Living out our calling

March 09, 2017

What's working well for you?
I know that excellent things are happening across the Minnesota Conference to raise up and launch disciples. Being new here, I’d love for you to share these stories with me! I want to know:
• What’s working well in your local church to develop, equip and launch Spirit-filled leaders into the world?
• How is your church creating a culture of call? What has helped you hear your call and respond?
• What’s your best discipleship process?
Please send me your stories and thoughts:

Everyone is called. Everyone has a ministry
. These lead off my list of beliefs about leadership development for the church. There are only a few words in those two sentences, but they are oh so important!  

        Everyone: Just to be clear, this means you!

        Call/called: A message, some information or guidance, a longing or an urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.

        Ministry: Service as participation in the ongoing ministry of Christ, who invites us by the power of the Spirit.

When I was younger, I thought of “called” and “ministry” as words that pertained only to ordained clergy, not the rest of us. Like a club with secret passwords or the mystery underneath my car’s hood, they were things I didn’t need to know about. I’d leave them to the pastors and priests—just as I'd leave my car problems to certified mechanics.

But that didn’t last. God presented opportunities to challenge my perspective.

When I started to think about what I was going to study in college and what work I would do in the world, questions started to slip into my thoughts. What do I love? What is going to make a difference? What is meaningful workto me and to the world? What is worth doing? I started to inquire and to listen. I asked for guidance. And, as I started listening, I began to hear more, see more, and feel more. I began to understand what it meant to be called and I realized that it was a two-step dance: the call and the response. I was in dialogue with God/Christ/the Holy Spirit and even more curious about those words: everyone…called…ministry. 

It was somewhere around that time that I read Richard Bolles' book How to Find Your Mission in Life. Bolles talks about each of us having three parts to our mission:

“Your first mission here on Earth is one which you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and it is to seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived. 

Secondly, once you have begun doing that in an earnest way, your second Mission here on Earth is also one which you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and that is, to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.

Thirdly, once you have begun doing that in a serious way, your third Mission here on Earth is one which is uniquely yours, and that is: a. to exercise that Talent which you particularly came to Earth to use—your greatest gift, which you most delight to use, b. in the place(s) or settings(s) which God has caused to appeal to you the most, c. and for those purposes which God most needs to have done in the world.”

This three-part mission made sense to me; it energized me. Bolles was the first person I remember telling me that being a career counselor/coach was a calling from God. I had felt this calling but until then hadn’t had someone reflect it back to me and encourage that interpretation. So early in my career, I found myself at Macalester College, serving as a career counselor. That experience and the discernment that led me there started to define my participation in ministry.

Since then, I’ve been enthralled by many books, people, and places, each one deepening my perspective and experience living as a person who is called by God and serving this world as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Partners in ministry, how have you been called? How are you participating in the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts:
“There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than that of society, say, or the superego, or self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) the world most needs to have done.”  
Wishful Thinking—A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner

Jody Thone is director of leadership development for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058