There is something we love to offer; some particular, powerful way that we see, hear and/or perceive.  When we are aware and clear on what we have to offer (our glory: brilliance, strength, beauty, splendor, abundance) we can be far more discerning as to what opportunities we are to take or what tasks we need to release.  We know how God has gifted us and whether our glory is needed in a certain situation.  When we are clear about who we are and what we have to offer, we are not as easily seduced by the needs, predicaments, urgings, prodding’s and manipulations of others.

The glory of our life answers the question, “What do I have to offer?”  As we gain clarity about our glory another question arises, “Toward what end, what purpose, what cause?”

Many people begin the pursuit of their calling by looking for a cause that they can give themselves to… and eventually find themselves living a life that is far from the desires of their heart.   It is unhelpful to start with a “cause”.  We must instead pursue the discovery and development of the glory of our life.  Too many people have allowed their life to be contained, limited and defined by a “cause,” only to find that the very thing that energized their life, was now draining the life out of them.  How often have we entered into a cause with excitement and passion, only to leave burned out and resentful?  You see, our life is far bigger than any job, position or cause – these kind of positions are simply places of contribution… these causes touch who we are, but they don’t define us.

The genesis of a personal cause

We live in a day and age of massive exposure to the needs of the world.  If we pay attention to the conditions of our surroundings, if we read or listen to the news or if we watch any educational shows, we are aware of a myriad of needs.  Some needs grab our interest, while others do not.

Out of the needs that we take interest in, some can evolve into concerns – things that we occasionally think about, read about and talk about.  But these concerns are still to numerous and distant from our heart to really act on or do anything about.

However, a few of these concerns will become burdens – things which for some of us, will carry an undeniable and profound weight.  Burdens create a yearning or demand that someone do something concerning the issue.  The heart can only carry a few real burdens.

One or two of these burdens will reveal themselves as “our cause” – something that we cannot escape, nor do we want to – at a deep level.  A personal cause cries out, “I have to do something about this!” rather than, “Someone ought to do something about this.”  This burden goes beyond just reading, thinking and talking about the need.   It goes beyond sensing the weightiness of it.  The burden becomes compelling – something we must do, something we structure our life around, something that we will sacrifice for, something that will give us a directional heading.

Identifying a Cause

Let me make this more personal.  (Needs) I am constantly reminded about the corruption, arrogance and foolishness that permeate many governing institutions.  I am deeply aware of the brokenness and bondage of the human heart and the corresponding deception and despair that reigns over people’s lives.  I am conscious of the financial plight we are getting ourselves into as a nation.  I notice the irresponsible and damaging ways that we manage the environment.   I am mindful of the dangerous and hideous things that are occurring around the world.

(Concerns) I find myself paying special attention to anything that touches on the potential of the human heart – books, articles, movies, speakers – from a biblical world-view standpoint.  I love to read or hear about people who (often unnoticed by others or even themselves) offered what they saw, knew, imagined or could do and in so doing really changed things.

(Burdens)  I am unsettled by the diminishment, dismissal and side-lining of individuals who carry the image and glory of God – be it through the relentless assault of the world and Satan or the abuse and abandonment of people.  I am disturbed by the quick-fix teaching and counsel about calling that ultimately disheartens people, distancing them from God.  I absolutely love when I see the glimmer of the vein of gold that runs through a person’s life, but more importantly, when they recognize and own the glory of their life.

(Cause)  I love and am compelled to help people recover their heart, walk with God, interpret their life, offer their glory, and persevere with joy.  I want to “spur [others] on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24), “warn[ing] those who are idle, encourage[ing] the timid, help[ing] the weak.” (I Thess. 5:14)  I know that my impact is limited, so I want to come alongside others who are compelled to do the same.  (Calling/Glory) I am to do this by bringing clarity, focus, design and intentionality to others.

(Mission)  I want to help people realize the life they were designed to live that brings life to others.

Writing my progression through “needs, concerns, burdens and cause” took quite a bit of time and fighting-through for me, surprisingly.  But spending time with this progression brought me some valuable clarity.   Let me encourage you to try it yourself.

Your inquisitive friend,

Gary

What is my calling?

Over the years I have had individuals tell me, with a degree of embarrassment, that they still aren’t sure what their calling is or if they are in the right place. I find that the older a person is, the more honest and perceptive they are about their heart and life…and the more shame they feel about their uncertainty. Permit me to shed some light on our collective experiences.

Everybody revisits the questions of “who am I”, “what do I possess that I am to offer to the world” and “where is my place.” I do. I used to wonder why I circled back to this same question every year or so. Was I simply walking around a cul-de-sac instead of making progress up the road? Then I realized that I was asking the same question but from a different place. I was a different man from the last time I asked these questions – I had gained a little more experience, understanding, perspective, intimacy with God. My journey may be circular, but it is an upward spiral. There is nothing wrong in asking this question frequently and consistently – we should and we must.

2 Cor. 4:16 (NCV) So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.

2 Cor. 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Everybody is beleaguered by doubt and condemnation which comes from thoughts like, “you should know this by now” or “just grow up and be content.” After all, we are up against the unholy trinity – the world, the flesh and the devil.

World: 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

Flesh: Gal. 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Devil: Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Nobody knows with complete clarity and certainty what their calling is. I know several people who are so precise and intentional about their life, and their contribution is so weighty, yet they also wrestle with the mystery of their calling. I have been studying “calling” for over a quarter of a century and yet there is still much more clarity I need and desire regarding my life – I’m still wondering.

1 Cor. 13:12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.

So, let’s not stop asking and seeking (Luke 11:9) for a deeper understanding of who we truly are and what our place in this story really is.

Gary