And so it is with us. In his book A Work of Heart, Reggie McNeal recognizes that God uses culture, community, communion, conflict, and the commonplace to shape every leader's heart and define his or her calling. He writes, "The call is a mystery. It begins and ends with God, but it loops through a very human individual. It is personal, but bigger than the person. The call comes out of who we are as well as shaping who we are. It has both being and doing components…Those who describe themselves as called mean that they have made a commitment of life into God's service, to be at his disposal, to be in his employ for the efforts of accomplishing his agenda." It is important to know that each Christian, leadership title or not, has a specific calling on his or her life.
Once convicted, the anointing (or symbolic power and presence of the Holy Spirit) is what passionately drives the leader to faithfully continue the work. A true calling can be sustained only by abiding in Christ and totally depending on him. If "ministry" efforts can continue without a leader drawing near to God through constant surrender in prayer, and the faithful study of his Word, it is not real ministry at all, and it's most certainly not a calling. A divine calling cannot be self-contained by any human being. A true calling requires God to jump-start the effort and God's presence to sustain it.
The privilege of being called and anointed is a great responsibility, and it is also a reminder of how deeply we all need God. Every great biblical leader, from Moses to David and the prophets to Jesus and the Apostle Paul, understood this. The anointing of God keeps us. "For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ" (1 John 2:27b).
Through alignment and anointing, God sets us on track to pursue the vision and purpose he has for each of our lives. Our acceptance of that calling means that we say yes to God and fearlessly abandon anything that does not work toward his ends. We can answer the call of God with confidence, knowing that God does not waste anything. He uses every strength, weakness, heartache, success, relationship, and experience to shape our hearts, to draw us closer to him, and to equip us to fulfill our life's calling. God created us for his work, has already prepared the work for us to do (Ephesians 2:9), and will glorify himself through the work of our hands (Matthew 5:16).