Episode 2: Myths about Calling
You can listen to this episode here
Welcome to the the Loved Called Gifted Podcast. Your place to come for musing about spirituality, identity, and purpose.
I’m your host, Catherine Cowell.
This episode of the Loved Called Gifted podcast looks at the subject of calling myths. Now if you have never been part of a church community and you wouldn’t call yourself a Christian, and your not concerned about whether or not God has called you to do something, if that is not your frame of reference, then probably you don’t really need to listen to this podcast.
However if you have been part of a Christian community for some while, then there may well be things about the way that you see God, and the things that you have heard about calling, which could be getting in your way. So these are the things I would like to spend some time looking at today.
There are a number of ideas about calling which we can pick up along the way that actually make life harder rather than easier, things that make it more difficult to work out what it is that we sense that God is calling us to do. So in this episode we’ll take those things in turn, and have a bit of a think about each one.
So lets kick off, calling myth number one:
**What ever God wants me to do will be terrifying.**
Lots of us find ourselves really stuck by this myth, we get paralysed by the idea that if we pray about God’s call on our lives we will be told to do something absolutely terrifying.
We sort of think that the test of our faith is how prepared we are to do something that really relies on stepping out in faith and trusting God, and being prepared to do something really big. I suppose that comes from the idea that if we are “good christians”, in inverted commas, we are going to be prepared to do things which are really sacrificial, and difficult, and that is sort of a proof of our faith.
But let's take a step back from that and think about what we are actually saying. We are saying God as a parent would want to terrify his children.
There really is no evidence that it is God’s plan to make us terrified. No good parent would want to do that. If you were to meet somebody who was to say to you,
“Actually what I have decided is that in order for my children to prove their love to me, I am going to find something that each of them finds utterly horrifying, and then I am going to ask them to do that thing, and that will give us a real proof of their level of love and commitment for me.”
Really? That isn’t it is it? In fact it is quite the opposite. And no-where in the bible do we find the instruction to be afraid. So why would God ask us to do something terrifying? And where do we get that idea from in the first place?
I think one of the key stories in the bible where we get the sense that maybe God would want us to do something really difficult and scary is the story of Joshua leading the people into the promised land. If you are familiar with that story then you will probably remember that at the beginning of the book of Joshua, Joshua is receiving his instructions from God about going into the promised land, and taking that land for the people of Israel, and lots of times in that sort of conversation between God and Joshua, God says to Joshua “be strong and courageous, because I am going to be with you as you lead these people to inherit the land”.
Now why might you think that would actually be a slightly scary thing to read? Well I have heard quite a-lot of sermons, and you may well have done as well over the years, where someone stands at the front and talks about Joshua’s courage in the face of a really difficult situation, and what I find myself thinking is well could I lead a whole bunch of people into a land knowing that there was going to be war and conflict and all sorts of difficult things happening? The answer to that question is no I wouldn’t want to do that, and I wouldn’t feel competent to, but then I am not in the situation that Joshua was in.
I think we do this quite a lot, we take the stories of somebody who has done something difficult and scary for God, and then we think about would I be prepared to do that? Often the honest answer to that question is “well no I wouldn’t” but actually that is ok because that won’t be what God is calling you to do. If we take the case of Joshua, if you think about his story, one of the things we know about Joshua, is that it was he, along with Caleb, who had been prepared to go into the land of Israel and fight. It was Joshua and Caleb who came back saying “we can do this guys, we can walk in there now” it was the other ten spies who had gone to see the land who said we really don’t want to do this it is absolutely terrifying, this isn’t our thing. If we think about Joshua and who he was, we already know he was somebody who felt comfortable about going to war in the land of Israel because he was the one who had wanted to do it 40 years before. So it is a scary prospect, he is going to need courage, but this is in what you could refer to as a fulfilment indifferent Joshua’s stretch zone, and I will explain that a little bit more in a moment. In fact for Joshua, this isn’t an absolutely terrifying thing, quite as much as it is the fulfilment of a dream that he has been waiting to see for filled for a very very long time. So from Joshua’s perspective the prospect of walking into the land with an army is actually quite an inviting one. For you and I it doesn’t need to be an inviting prospect, because that’s not what God has invited us to do, and I think therein lies the crux of the matter.
We are all different, we all find different things difficult and scary, so that comes back to the idea which I am going to talk a little bit more about now, and that is the idea that we all have stretch zones, and comfort zones and panic zones. So let me explain that a little bit more.
If you imagine yourself in the middle of a set of concentric circles, and in those circles are the things that you might want to do, around you will be the things you do easily and comfortably, things you don’t give a second thought. The obvious example of this might be if you have been driving a car for I don’t know, maybe 5, 10, 20, 30 years, then tactually getting in your car and driving somewhere is easily within your comfort zone. This is something that you have learnt to do, it is something that you are able to do, you can do it without a second thought.
If you have just passed your driving test, and you haven’t been driving very long, then it might be more in your stretch zone, so it is something you are able to do, you can do it competently, but actually it does still require a bit of an effort in terms of building up your courage to do it, so you can do it but it is not that easy. Or if you have been driving for a long time, and you go to France or America and you hire a car, and suddenly you are driving a car on the other side of the road, that too will probably be in your stretch zone. It's a bit difficult.
But imagine someone says we would like you to drive this large articulated lorry from here to Skegness, and then we would like you drive down some slightly tricky windy roads, and deliver this large selection of tempered glass to a new building on a hill. That, for most of us, would be within our panic zone. That is not an easy thing to do, it is not something we are trained to do, and actually that would probably be stretching us beyond our limit.
So all of us have comfort zones where we can already do the things, and we can do them comfortably and easily, then we have a stretch zone, which is usually in the realm of the kind of things that we care about and we would like to do but which is going to be a bit difficult and demand something of us that is beyond what we have done before, and that is where Joshua is in our story. He is a warrior and he’s done this before, he understands the territory, he knows the people he is going to be leading, he has been training under Moses for quite some while, so this is something which is in Joshua’s kind of group of stuff that he is into doing. It is in his 'familiar' if you like, but it isn’t going to cause him to be panic stricken.
Things in our panic zone are those things, like the example I gave you a moment ago of driving the truck somewhere really difficult, those are things that actually cause us a great deal of stress and worry and panic.
When you are being asked to do something which is in your panic zone, then something quite interesting happens in your head. You move from the situation where you are doing logical thinking, where you are able to think cooly and calmly, and you move into a situation where you go from logical thinking to what could be called red brained thinking. Let me back up a bit here.
We have two different modes of thinking. The first mode of thinking is what you could refer to as green brain thinking when your frontal lobe, the part of you that does the calm the logical thought is engaged, and we do that most of the time actually, and that is when you are able to empathise with other people, and make plans and act sensibly, and you are able to be rational. Then we have another more primitive part of our brain, which is designed to help us if we are in a situation of imminent danger. That you could refer to as red brain thinking, so that is the thing that kicks in if you are suddenly in an emergency. That’s when if you are a cave man, it be the sort of, there is a bear coming out of the woods run now. And it is in red brain thinking that we are in when we are in our panic zones.
Now the point about red brain thinking is that actually when that is what you are doing, you are not able to think clearly and logically, you just can’t, because that part of your brain actually shuts down, the logic bit shuts down because you don’t really want to be thinking about logic and consequences if there is a bear coming at you. You don’t want to be thinking about how we might make a rational plan, you just need to run. So if we are being asked to do something that is way outside our stretch zone, into our panic zone, then most of our cognitive faculties are no longer available to us, including, and this is really important I think, our ability to have empathy and love for other people.
So if you think about what it is that we are meant to be doing in the world as Christians, we are suppose to be sharing God’s love with other people, and if we are in panic mode we can’t actually do that, we can’t show empathy, because what we are looking at is our own survival. What that leads me to think is that God’s aim for us is that we should be spending most of our time in our stretch zones, and in our comfort zones, where we can actually share God’s love with other people, where we can do things that make a difference in the world. So this idea that God is going to ask us to do something terrifying, well I don’t think we actually find that in the bible, I don’t think it makes logical sense, and it doesn’t make sense if we think about who God is as a parent. What that tells me is if you are worried about what God might ask you to do, or what God might be calling you to do, because your thinking that this is going to be something that is absolutely terrifying, then I would say you can take a deep breadth and have a sigh of relief, because that just isn’t the case.
Lets move onto our second one:
**Don’t tell God you don’t like hot weather or curry or he will send you to India.**
I wonder if you’ve ever heard something along those lines. Often it is a sort of “well God’s got a sense of humour and he will be getting you doing something you don’t want to do” although that would seem like quite a sick sense of humour to me.
We can often get this idea that as a test of our faith God will ask us to do something that we really really don’t want to do. Again when we begin to think that is how God works we are really having a very very warped view of God’s loving parentage.
Or think about what it means to be a loving parent who wants to help their son or daughter find the right career. What you don’t do under those circumstances is talk to your son who is really into accountancy and numbers and business and wants to become an accountant, what you don’t say to them is “I think you enjoy this too much, what I suggest that you do my son or my daughter, is go and join a jazz band, because I know you hate jazz and you detest the saxophone, and therefore I think that is the thing that you should with yourself, that is what you should do with your life. Go and find yourself a jazz band and learn to play the saxophone!” That would be absolutely ridiculous, and we would think if that was a human parent just how nuts and crazy that would be.
Actually we can trust that God loves all of us as individuals, he knows that we have different passions and gifts, because God has made us with those passions and gifts, so the things that we love to do are actually a really big clue to our calling. We do not need to be afraid of listening to the things that we love to do, we do not need to be afraid that God is going to call us to something that is really against our nature and that we are going to hate. We can be confident that if we are going to hear God speak to us, one of the ways we are likely to speak to us is through the things that we love.
In my work as a coach, and running the loved called gifted courses, there have been quite a number of occasions when I have had conversations with people who have something which they are passionate about, and enjoy doing, and which therefore completely dismissed as something that God would want them to do.
On one occasion it was a conversation with a woman who absolutely loved having people at her home and hosting them. Creating lovely meals for them, and looking after them, feeding them with wine and food. She spoke to me about her love of hostessing people and cooking for them and looking after them in that way, earlier in the session I was running, and then we got to the section about thinking about what God might be calling you to do, and then she was sort of a bit lost, so I said, “well you were talking about how much you love having people at your home and hosting them, and I wonder if that might be something that God is calling you to do” and she said to me, “oh no no no, that is just my guilty pleasure. That isn’t what God would be wanting to call me to do”. So there was something about the fact that she loved doing that, that made her think that would not be what God wanted her to be doing, rather than seeing the fact that she loved it, was a really big clue, that that was part of her calling, part of who she was.
On another occasion I had a conversation with somebody who was really passionate about reading and literacy and who volunteered with the local library project. She was working with a group of people, and together they were setting up a community library in her community. But she didn’t see that as part of God’s calling for her, because it was such fun, because she loved it so much. And she actually said to me, “that is not my calling, because I love that, that is my guilty pleasure”. Same words, different situations, same principle, two people who had things that they were doing which they absolutely loved, and instead of seeing those things as things that God was calling them to do, because they loved them, they thought that probably that wasn’t what God was calling them to do. God could not possibly be calling them to do something that they liked.
It is a very warped sort of theology that. Actually one of the things you can know is that if you love doing something that much, not only is that something which God is calling you to do, but it is worth remembering that there will be people who don’t love doing that. There are lots and lots of people for whom helping to set up a community library would feel as if it was very very boring. There are lots of people for whom having people round for dinner is just a nightmare, it's not something they want to do, it's scary and its terrifying, it possibly puts them in their panic zone. So it's good that there are people who love to these things, and those will be the people that God has put on this planet to do them, not the ones who will find it difficult and dreadful.
There are people who spend their lives doing things that they don’t like doing out a sense of obligation and duty, because they think that they ought to. And in doing so they quite often occupy positions that other people, who do actually like the things that they are doing, and the things that they are holding onto for dear life, or dear death, and those people are prevented from doing those things, because there is somebody carrying on out of duty who doesn’t want to give them up.
If you are doing something that you don’t like doing, if it is wearing you down, if when you do it you end up feeling drained at the end of it, then maybe it is worth thinking perhaps that is not part of your calling. And if there is something that you love, and you are walking away from because you think ‘well God wouldn’t ask me to do that’ then maybe it is time to take another look.
In all these myths there is a grain of truth, so you will probably occasionally have met people whom God has asked to do something that they didn’t want to do, or thought they wouldn’t enjoy. But when you hear more of their stories what you hear often, is that in doing those things, in stepping into them, they discover something about themselves that had previously remained hidden. They find out that they really do love the thing that they ended up doing. So to give you an example, I have a friend who insisted that he would never ever want to perform or do drama. Now to anyone who knew him that was a bit of a puzzle, because he was fairly obviously somebody who would do well at that kind of thing. He was very good at telling stories, he told them with joy and passion and a great deal of expressiveness, and then a friend of mine was doing a sketch for Easter and needed somebody to play Jesus, and she thought our friend, Tom, would be the perfect person to play Jesus. And so she asked him to do it. Tom did not think this was a good idea, Tom said he was absolutely terrified, and he didn’t like acting, and he wasn’t going to do it, and he didn’t want to do it. My friend was a pretty convinced that he was the right person and was very insistent, and in the end he did it, performed brilliantly absolutely loved it, and immediately looked for lots of other opportunities where he could try out some more acting. I do think God had pushed him through my friend to take up this acting role, I do think that was something that God wanted him to do, and it was actually in the doing of it that he discovered something new about himself, that he wouldn’t have known before. So there is a grain of truth in that sometimes God might ask you to do something that you hadn’t thought of, or something that doesn’t look on the surface as if it is something that you would like to do, but that is the exception rather than the rule, and it will be because there is something in you that will be attracted to that thing very likely, particularly if it is a long term thing, and not just a ‘well something needs to happen, or something needs to be sorted out now’ and it might not be a pleasant thing, but somebody just needs to do it. You're calling, your life calling will be something that suites you, something that is designed around who you are.
Next calling myth:
**Only the stuff you do in Church really counts.**
It is unlikely that someone will have specifically said to you that the only thing that God calls people to do to is the stuff that they do in church. However this is a message that is often given to people, not necessarily directly, but it is often given to people kind of subtly, that the things that matter, the things that really count are the the churchy things. Well that doesn’t make a-lot of sense dose it, because actually what we are called to do is to make a difference in the world. We are called to make this world that we are living in a better place, a place which is more full of God’s love (a place where God’s kingdom of righteousness and love and justice is coming) is being seen more and more evidently. So it would make absolutely no sense for God only really to be calling people to do things in church. It makes much more sense that our calling is often going to be in the work place, in the community, in fact it is probably the exception rather than the rule that God calls people to do stuff in church. However the way that Church is organised there is often a concern to make sure that the work of the church continues and goes forward, and so often the emphasis will be on the things that done in, and that are organised by the church communities that we are a part of. A fairly typical scenario, and this is a scenario which is often used, but is still worth sharing, is the example of the Sunday school teacher who is regarded as being called to do her work with the Sunday school on a Sunday morning for 40 minutes, but who also works as a teacher in her local school. And her work as a Sunday school teacher might be something which is praised and thought relevant, and her work as a Sunday school teacher might be regarded as a Christian thing - a thing she is doing for God. Whereas her work as a teacher in school might not be seen that way, it might be seen as a job that she does, but not something that people are asked to pray for her about. Or maybe you might be somebody who works as a doctor, who works very very long hours, and then is looked at with a certain amount of judgement because you don’t manage to get to all of the church stuff - because you are actually for-filling your life's calling somewhere else.
Another calling myth which it is worth taking out and shooting is the idea that:
**We have no choice in God’s plan.**
*That it is our job to listen to what it is that God is telling us to do, and then go along and do it.*
Actually our life with God is much much more of a partnership than that. We do have a free will and if you do have a Christian understanding of life and salvation then you will know that actually God went to some considerable lengths to make sure that we did have free will. So it makes sense then that God will want us to listen to our own selves and what it is that we're wanting to do, we are not just going to be in the process of receiving orders and moving forward. And in fact quite often people have stories of God making it clear that they have a choice about what to do. My friend Sean (with whom I have written a couple of books) came to a point in his life where he needed to decide whether or not to move forwards with a PhD he was doing or about to do, and after several months of thinking and praying and talking to people and hoping to hear God speak, he eventually heard God say very clearly ‘it’s up to you’. I also heard someone say once, and I think this is very true and worth holding onto: that what God wants us to become is good decision makers.
God’s will for us is that we grow as people. If you have small children then very often you need to make lots of decisions for them, because they are not able to make those decisions for themselves. Decisions about what to eat, and when to eat, and when to go to bed, and what to wear - because they might not be very aware of what kind of things you need to wear when it's snowing as opposed to when the suns out. There might be all sorts of small decisions you need to make when your children are very small. But as they get bigger, and as they grow into adult hood, more and more you expect them to take decisions for themselves - that is what it is to grow up and to mature. And so we can trust that God wants us to make our own decisions, that God is with us as we plan, and that our free will, and our opinion and our hearts desires matter.
Ok Next calling myth:
**if you take a wrong turn you will miss out on God’s best.**
This is something that is often said with a certain amount of menace and threat, the idea being that if you make the wrong decision and you go the wrong way, that you will have missed out somehow on what God wanted for you. I love the story of traditional Persian carpets.
Traditional Persian carpets are designed by an artist, and then it is made by hand by a carpet weaver. Sometimes the carpet weaver who is following a plan made by the designer will inevitably make a mistake. And then in traditional person carpet making, the designer would never ask the carpet maker to unpick the carpet that she had made, instead the carpet designer would see it as his privilege to find a way to adjust his design to incorporate the error of the carpet weaver, with the carpet being at least as beautiful as originally intended.
And I think that is a beautiful picture of the way that we walk with God. Of cause we sometimes make decisions that it wasn’t a good idea to make, and it may well be that God had a plan, and that we have strayed from it, but we can trust that as we walk with God, that God will help us, and God will be with us creating something beautiful, even if it isn’t exactly the way that it was originally intended.
It sometimes occurs to me that given that God is infinitely wise and great, and wonderful, and can do amazing things, then even if you take literally the idea that there is a ‘God’s plan A’ and a ‘God’s plan B’ for your life, and that you might miss one and be on the other, God being God, you know I don’t think I’m really that unhappy if I’m on God’s plan C or D or F or H or Z.2 for my life. If God is making the plan then it is going to be pretty good anyway isn’t it. If God is infinitely wonderful then I am not sure that any plan is going to be that dreadful. There is that often over used verse in the bible about all things working out for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes, and I think a good way of seeing that verse is to say that whatever happens, whatever decisions we make, God has a way of redeeming those things and bringing out the best. So we do not need to panic because often what that panic does is it makes it very difficult for us to make good decisions. It makes it very hard for us to make decisions because we kind of get stuck in this idea that maybe we are going to go the wrong way, and make the wrong decision, and that everything is going to fall apart, or that we are going to get things wrong and that God is going to be cross with us. We can trust that as we walk with God, God is going to help us make good where we are at. So do not worry if you are thinking “I have made so many foul ups in my life, I have gone wrong so many times, I’ve missed out on God’s best for me’ because God will make the best out of whatever situation you are in. I think that is what redemption means.
**I’ve not been a Christian long enough to have a calling.**
This is not true. There may be some things that you are not ready to do yet, but God still longs to partner with you to help you to grow, and to share God’s love with the world in whatever way. There are a number of churches that have over the years had policies around how long somebody needs to be part of the Church before they can volunteer within the church, or what kind of statement of faith or belief they need to sign before they can do something, or even what sort of sexuality they need to have before they can be a volunteer, and often if you’re part of a church which also has a view of calling as being something which happens within, and facilitated by the institution, the organisation, then quite often those sort of things can leave you feeling as if you don’t have a calling unless those things are in place. And actually this is wrong at a number of levels. Firstly quite obviously, we all have a life calling, that is not dependant on which statements of belief you have filled in, or how long you have been part of the church that you are part of. God’s call is bigger and wider and broader than that. So if you are worrying that you have not been a Christian for long enough, then you don’t need to worry about that, it is fine.
The other end of that myth is another myth which is:
**It's too late, I am too old, I cannot possibly be called to do anything now.**
If you are using age as an excuse then it is time to stop. Obviously there are some activities that are time limited, you might be too old to begin your career in the fire service, or to for-fill your dream of becoming an olympic athlete. But age also brings experience and wisdom, and if you are still breathing you can still partner with God to bring his love to the world.
I love the story that I heard on radio 4 (which is where I get much of my wisdom) there was a woman in her 80’s who was acting in the West End in the theatres there, and she told the story of how that had come to be. What had happened, is she had had a desire as a young woman to act, then along came the second world war, and she found herself in the situation where she was both being asked to serve the country in a particular capacity within the second world war, and she also had an opportunity to do some acting on the stage in the West End. And she said that she had an interview with someone from the government, from the intelligence services, who said to her ‘Well the West End will wait, but the war won’t’. And so she did what she was being asked to do. Then she got married and ended up spending the next few decades of her life bringing up children and being a good wife, and then when she was in her 80’s her husband died. And a friend of hers, and I really hope that when I am in my 80’s I have friends like this, a friend of hers came along and said ‘Well what are you going to do now? You can’t just sit around on your bum all day!’. And so she went back to the dream she had had when she was a-lot younger, and she trained to be an actor, and that was what she was doing when she was sharing her story on radio 4. So it really isn’t too late, there will be things you can do, there will be a calling that you can have, a way that you can touch the world.
Here is another one, and we have sort of touched on this in other ways already:
**It can’t possibly be God’s calling if you are having fun.**
There are times when people dismiss the very thing they are gifted and called to do, as not being from God, because they enjoy it and they believe that Christian service should be a sacrifice and difficult and unpleasant. And they think that if they are doing something that they like then it cannot possibly be the thing that God wants them to do. And actually as we sort of already talked about, the opposite is true. When we do find the thing that we were designed to do, what we tend to find is that it is satisfying, and enjoyable, and actually it is much easier to pour our energy and commitment into something that we love, than into something that makes us miserable. And let's face it if we are pouring our energy into something that makes us miserable, then we are likely to spread some of that misery to the people around us.
We all know what it is to be around someone doing something that they love. From that comes an energy and a joy and a light. So find the thing that you love, because there will be something about that which will be something about who you are, who you were made to be.
So the fact that you love something, and it is good fun, is more of an indication that it is something that you are called to do than that it isn’t.
Now this next myth is quite a subtle one.
**It is the myth that the need is the call.**
I have heard people say “if we spot a need, then God is calling us to do something about it”. That sounds very noble, and there is an element of truth in it potentially, which I will come to later, but actually it is not that helpful for a number of reasons.
Firstly there is an ocean of need in the world, and we all know we cannot possibly respond to all of it. Trying to respond to all of it is a recipe for guilt and exhaustion.
Secondly it is no the approach that Jesus took. He did not heal everyone, he did not feed everyone, sometimes he moved on from places - even when people were asking him to stay-put. So we know from Jesus life that he was looking to do the things that God was calling him to do. He wasn’t looking to meet every-bodies needs.
Thirdly, not every calling is actually connected to meeting obvious need. You might be called to write or to paint or to play the violin, and these might be things that make life better for everyone. It is very difficult to argue that your community needs violinists.
There is I think a truth in the statement that the need is the call, in that - and in this very specific way, that we are often more sensitive to needs that relate to our calling. So for example if you have a call to work with lonely elderly people, it might be that the needs of lonely elderly people are the ones that you notice. If you have a call about helping single mothers who are struggling on low incomes, then those are likely to be the things that pull at your heartstrings and that you notice. So your call is likely to influence the things that you spot. If you have a call as a musician, then it might be that you notice the quality of music education in schools, and it might be that you think somebody should be doing something about that. But it is kind of the other way around in that instance, in that the call that you have in you, is helping you spot the needs out in the world that are connected to your call. The myth that I am talking about, and church leaders can be particularly guilty of this, is where somebody is saying to you - you need to go and meet that need, because we can see there is that need in the community. And it is unhelpful, partly because it can be drawing you away from the thing that you are called to do. And also partly because some of us find it very difficult to say no, so if you are starting from the basis that you know what God is calling you to do because you can see the need, well if you are somebody who is sensitive and empathic and really has a tendency to care about what is going on in the world - and if you are somebody who finds it difficult to say ‘no’ - then saying that the need is the call is an instant recipe for burnout.
Sometimes somebody is saying, ‘well the need is the call, and I’m spotting this need and you need to go and meet it’ because actually what they are talking about is their calling, and what they asking you to do is to join in with their calling. Well unless it is your calling too, then that is not what God is calling you to, if that makes sense.
So in summary, your calling might enable you to spot needs that other people might not spot, because it is coming out of who you are and what your calling is. But just spotting a need does not necessarily mean that you are called to do anything about it. And I think if you are somebody who finds it difficult to say ‘no’ - who finds it difficult to see somebody in need and walk away, then you need to exercise particular care, and particular wisdom, because actually the needs that surround you could become completely overwhelming, and could draw you away from the things that God is calling you to do.
Ok so moving onto our final couple of myths one is that:
**We only have one call in life.**
And actually that’s not true. The stories that people tell of knowing that God has called them to a particular thing are often told by people who have a very strong calling to one thing in their lives. We can have this sense that if we are called by God it is going to be dramatic, it is going to be very clear, and that will be the thing that we do for ever, where as actually it is often much more complex than that. As we grow and mature and change and experience different things, so our calling shifts and changes with us very often. It is very often the case that we are not called to simply do one thing in our lives, but a number of different things and that sense of call will shift and change over the years. So it is worth continuing to listen and explore, and listen to your heart and what your hearts desires are. It may well be that the thing that you are called to now, the thing that draws you now, wasn’t drawing you ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago, or even last year.
And the last myth to take out and shoot is the idea:
**That God chooses some people and not others.**
There has often been a sense that there are doubly chosen people in the Christian world, who have been chosen not only to be christians, but also to do something for God. And that is often connected with the fact that we tend to see callings that are connected to church, such as a calling to become a vicar, as the best kind of calling, a kind of primary kind of calling. And then we think about everybody else's calling, maybe a calling to run a business, or to foster children or to be a mum, or a decent grandma, as sort of secondary callings that don’t count as much - and quite often those things fall off our list of what it means to be called by God. Often that sense that some people are called and not others is rooted in poor self-worth and a belief that God wants other people and not us - as I have said that is just not true - it is not just ministers and missionaries and special people who are called by God, everybody is. We all have a calling and a difference we can make in the world.
So there is my brief romp through some of the calling myths that can get in our way. And what I would suggest, is if there are some of those things that have resonated with you, and you know that you have been stuck by in-the-past. It is maybe worth taking some time to think about the things that have been holding you back. These calling myths are ideas that it would be very helpful if we could take out and shoot. So there may be some that have really been getting in your way, and you need to quietly take them outside and shoot them. So I would invite you to metaphorically do that. And you can ask God to help you lay some of those ideas down if they have been getting in your way, and move to a place where you are beginning to listen to what it is that God is calling you to, and what you sense you are being called to what it is that you are passionate about, free from the sense that it should be difficult and dangerous and terrifying, and moving much more into this sense of idea that I think is much more true, that the thing you are being called to is the thing that you were made for - and the thing that you were made for will feel like it fits, it will feel like you and it will bring you joy.
Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Loved Called Gifted podcast. If you’d like to get in touch you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, you can find a transcript of this podcast at lovedcalledgifted.com and that is also the place to go if you are interested in the Loved Called Gifted course, or if you would like to find out about spiritual direction or coaching.
Thank you for listening.
[Theme music “Nice View” by Crowander, produced by David Szesztay CC 2019, please visit crowander.com for more information. File accessed at freemusicarchive.org and used under creative commons: non-commercial with attribution].