Monday, July 9, 2007

Calling vs. Task

All my life I’ve thought of the work I do as a fulfillment of God’s calling on my life. But I’ve often struggled with the fact that the calling seemed to change frequently, according to the stage of life I’m in. And that didn’t make sense to me. I’ve often said jokingly, “I’ll be glad when I grow up and know what I’m supposed to be doing.” But I turned fifty at the end of last year, and I still haven’t “grown up”??

Well, this past week, I learned the difference between my calling and the tasks the Lord asks me to do. I teach a small ladies Sunday school class. We are slowly working our way through Beth Moore’s study Jesus: The One and Only. Excellent study. By slowly, I mean we do one day’s study in the book per week. We started last fall, and now we’re almost halfway through.

This week our study was on how Christ sent out the disciples two by two to minister to people in the small villages surrounding Capernaum (Luke 9:1-11). Beth pointed out the fact that the disciples were already called. That happened when Jesus spoke to each one and said, “Follow me.” But in this instance, He was tasking them with a specific mission: Go out and preach the kingdom of God to the lost sheep of Israel. And He gave specific instructions and equipped them for the work. Since they had already surrendered to Jesus’ call, it wasn’t difficult for them to obey—in spite of certain fears, misgivings, and, I’m sure, wonder at being chosen.

Finally, I got it! All the many things I’ve done as a teen and adult, I’ve done because first I was surrendered to God’s call on my life: to be committed to a relationship with Him. He’s equipped me to accomplish the many, seemingly varied, tasks He’s asked me to do. Since a young teen, I’ve known my primary spiritual gift is teaching. I thought at first it was to teach in a classroom. And because I was so shy, I decided to teach children, the younger the better. And God allowed me to start out small. Now I see that He used each of those experiences so that I could gain confidence in the abilities He’d gifted me with. Because when I taught first grade my first year out of school, I couldn’t understand why they drove me nuts! We moved, and I taught fourth grade. Much better! Then I had my first child, and God enabled me to be a stay-at-home Mom for the next thirteen years. And I quickly realized that in raising my children, I was also teaching. When I went back to teaching, it was in the high school! And I started leading a ladies Bible class. . .that grew in number until we were running between sixty and seventy ladies. This was way beyond what I ever expected, especially the fulfillment of what I thought were pipe dreams before. We moved again, and I was now the kitchen manager at a Christian camp in Colorado. Teaching? Yes, training my assistant who didn’t even know how to cook when she and her husband joined us in running the camp. Now she runs that kitchen better than I ever did. . .and puts out meal after delicious meal for the largest groups that camp has ever experienced. We’re no longer with the camp, and I’ve again taught high school English and Spanish, and now teach others how to write well and effectively through the editing and teaching at conferences I am now tasked with.

As for writing, I’ve always had the desire to write. But God told me that it was one of the tasks He had for me when my firstborn was a baby. (She’s now 25!) I attended my first writer’s conference back in the early ’90s. And I’ve taken several writing courses. Several published articles later, many Bible studies later, and now I’m writing fiction. There have been good writing seasons, and there have been dry times when I’ve dealt with life, fulfilling other tasks that have taken the forefront and most of my energy. Yet, I’ve never been released from the task, though I’ve often questioned God if that truly is His intent for me. In so many, many ways He’s confirmed that I’m to continue, but He’s also confirmed that those “rest” periods from writing are ordained by Him. Look at what He asked the disciples to do when they returned from their time of intense ministry: Go to a secluded spot to rest. While some of my “rest” periods have been that, most of the time they’ve been wilderness experiences where He has drawn me into even closer relationship with Him. Not always fun experiences, like the one I’m coming out of now after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and my mother in six months. But always blessed times with Him.

To God be the glory! He showed me this last week that the things He’s “called” me to do, the tasks, have all been a part of His primary calling—to be committed wholly to Him. Finally, I see that I have grown up. And I’m excited to see how He’s going to continue to equip me for further service to Him.


D. Gudger said...

I love your blog! Grammar is my ultimate weakness. I'm so confused by all the different phrase types (what's a nomative phrase? like that mentioned in the "that" post?).

You can be sure I'll be coming back to learn how to self-edit my WIP.

tonya said...

Great post! I think as women and artists are lives are somewhat fluid in vocation and task. So many of us wonder if what we are doing is from God. The way you explained this was wonderful. Have a great vacation!

SuseADoodle said...

Just found your blog today (8/17) ... will be back often. :-)

Thanks for posting this. So many of us do wonder if we're "on the right track" and don't always recognize the changes in our "task" as God at work in our lives.

I call it "PMS" -- Personal Mission Statement -- with our Purpose, our Calling, our Office and Gifts (and though I didn't use the term Task in there, it fits into office and gifts, I think) fitting into the whole of "why am I here?"

If you'd like to check out my take on it, (not told so well with personal examples), visit me at:

Thank you for your blog! Finally, the Internet has purpose -- blogs!

God bless.