Pastor Anthony graduated from seminary last week. (Knox College, M.Div) He has diligently studied for three years and confirmed his calling in full-time ministry. I am excited to have a humble and growing leader as a ministry partner in Anthony.
A graduation is an exciting event. But it can also be a terrifying event. When I graduated from university, I felt very nervous because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I contemplated staying in school longer because I felt safer there. But when I graduated from seminary, I was excited because I was sure of my calling by then.
The same event can bring both fear and joy. I think it all comes down to “calling,” a sense of “why” we are on earth. Many people “spend” their lives, but people who feel called “invest” their lives into something greater than themselves. Calling helps us to interpret mundane or even adverse life events as something meaningful. But when we don’t have a calling, even good events can bring us down and cause fear.
How do we find our calling then? Our culture teaches us that calling comes from within because we are the author of our lives. So the message we often hear is to find our passion within and pursue it. It sounds good, but it is discouraging advice because most people look within and find very little passion. But there is a better way. The first step is to know that calling comes from outside of us, not within. We cannot create our calling. If God created us, then calling has to come from him. We are not pioneers of our lives. We are “discoverers” of the life that God gives as a gift.
The second step is rejoicing in what we feel called to do “now.” We can’t properly interpret what is happening in the present. We cannot also read into our future. We find calling only by looking backward when past events begin to make sense in the present and point a clear direction in the future. But those who are not joyful in the present feel blinded to properly make sense of their past, unable to find any meaning in them. Maybe that is why Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS!” (Phil 4:4) The present we rejoice in will soon become the past that will help us find our future calling.