How to Discover God’s Call Through Your Abilities

05 Jan
Got Purpose? - Sermon Title

(Photo credit: godserv)

I’ll bet you’ve never asked this question before, “What is God calling me to do?”

I’ll bet you’ve never struggled to find meaning and purpose, or wondered if your life will make a difference.

But for those of you who “Have a friend that struggles…” read on!

We’re continuing our leadership series on helping people find meaning and purpose in their faith lifel.  Today’s topic: How our abilities can be vital clues in determining God’s call.

Ability is linked to call

Let’s start with common sense: Would God wire you to do something, and then not ask you to do that?

God is smarter than that… and God is a planner.  I’m convinced that God gives us abilities to further God’s purposes.

“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (Rom 12:6a NLT)

So one of the first steps in determining God’s call is to ask, “What has God given me the ability to do well?”

Author Erik Reese recommends we make a list of all our abilities and label them into three categories:

  1. Things I LOVE to do
  2. Things I LIKE to do
  3. Things I can do without

After identifying those things you love to do, find ways to do them in various settings (e.g., your home, school, workplace, church, small group). A sense of fulfillment and purpose should surface fairly quickly IF… we have properly identified, and then intend to use our abilities for God’s purposes.

But that is the next key:

Finding Purpose is Linked to Use

We’ll never discover God’s call and find purpose and meaning by talking about abilities. We find purpose and meaning by using our abilities. And unless you’re brilliant or incredibly lucky, you may not get it right on the first try.

Abilities must be tried out... experimented with… until we find the right thing in the right place. Granted we can get a head start with regular prayer, consulting with others who know us, and observing what we’ve done well, but most of us mortals have to experiment.

Experimenting, by its very definition, includes failure. Sometimes we don’t get it right. We should expect failure… we should learn from failure.  Not only is failure normal, it’s a valuable teacher in this process of trying to match our abilities to God’s call in our lives.

Yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people give up after their first try!  Finding purpose and discovering God’s call is meant to be a journey, not a pit stop.

I’ll wager that if you pry into the lives of those who feel they have found their “spiritual sweet spot” and are producing great results, you’ll find a history of false starts, failures, and “not quite rights.” I have yet to meet anyone who got it right on the first shot.

Leaders… hear this especially: you have to allow people to:

  • Fail
  • Change jobs if it isn’t a good fit

But having said that, leaders also need to know when it’s not a good fit versus when folks need some time and encouragement to develop.  Failure doesn’t always mean the wrong fit… sometimes it’s just about growing pains.  Knowing the difference is more art than science.

And don’t give someone a role that cannot fail right out of the chute.  Give them tasks and roles that won’t maim your organization should failure occur.

My recommendation: Lots of prayer, observation, encouragement, and flexibility.  In the end, the reward of someone finding a sweet spot and growing in that role is worth all the sweat equity a leader pours into the process!

So don’t give up!  Remember all of life is an experiement… and the results are worth the effort!

“Show me the person who doesn’t know their talents or hasn’t developed them for service to others, and I will show you a person who has little sense of purpose, meaning, motivation, and value.”   – Tom Paterson

What do you do well?  Where are you currently giving yourself or others permission to fail?  How do you decide when to recommend a change versus staying and growing?

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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Leadership


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