In this brief video, Tara Sophia Mohr (not identified as a Christian) speaks in general about identifying your calling in life.
See video at end of this post…
I would note that this is just a simple motivation type talk where Tara speaks in general to anybody about their calling in life. What I took away from this is that this is exactly what you as a missionary need to understand and present to your potential missionary partners so that they understand your calling. One thing is that you are called (not all missionary candidates are called by the way), and another thing is to communicate that calling to others, especially those that support you, and those that potentially are considering supporting you. This means that you need to highly persuade them of your calling. The elements that Tara presents are very useful in this task.
7 Ways to Identifying your Calling.
1. You see a vision of what could be different.
A vision that keep showing up in your mind that returns you to this same thing. This is the calling of God to you individually. Note that most good churches do not want to hear you say that you heard and saw God and that he talked to you that way. The burden and your understanding is sufficient.
2. Pain or frustration with what is.
Calling is seen when they hear and see your present your burden for the need on your field. There are needs and issues which you are called to meet.
3. I feel like I have been given an assignment to do.
When you present your calling to churches, you need to be very careful about how and exactly what you present. I (as a veteran missionary) feel it is a great detriment to tell people that you are called to a specific place. God doesn’t call workers to real estate, but to a people. These people are often behind walls that make it impossible for us to reach them, like China. When you express your calling, if it is specifically to a people, then God will get you to those people if you submit to Him. When after 5-10 years and you still haven’t started a real work with them, what went wrong? You did. You want to get to a piece of real estate instead of minister to a people. Bob Rutledge, a friend of mine from missions classes at Bob Jones University, wanted to reach the people of India (Bangladesh I believe). They tried and tried to get visa for that, and never got anything. They moved from the US to England and started a work with the Bagladesh people in England, and had a very fruitful work among them (from what I understand). Calling is to people, and not real estate.
Calling also is to a specific ministry. Note that many missionaries also “shoot themselves in the foot” by getting way too specific with what they are going to do when they reach their ministry station. Paul, Timothy, Titus, Luke, and the rest of that first century missionary team did not say that they are going to “shine shoes of the brethren in Macedonia”. The point is that you go to represent God in His ministry in that area. Whatever is necessary, you need to undertake and do well. Sometimes that means some social type work with some people. Do it. Do it well. Don’t push it as you one and only ministry. Rather present it as an opportunity, which you undertake among all that you do.
Imagine the United States Government sending an embassador to a small country someplace around the world, and they set up an embassy with you and two others, a secretary and a guard. Your special talent is to work money orders across borders. But once they send you there, nobody wants money orders, but they want help with visas, with sickness problems and special visas to the US, with stolen documents, with adoption of a foreign child, etc. You refuse to do any of that because “it is not my calling”. How would that work?
Your calling is to do what God needs done at the moment in that station where He has placed you. Do not get boxed up into thinking that you can do only one thing, or that your calling is only one small specific thing (work with youth, work with young single moms preventing abortion, etc). Do whatever God needs you to do. You will soon be without God’s approval, calling, or power if you refuse God when He presents new needs for you to undertake. Paul at one point was turned away from Asia into the west because God moved him once on the field. Equally God speaks to ministers who are willing, easy to turn and move into new fields and ministries and needs. God did not call Paul from the beginning to where he wanted him at the end. Paul and team did some work moving up into Asia Minor, and when God saw that was done, he turned them into another ministry/people/place. Learn from the example of Scripture, and don’t be so stupid and stubborn that God cannot use you. Don’t sit still somewhere waiting on God to open a closed door. Work and see where God has opened the door and go through it if you feel that is for you. Don’t restrict yourself by your own foolishness in locking yourself into something that God has not said.
I do not endorse these ministers. Take what they say with a grain of salt understanding their other problems.
4. Feel a resonance and flow.
If you are called, then there are usually certain elements that go with that calling. First is an acceptance and welcome in your own heart and spirit to that calling of God. Moreover, there are great obstacles that constantly present themselves in our way to fulfilling our calling. This is normal. But you as a missionary must not succomb to the greatness of these obstacles. Some missionaries belabor the “hardness” of their field and calling. Hard or easy, you should undertake your calling with acceptance. Your heart should “be in” and love what you are doing, problems and all. The point has been put this way, if you could do anything else except missions, stop being a missionary and go do it instead. Missions are for those who cannot do anything but what God calls them to do.
The events and activities of your ministry need to flow from the bottom of your heart, in full sincerity and love. If you don’t want to be doing this, leave please. God doesn’t need problem people representing him to the pagans of this world. This love and sincerity that flows from your life to your ministry should be obvious to all, from the unsaved on your field, to those that accept the Lord under your ministry, to those back home supporting you. The point has to be “your ministry = you being happy”.
5. We feel great resistence towards our calling.
Our calling is not an easy thing to do or to endure. The norm is to run the other direction. By this we understand (and communicate this to others) the great difficulty of our calling. We are responding to a divine task that God has given us, and this task is not going to be easy to do.
Additionally we understand, accept, and are happy with all the personal sacrifices that we will have to make in order to fulfill our calling. Being a missionary is all about sacrificing the rest of life so that you can be a part of God’s work, which is a very special work in being a missionary. This attitude of willing sacrifice should come across somewhere in your presentation.
For an example see Missionary Presentations: Photo Montagues, Presentation by McKendrees (comments there).
6. We don’t have everything that we need.
God’s work is done through and with others. God did not set things up so that he physically would descend to earth and witness to every unsaved there is. God has set up a situation where His servants do his work, and this inter-dependence is what we need to understand is a necessary essential in God’s work. When we undertake our calling, it is not possible for us to do it alone. We reach out to others to help us (and we help others in their calling by the way), and this inter-dependence is what makes even more glory for more people.
Once you are actually doing the work God has called you to, you trust God for the resources, skills, contacts, etc. that you will need to do that work. God will supply. This aspect of missions is very necessary to understand. As a missionary, you cannot do the work alone. Wouldn’t it be great if Aunt Sally left you a million dollars and you wouldn’t need to raise support? No it wouldn’t. Those people who know you and with whom you build relationships while on deputation are the people that will spiritually pray with you through your ministry. They are necessary to you and your calling even if they never send any money. This is how missions, and how the work of the Lord works.
7. You are not yet who you need to be.
A calling into a vocation is something that is a process, it has flow, it has progress from least to more to greater. People need to grow through their calling. This means that as the demands and problems and stress of doing a thing work out, it stresses you out. The stress is part of ANY JOB AND CALLING IN THE WORLD. That stress is good and bad. You must handle it, but correctly. By this I mean that you use the stress and problems of your calling to actually grow and expand your own self. You need to be more than you were when you started.
This is not a bad thing to hide. Everybody that knows anything about life will understand this. Present this to your supporters, that God is slowly growing you as He uses you in this special place He has for you.
Why you need to spend time and energy on your calling with your supporters.
As a missionary, I understand this need greatly. First of all, these people (your supporters) are investing their time, energy, and money in sending you out to someplace that doesn’t have Christian influence, no good wholesome church, and you are to plant yourself there and work. This is discouraging if not next to impossible. The task is daunting. Secondly, the task is risky. Over my close to 30 years on the mission field, I have seen dozens and dozens of missionaries “come and go”. It is so unnerving to see a young couple prepare for 2-3 years until they finally get on the field, only to pack up and go home and give up on missions in just the first year or so of work. Doubly frustrating is to see people with much more brains, talents, and energy than you fall into sin, and go home in shame. Satan works heavily against missionaries and all those who evangelize and work in building up the body of Christ.
Your supporters need to hear from you that you are dedicated to the task at hand, and that you will not (1) get side tracked with social needs or other non-essential work, (2) not get corrupted by sexual temptations, (3) not get corrupted with spiritual temptations, like easy believism, ecumenicalism, money and power, influence brokers of churches, modern movements of popularity in Christendom, etc. (4) that you will faithfully do the do job they sent you to do.
Callings have two purposes: (1) To bring light into the world, (2) to grow us into a better person.
See also this interview with Ophray on everybody has a calling…
Note that they never say what the 4 questions are, but it is still a good discussion on calling.