplishments highlight the idea that God's anointed work will take us down a different path.
What does "the calling" look like? It would be nice if called people looked like actor Charlton Heston when he descended the mountain as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's production of The Ten Commandments. He climbed the mountain with brown hair and returned with white hair and a beard. If the called exhibited a physical change, it would be easy to distinguish their ministry. Instead, those who are called experience an internal change. Their eyes are fixed on a bigger goal, and their actions are always filtered through God's Word. Yes, that's the mark of a Christian as well. A called person however, will jump to the big picture even faster. For example, a called person might struggle with anger, but when faced with a difficult situation his or her calling provides the necessary power to overcome human flaws and quickly become a peacemaker. God's universal plan will always win over personal desires.
Should we pray for "a calling"? Absolutely! I believe we all have a place in God's plan and we'll be more successful if we're in tune with the master's call. Ephesians 4:1 instructs us to "live a life worthy of your calling." Paul goes on to promote unity within the church and to explain that the gifts of God are for the edification of the body of Christ. In other words, we should pray to be unified, to be called, and to strive for holiness.