Have you found your calling? Everyone has a calling, no matter how they earn their living. In fact, Scripture is clear that every believer is called to many tasks, including loving others, making disciples, encouraging other believers, and teaching and exemplifying godliness, to name a few. “Calling” may refer to these tasks, but it also may refer to a very specific call by God to the individual, a call, for example, to minister to unreached people in a faraway place. In this article, “calling” refers to the way that God works through the life of a Christian to align their passions, strengths, and circumstances, sometimes including, but sometimes transcending, vocation, to serve Christ fully and effectively. (We will talk more extensively about a biblical view of calling in future articles.)
If you have found your calling, you probably went through a process a lot like we will see in the following story, and if not, perhaps it will help you to discover and pursue your calling. Imagine a DCC graduate we will call Sonya.
Sonya was an amazing teacher. She loved helping students learn and grow. She especially liked helping those students who didn’t learn like everyone else discover they could still learn. But what, she wondered, was God calling her to do? She knew her strengths as a teacher. She was passionate in her love for Jesus and her love for children. She prayed, asking God for his guidance and wisdom, asking Him to show her His calling on her life. God’s answer was always, “Look around you.” She kept looking, but nothing was coming clear to her except it seemed it had something to do with her third-graders.
Then one day, God made it clear to her. Sonya was sitting on a chair reading to her students. The story was enthralling, and the 8- and 9- year-olds were drawing so close their little bodies were almost leaning against hers. Then God brought the image to her mind of Jesus with children gathered around Him, and she heard his words, “Let the children come to me.” She knew then that her calling was to be Jesus to those children.
There were challenges. Sonya was teaching in a public school, where she was limited in what she could say about Jesus. She did some research, talked to some other Christian teachers, and found that there were many things she could do to show her kids the love of Jesus by the environment she created in her classroom and by addressing students’ questions from her view of how God works in the world. She also started a class outside of school to which she invited the parents of her English language learners to help them learn to read and speak English more effectively. In that setting she was free to talk about Jesus all she wanted.
How did Sonya find her calling? She looked at her strengths, passions, and values. She prayed and listened to God. As her calling started to become clear, she evaluated the opportunities (and the challenges) around her. The more she went forward, the more she saw a vision of herself sharing the love of Jesus with students and their parents to make a difference in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps you can relate to Sonya’s experience. We sometimes get caught up in the pursuit of excellence and success in our vocations, for both selfish and godly, noble reasons. Sonya was pursuing excellence in the way that used her gifts to help students learn. This is both a noble pursuit and a noble motivation. But, when she intentionally sought to understand the full extent to which Christ could use her to influence students and parents it changed both her approach and motivation.
Sonya’s story exemplifies the experience of many of our students and alumni. Many come to DCC without a strong sense of calling, but we strive to help them discover what God is calling them to do. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing our students and graduates discover and live out their calling.
Sonya’s story, however, also describes DCC’s journey over the past year, like this:
- We have prayed fervently, asking God what He wants us to be in this time and place.
- We have asked ourselves what our strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats are.
- We have asked ourselves what values drive us in order to identify the core values that have been constant in our DNA from 1950 until now.
- We have asked God to show us a vision of what He want us to become in the future—a vision that will propel us forward.
- We have identified our priorities in order to reach that vision.
- We have asked God what our mission should be as an institution.
I’m pleased to say that God has blessed us with these answer:
- a clarified set of values,
In the next article, I will fully describe the new mission statement and the process that brought us to this change. But, for now, here it is: “Dallas Christian College educates and mentors students to be people of influence, engaging in their calling to the work of Christ in the Church and in the world.”
Serving Christ with you,
Brian D. Smith, Ph.D.