Today’s guest post is from one of my dear friends, Megan Baker. Megan and I go way back. Like all the way back to high school and the 90’s. From cheerleading and homecoming dances, to motherhood and ministry, over the years she continues to be someone I value and respect. Plus, let’s be honest- there’s just something about growing up in an era of pooka shell neclaces and high waisted jeans (before they were retro) that cements a friendship in a unique way.
She is open, funny, wise, and talented. She sings, she writes, and she has a rare ability to create comaraderie among women. Megan and I were recently having a conversation about “gifting” vs. “calling” and she had a lot of insight on the topic so I asked her to share it here.
It’s all the rage nowadays to be nurturing our unique gifting and making it our calling. Many of my peers are chasing their dreams, taking life by the horns, and basically rocking it. I see it happening all around me. Sometimes I feel like I’m in that group and sometimes I doubt it.
So how do I know what my gift or my calling is?
Colossians 1:9-12 (The Message) says, “We pray that you will live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do YOUR work. We pray that you’ll have strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
It says to be working hard in his orchard. So often it’s assumed that working “in ministry” means working in an actual church setting. God calls us to love him and love people. Nowhere in scripture does it say that this must be done in a church setting.
I am a full-time mom and I believe that I am working in the ministry just as much as any pastor, or teacher, or evangelist. God’s orchard includes all that he is tending to. His orchard is his people. All people. He loves all of them, whether inside or outside the church congregation.
Whatever the thing is that you love to do, that thing that you’re naturally gifted at, is it being utilized in a way that is loving and blessing other people?
This passage also reminds us to keep learning more and more about how God works, because this will translate into how we do our work. It reminds us to stick it out when it gets hard. Life is not easy and chasing any particular path to our “bright future” isn’t going to just happen. We have to put in the work.
At the gym I work out at, they have a big board with each day’s workout written on it, specifying what moves and how many reps to do. These reps are not a suggestion. They are not a starting off point for negotiation. I do all of them.
I do all of them because I am there to get faster and stronger and better. If I don’t do all of the reps I am cheating myself. I’ll end up wondering why my body isn’t changing and I can’t keep up with everyone else. And I get it. It sucks to come in last, and I come in last frequently. But I know that if I put my head down and keep working hard, pretty soon I won’t be coming in last because I will truly be getting stronger. As a friend of mine always says, “Don’t half-ass it, full-ass it.” When I truly work hard, I earn the benefit of genuine victory.
By working hard at the giftings God has planted in us, not only does change happen, but maturity comes. That humble confidence that doesn’t flaunt itself at every opportunity, but is wise and recognizes when to take risks and when to hold off. It fosters appreciation for growth and God’s grace to help it reach new depths. Recognizing God in the work changes it from grit-strength to glory-strength.
It’s foolish to look at someone in a position I want to be in and assume they got there easily. Sure, some of them probably did. But those that dug in and have the kind of gravitas to their work that truly moves the soul- they struggled to get there. That struggle has given them an undercurrent of character that draws people in.
So how do you know what you’re gifting or your calling is?
In a scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, Sister Act 2, Sister Mary Clarence is talking to Rita about singing and she reminds her of an excerpt from a book called “Letters To A Young Poet” by Rainier Maria Rilke. She looks Rita in the eyes and says this: “Fella used to write to him saying, I want to be a writer, please read my stuff.” Rilke says to this guy, “Don’t ask me about being a writer. If you wake up in the morning and you can think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.” I’m going to say the same thing to you, Rita. If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing first, then you’re supposed to be a singer, girl.”
What is it that you think about when you wake up in the morning? Is it getting into the kitchen and coming up with a delicious recipe? Is it sitting down at your computer and writing out your thoughts? Is it pushing your body to become stronger and more capable? Is it living in a different country and holding kids that need to be loved on? Is it focusing on God’s creation and beauty by capturing it through a lens? Is it getting down on your hands and knees and being present with your kids? Is it taking the 30 seconds that a customer is at your drive-up window to interact with them in a way that gives them a genuine sense of worth and love?
Take what you’ve been given- that is your gift. And do something with it- that is your calling.
* This is Day 28 of a 31 Day series on Keeping It Real. You can find all of the posts in this series here. I hope you follow along and join the conversation! *