Reflection: Calling begins with orientation

By Ian Adams, Mission Spirituality Adviser

I find it to be a vital practice to regularly return to the question of my calling.

And here’s an interesting thing that I’ve slowly discovered. Although outcomes are important to a calling – my role, my job or my work – what seems to matter far more is my orientation.

Is my whole being increasingly aligned towards Jesus the Christ? Or is he sometimes a peripheral figure? If I get my orientation right, my experience is that, in the grace of God, everything else seems to find its right place, at the right time.

In the gospels a repeated invitation issued by Jesus is “Follow me”. The details of what that might look like are not spoken of. They will emerge in time as following Jesus is made the priority.

The most essential element in our calling is to be devoted disciples of Jesus – loving God the Father, living in the flow of the Holy Spirit, engaging with our world in the way of the Beatitudes. Out of this growing alignment will emerge the details of our calling over time.

So these might be good questions to ask yourself:

  • Where is my orientation at this time?
  • In what (or perhaps in whose) direction am I facing?
  • And how can I orientate myself once again towards Jesus today?

In the light of such a continual commitment to reorientation we will be better able to discern and follow the details of our calling.

And here’s another interesting thing that I’ve discovered about calling. Our participation in Jesus’ liberating mission will feel natural (though not necessarily comfortable). Your mission will probably look a lot like you!

At times your call will be demanding. It is a costly thing to follow Christ in and for his world. It may require way more of you than you can imagine. But at the same time there will be joy, peace and fulfilment, because your calling will go with the grain of who you are.

So with the Psalmist we may discover a growing sense that our whole life is becoming a song of praise:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28.7 NRSV

God seems to delight in encouraging us to become fully ourselves in Christ, encouraging us to allow the unique mix of gift, story and passion that is present within each of us to shape us and our mission.

There’s no short-cut with the orientation work that I’ve suggested here. But the good news is that this is not a ladder of achievement. It is rather a daily choice – and a lifetime’s work. A joyful and demanding task that begins again each morning. Give yourself joyfully to the process of continual orientation towards Jesus, and then the details of how your calling works out “on the ground” will begin to take shape.

A key theme in our work and prayer as Church Mission Society is to encourage and enable people to discover their calling, and to put it into action. Please get in touch with us if you sense that you would like to explore what the details of your calling in mission might look like. We’d love to hear from you – email vro@churchmissionsociety.org.

If you’d like some help as you reflect further on calling, sign up for our email series on exploring your call.

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