by Gina Manskar
I want to speak for those who find the word “calling” to be fraught with angst.
You know, those of us who have been told not only by the church but also by the spiritual pop culture (Oprah fans, you know who you are) that we have a purpose, and we are to be about figuring out what it is and how to fulfill it. “Find your passion,” we are told. I do believe that we all have a purpose, but for some of us, a vocation or profession doesn’t necessarily define that purpose.
I’ve always taken life as it comes. If I recorded every job I’ve had, my resume would be six pages long. No one has wanted to identify her calling more than I have. I have solicited the help of career counselors and life coaches. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs assessment (I am an INFJ). I can’t say these endeavors brought me any closer to my calling, but I did learn some things. I have the heart of a teacher. I am good at organization, because I can see the “big picture” and break it down into manageable parts. I’m interested in what makes people tick. I am inquisitive and what some call a “life learner.” I thrive on variety.
It was actually a spiritual director who helped me to identify my calling. After working together for about a year, he pronounced that I now knew who I was.
“Really,” I said. “And who is that?”
“You are Christ in the world,” he replied, matter-of-factly.
That got me thinking. Maybe it’s not so much about what we do, but who we are in the doing. Christians are called to live “in Christ,” to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-14). For me, that means being a reflection of Christ’s love, a channel for the compassion of God. Do I exemplify the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)? Do others experience the presence of God through me—not by what I do, but by the spirit in which I do it?
Of course, I cannot live in Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit. Since pride is the vice that insidiously creeps into my spirit, I find myself having to continually practice surrendering my ego to make space for the Spirit to move in my being. This is what I am called to do.
Many people know from an early age what they are here to do and passionately go after learning how to do it. I have often wished that would have been my journey. But now, after years of searching, I know that my journey—my calling—is to allow God to remind me of who I am so that others may experience Christ through me.
From “Doing and Being” by Gina Manskar. Published in Alive Now, May/June 2012. Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room.