When Our Calling Looks Different
What’s your calling in Christ? Ever been afraid to pursue it? Our mind is where all the fun begins. Oh, the battles that can be had there in our calling in this life. But God takes the pressure off of us as we put our calling in His hands. God is the One Who calls, equips, and completes the work in us all. In today’s reading, we glean 10 tips that Paul shares with us regarding the calling of God on our lives. When we feel discouraged, ashamed, or defeated in the calling of God, when our calling looks different than we thought it would, we remember that God fulfills His calling on our lives. And His way is perfect.
Bible Reading of the Day: 2 Timothy 1-2
In this second letter to Timothy, Paul is encouraging Timothy to push past fear and to boldly live into his faith. I love the opening of this letter – Paul acknowledges God in his calling and the purpose of his calling in verse 1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, for the sake of the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminds Timothy of the gift of God in him and to lay aside any encumbrance—especially fear—to exercise those gifts.
Scripture of the Day: 2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
I really appreciate the different translations on this verse. Here is the same verse in the KJV:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
The context of this Scripture is significant. Now reading the verse of the day in the CSB translation with the verses that come just before it:
“Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
Sometimes we can be intimidated to step into our calling. Fear can grip us. Fear of failure. And the fear of not being enough. But when God calls, God will equip us for that call and complete the work He began in us. When our calling looks different than we had hoped, God uses even that pain to fuel His calling.
God’s calling does not depend on our ability but on His will.
When Our Calling Looks Different—My Story
I remember when I was first saved attending a prayer meeting and a prophet spotted me and called me up to the front. I was a new Christian. And I was pretty sure he was going to call me out for something . . . but suddenly I was surrounded by people who spoke about me being on stage, singing and playing the keyboard. Y’all . . . I was a mini tuba player at the time. A trombone and euphonium player at the University of Maryland. I thought they got it all wrong. Then part of my classwork was learning keyboard by ear and a church plant asked me to serve.
Sometimes I think we can try to make things happen in our own strength. God gives us a vision and we think WE have to make it happen. Sure, we need to develop the gift, but what God does with the gift is His business.
I was afraid to step out at first, but God just poured out His Spirit and gave me song after song. Still, we can think that the calling is supposed to look different. I thought I would be on a label, maybe that was God’s purpose? Success in God’s eyes is obedience, not success in the world.
I remember feeling shame when others would measure my gifts and calling on what they thought success looked like. There would be moments of encouragement and success—getting 1st place on a TV show – “An Evening with Champions”, recording music, receiving radio airplay. But then there was the judgment from others for doing so. Criticism that I sought to exercise those gifts for my glory. When our calling looks different, we don’t look to others for affirmation, just Christ’s calling.
When Our Calling Looks Different—According to His Will, Not Ours
Naturally a timid person, I felt like this calling was for someone else. I even asked God to let someone else do it who was better at the first concert I gave back in 2002. And behind that now I can see was pride and shame and the fear of man.
But Paul reminds us that our gift and calling are not ours and not for our purposes.
“8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. ”
Paul invited Timothy to suffer for the Gospel. To rely on God’s power, not his talent. This calling was Holy. And it wasn’t about Timothy being successful. It was about him being faithful and serving according to God’s will, not Timothy’s or Paul’s.
Have you ever felt frustrated that maybe you did not achieve all you set out to? Maybe you had such great hopes for your calling or your career. Maybe you wish it looked different than it does. I think that is the problem with our calling – it’s not ours. We get focused on self and worldly achievements and forget the purpose behind it all—God’s glory. And that people might know Him.
When Our Calling Looks Different—An End is Not the End
I did not know that at the height of my music career just when things began to happen that there was sin in our ranks. And suddenly our lives were turned upside down at the discovery of sex abuse in our home. And I did not care about any success anymore. My children had traveled with me when I would go and minister and it had been such a joy, but now all that mattered was their healing. I stepped away from the ministry and just focused on my first ministry at home.
It wasn’t that I had not been focused on that ministry, I homeschooled my children and devoted all of my time to my family. But the work God had called me to was now just going to be within our home. And what a great work it was. But that mission looked a lot different than the mission I had envisioned.
God’s calling is not about us. God’s calling is according to His will. And His calling is for His purposes, not ours.
#1 God calls us. 2 Tim 1:11
“11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,[b] 12 and that is why I suffer these things.”
#2 God guards this calling. 2 Tim 1:12
“But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”
#3 We guard our minds and walk with God. 2 Tim 1:13-14
“13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
#4 Be strong in God’s grace and word. Not in the flesh. 2 Timothy 2:1-2
“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men[a] who will be able to teach others also.”
This is our calling, friends. What have we done with His word? Have we lived it out? Have we sought to share it with others?
#5 Set our expectations right. 2 Timothy 2:3
“3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
#6 Be godly—don’t be worldly. 2 Timothy 2:4
“4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer.”
#7 Do it God’s Way, not Ours. 2 Timothy 2:5
“5 Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
Oh, God, Your will be done. Help us to serve You with all humility with the lives and gifts that You have given. Keep us centered. Give us a sound, right mind, and understanding of Your will so we do not get off track in Your calling on our lives.
#8 Work hard. 2 Timothy 2:15
“15 Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.”
#9 Turn away from wickedness – examine yourself. 2 Timothy 2:19
“19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who calls on the name of[d] the Lord turn away from wickedness.”
#10 Be prepared by being holy – keep a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22
“21 So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable,[g] he will be a special[h] instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
- Our calling is not about us.
- God will complete the work He began in us.
7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan
Day #245: 2 Timothy 1-2
Scripture of the Day: 2 Timothy 1:7
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