If God explained to you every single plan He had for your life, do you really think your life would be better? I think God is merciful to allow us to take one day at a time. Your calling is to die to self daily and subject each day’s tasks to the Lordship of Christ. That is hard enough to do without also knowing everything coming tomorrow.
“What is my calling?” Is that a question you have ever asked yourself? I am almost certain you have met a Christian who has asked that question at some point or is currently asking it. “What is God calling me to do? Where is God calling me to go?” And probably most important of all: “What is God calling me to do with my life?”
I don’t think I have met a sincere, Christ-loving Christian who wants to waste their life. Christians want to live out God’s will for their life, to spend the time allotted to them in a God-honoring way. But this often is easier said then done, especially when you aren’t clear what God wants you to do.
Recently, I have been reading a book called “Grit” by Angela Duckworth . It is a pretty useful book which focuses on the positive effects of perseverance in life. If you are a Christian who reads your Bible consistently, you almost certainly understand and know all that Duckworth says in her book. But there was a “parable” she gave in one of her chapters which helped me think through what “calling” is and how it connects to the Biblical idea of “renewing your mind”.
Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”
The first says, “I am laying bricks.”
The second says, “I am building a church.”
And the third says, “I am building the house of God.”
The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.
- GRIT by Angela Duckworth
What the quote means
Perspective is everything
What I love about this little story is how memorable it is. You have three people doing the exact same job: laying bricks. On the surface, there is absolutely no difference between them. But when asked what they are doing, their answers could not be more different.
The first is focused merely on the task at hand: laying bricks. It simply is a task; there is no higher calling. This is why the first bricklayer merely has a “job”. You have certainly met people like this: they come to work to get a paycheck, that is all. There is no bigger picture or larger goal. There is simply the task at hand, the task they are paid to accomplish.
The second bricklayer has a bit better perspective. Rather than focusing on the task, the second bricklayer focuses on a larger goal: building a Church. This second person is connecting their work to something bigger than the individual task. They are conscious of what their work means and what goal their individual task contributes to. This bricklayer is said to have a “career.”
But it is the final bricklayer that is the most important for our discussion. This last bricklayer connects their work to something larger than their individual task, and larger than the final “product.” Despite the sketchy theology in this parable (see 2 Samuel 7 for what God thinks about David building a house for Him), I think it is a profound illustration of Biblical truth. This last bricklayer connects his or her work to God, to theology, to a their larger worldview.
And it is this bricklayer which is said to have a “calling.”
I would summarize the three bricklayers as follows:
- The first bricklayer is focused on the daily tasks
- The second bricklayer is focused on the end goal of the tasks
- The third bricklayer is focused on why they are pursuing the goal
Why it is important
Don’t try to figure out God’s will for your whole life. Live faithful today.
“Calling” is a tough word to define. A lot of times, when I hear Christians ask what their calling is, what they mean is “I want to know the specifics of God’s will for my life. I want to know for certain what I am to do now and in the future.” But this certainty is not promised in Scripture.
J. I. Packer in his book “Knowing God” contrasts two views of “knowing God’s will.” What you and I often want is to see the whole picture, like if you were to look at a whole map of a subway system. You want to know exactly and with certainty all the different paths God wants you to take. But knowing God’s will is not like looking at a subway map. It is more like driving a car: you can only see and make decisions based on what is immediately ahead of you.
This parable of the three bricklayers builds on this idea. You don’t “find your calling” by figuring out God’s sovereign plan for your life. You live out a calling by connecting what you are doing in the present with your Theology. The last bricklayer has a calling by connecting his daily tasks and the goal of his job to God. God is not going to write out His sovereign will for your life in the sky for you to read. But He does promise to guide your steps as you trust in Him.
How can you live your calling? Remind yourself each day “this is God’s sovereign will for my life.” And then work for His glory, not your own. I think we need to re-define “calling” to “obeying God commands in all He ordained for you to do while staying conscious of how what you are doing connects to God’s larger plan.”