I like fashion. When I am away with my family and retreating on vacation from the mundanes of life, I gravitate to the style shows. One of my favorites is the show What Not to Wear. The show begins with a human project, someone whose life is not reaching its full potential because of the inappropriate way she physically presents herself to the world. The human projects are recommended to the show by family members and friends who love these fashion misfits. They know the hearts of the misfits and are concerned, knowing that many people will not take time to look beyond the physical and really get to know their loved ones well. So they arrange a fashion intervention which reinvents the human project's closet: out with the old wardrobe and in with the new.
The entire experiment begins with two stylists informing the human project of what not to wear and why. After several years of ministry and as I enter my final full year of seminary, I have often thought about the concept of this show. One of the common questions people ask seminary students is "What do you want, or plan, to do after seminary?" For a while, I simply answered with "I don't know," but now I'm beginning to ponder more seriously. Questions of vocation and calling should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, in the ministry, I observe too many leaders who walk around like fashion misfits—good-hearted people wearing the wrong "clothes."
As a young minister, I don't want to put on the wrong clothes. As a fellow servant in Christ, I encourage Christian leaders to consider which wardrobe or ministry items should be abandoned. The Bible has a term for this principle: pruning. In the gospel of John, Jesus referred to himself as the vine and his father as the gardener. "[God, the Father] cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:2, NIV)."
In their various vocations, Christian leaders can bear good fruit. Going from a vocation to a place of true calling, however, requires a divine intervention. Through the "vine and branches teaching," God essentially says we must be willing to let go of some of those old clothes, shoes, hats, scarves, and accessories that may be outdated or simply don't fit us anymore, so we can better see our true selves, accurately present ourselves to others, and allow him to offer us free gifts and create new opportunities in our lives. Trusting God in this way is necessary if we are to embrace our true calling.