One of the most frequent statements I hear from women on the journey to clarify their calling is, “I wish God would just tell me exactly what he wants from me!” Whether we’re facing a job conflict or experiencing ministry disappointment, it’s easy to correlate difficulty with a need for change.
We also believe that if God gave us clear instructions to follow so, we could pursue our calling, we would follow them. However, this rationale ignores Jonah, who had specific directions from God and chose to do the exact opposite. Adam and Eve were provided a boundary in the Garden of Eden, and they also chose a different path. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, disobeyed God’s law. Humans aren’t great at following God’s direction. Even when we long to partner with God to fulfill our life purpose. But this doesn’t mean we’re a lost cause!
In Faith for Exiles, David Kinneman and Mark Matlock determined that resilient disciples, those that prioritize Christianity, overwhelmingly desire to align their vocation and faith. Here are four statements resilient disciples reported:
- 94% agree they want to use their unique talents and gifts to honor God.
- 87% believe God designs each person with a unique calling for their life.
- 90% say they want others to see Jesus reflected through their words and actions.
- 72% agree that their church does a good job of helping them understand how to live out their faith in the workplace.
When we’re unclear about the next steps to take as we pursue the journey of identifying our life purpose there are several questions we can ask ourselves to ensure we aren’t allowing our emotions to guide our decision-making.
What to do When You’re Questioning Your Life Purpose
Take an Inventory
Before you can look forward, it’s important to reflect on the past. One of the things that we tend to misunderstand about our callings is that it’s an arrival point. Once we’ve clarified the way God is asking us to partner with him, that’s the starting point. We need to consider how our past life experiences have shaped and guided our understanding of how to move forward. Having served in different capacities while my kids were in elementary school taught me quickly that I do not enjoy serving with young kids. However, engaging with college student while Ordell coached at the college level reaffired every year that I’m passionate about college-aged students.
In addition to experiences, this is also a great time to re-inventory your strengths, gifts, talents, likes, and dislikes. You’ve likely shifted a few interested over the years and it’s okay to re-evaluate things. Have you developed new skills? Have you discovered you’ve moved passed a previous interest?
Consider Your Roadblocks
Depending on your church background or your career industry you may have been taught some limited information about the role of women. While this certainly requires extensive study I’ll direct you to Acts 2 – Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit arrived he did so in an unmistaken way. Acts 2:2-4 records violent winds, tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them, and then the group began preaching in multiple languages so everyone present could understand in their native tongue.
Even with such an uncommon disruption there are two responses: One group essentially says, “They are just drunk” (Acts 2:13). The other asks, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12). One group dismisses the work of God even though it’s laid out right in front of them. The other wants a deeper understanding what God is doing around them. Even as we read the Bible today we fall into these same traps. For example, many read the story of Pentecost and insist that the Holy Spirit only allowed men to preach that day. But if you read just a few verses further Peter tells a different story.
In Acts 2:14-21, Peter addresses tells the crowd that they are experiencing what the Spirit promised in Joel 2:28-32. Peter wants to remind the early church that the universal gift of the Spirit is a testimony to the universal saving power of the gospel. Acts 2:18 says, “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” From the very beginning Peter established the theology of Pentecost–the idea that the gospel is for everyone, through everyone.
Sometimes we need to take time to review the information we’ve been presented and study it a little further. Have we ignored the information laid out in front of us because of something we’ve assumed? Dig deeper and see if a roadblock is self-imposed or God-imposed.
Consider Your Biases
Even Peter’s biases got the best of him as his ministry continued. (Galatians 2:11-21; Acts 10:9-48). We have to love Peter don’t we? God is so clear with him sending him dreams and interpreters and yet his Jewish training still won’t allow him to get past his cultural bias regarding eating kosher. We have to remember that our training has shaped our view through a specific lense and we will miss the full picture if we don’t consider other perspectives.
Find a Mentor
We need other people who are on our side regardless of the outcome. A great mentor has your best interest at heart and they don’t have a stake in the game so to speak. Said another way, your success isn’t dependent on their success, so they can act as a guide offering an outside perspective as your wrestle through your ideas, emotions and concerns. This isn’t to say they will support every choice you make, in fact a great mentor will hold you accountable to avoid decisions that rub against your calling in harmful ways.
Ask for Help
You may think this is ridiculous. However, the reality is that burnout is impacting women in the workforce at far greater rates than any other group. We have too much to do and not enough people around us that we ask for help. The other aspect of asking for help we need to come to terms with is accepting the help that comes our way. When we refuse to accept help because people won’t clean, cook, or take care of a chore the exact same way we will we’re exhausting ourselves unnecessarily. When you free up time you may realize that you’re exactly where you should be and you simply need more time to rest. And if you determine that you’ve neglected rest, you may need to identify other spaces where it’s time to insert self-care.
Refresh Your Calling Resume
Once you’ve examined the past and present, it’s time to look toward the future. I believe the action steps for this are best done by considering a resume of sorts. When you read a job description, you can quickly identify the gaps in your skills and experiences. If the job is one you’re sure you want to pursue, you know what you need to do to join to a qualified pool of applicants. Your life purpose is the same. Living out your life purpose is a journey that never ends, and that will also require us to have a growth mindset posture.
So, the next time you hit a roadblock and you’re tempted to question your calling, consider these six steps. Your life purpose is your opportunity to partner with God in the unique way he has designed you for. It’s exciting! And the best part is, you have your whole life to figure things out.
Want to Hear Other Stories About Women Pursuing Their Callings?
Whether you’re a coach’s wife, the wife of a professional athlete, a pastor’s wife, the wife of a CEO, a military wife, or a college administrator’s wife, you have unique challenges to navigate that differ from the struggles of other women.
This Book Will Help You:
- Engage 7 steps to clarify your calling, identify your sweet spot, and implement strategies that will enable you to live on mission.
- Identify how the 5 Stages of Burnout can impact your marriage and your ability to fully embrace your calling.
- Tackle the unique hurdles of parenting in the public eye.
- Learn practical tips for getting through the harder parts of the calendar year.