Previous posts in this series:
– Part 1: Corporate and personal callings
– Part 2: Discerning God’s call on our life through self-knowledge
Vocation is discerned throughout our whole lives. It is not simply one monumental decision – decisions are weighty, but not total. There are too many changes during a lifetime, and it encourages us to be patient for God’s timing. He has our whole lives to make our vocation clear.
Think of David in 2 Samuel. He spent a great deal of his life waiting – something like 15 years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel to the time he became king over Judah. It was another seven years before David was anointed king over all Israel. This means that David waited over 20 years of his life to be made king, yet God fulfilled his purpose in David’s waiting. As we wait, we should build houses, find jobs, marry, have kids. You have a future, so keep going. Waiting is a significant part of each of our lives.
This means that we are free to make those decisions one step at a time. Remember, decisions are weighty, but not total. One decision will not alter the course of your life forever. They are not greater than God’s sovereign plan for your life. Sometimes we seem to think of God’s will as a tightrope, and if we make the wrong decision, we will fall off of the tightrope and out of God’s will. But I think a more biblical picture is that God’s will is like a canyon. It is wide and deep, and if we are in Christ then we cannot make the wrong decision that will throw us out of that. We cannot easily climb out. Unless a decision is sinful or made with a blatantly foolish mindset, there might not necessarily be a wrong decision.
The last way to discern vocation is through community. There are biblical warnings against isolation – it is not conducive to discernment. We are to be known by others so they can speak into our lives. My closest friends and mentors know me so well that if I make a decision (or I think about a decision) that doesn’t sound like it’s on target with who I am and who they know me to be, they have no problem telling me so, forcing me to consider what I am about to do. Discernment is not a solitary, independent process, so include others in on your thinking.