Even though A Neuroscience Professor Makes Her Move to the Racetrack (Bill Finley, NY Times, 7/29/2009) is in a worldly setting, her story reminded me of the importance of embracing and stepping into our calling (as individuals and the people of God). This might mean moving in the direction of research as a junior faculty at Johns Hopkins, or away from it. This might involve living out the dreams of your earthly family, or it might not. According to Os Guinness:
Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.” — The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003, p.4.
As we enter the fall term, how would you describe your call to yourself, family, friends, colleagues? To help flesh out calling a little further, here’s an excerpt from R. Paul Stevens’ Calling/Vocation:
Understanding and experiencing calling can bring a deep joy to everyday life. Paraphrasing Os Guinness, I note several fruits of living vocationally rather than simply yielding to careerism, occupationalism or professionalism. First, calling enables us to put work in its proper perspective-neither a curse nor an idol but taken up into God’s grand purpose. Second, it contributes to a deep sense of identity that is formed by whose we are rather than what we do. Third, it balances personal with public discipleship by keeping our Christian life from becoming either privatized or politicized. Fourth, it deals constructively with ambition by creating boundaries for human initiative so that we can offer sacrificial service without becoming fanatical or addicted. Fifth, it equips us to live with single-mindedness in the face of multiple needs, competing claims and diversions-the need is not the call. Sixth, it gives us a deep sense of integrity when living under secular pressures by inviting us to live in a counterculture and a countercommunity – the people of God – so we can never become “company people.” Seventh, it helps us make sense of the brevity of our lives, realizing that just as David “had served God’s purpose in his own generation, [and] fell asleep” (Acts 13:36), we can live a meaningful life even if our vision cannot be fully realized in one short lifetime. Eighth, the biblical approach to calling assures us that every believer is called into full-time ministry-there are no higher and lower forms of Christian discipleship. — Robert Banks and R. Paul Stevens. The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press (IVP), 1997. Note: To get a feel for the excellent piece, search the book on Amazon. IVP now offers Everyday Faith eSeries.
So, take some time today or over the weekend to prayerfully consider how you articulate God’s call upon your life. Imagine conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. Practice with a close friend so that you’re ready not only for the joyful communications, but also the tough discussions regarding God’s call upon your life as it’s lived out in your current context. The preparation will be well worth it. …
[Updated links: 9/8/2011. 8:21 PM].
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!