The following is an excerpt from Steven R. Graves’s new study, The Gospel Goes to Work. Order your copy or see a free sample today at Lifeway.com/GospelGoesToWork. You can also pick up a copy at your local Lifeway Store!
One of the most common questions I hear from Christian college students is something similar to “How can I discover God’s will for my life?” This is a great question because it has at its root the idea of calling. It likely assumes a few things. It assumes there’s something God wants me to do—a why. And it assumes that why, when I attach my life to it, is where I can find the most fulfillment and make the greatest Kingdom impact. Scripture tells us:
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Christians can be confident that God has a why—a Kingdom purpose—for our lives. The reality, however, is that most people live their entire work lives with no why other than making enough money to support their families. Regi Campbell said it this way: “The primary objective for most people’s career is to eliminate the need for it.”¹
How motivated are you by a why to wake up each day and engage in your work?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Very little It drives everything.
If you had a difficult time with that, you’re … well, normal. Most people haven’t thought about their callings that clearly. Often the only ones who have are in vocational ministry. But as we saw in week 1, God doesn’t call only clergy. He calls all Christ-followers. Second Corinthians 5:17-20 gives us a clear picture of what our why should be.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counter their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.’ ” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
What’s the mission to which Paul said God has called us?
Renewal and reconciliation constitute the mission God is about in this world. He has invited us to use the way He has uniquely shaped each of us to join Him in that mission. Saddleback Church in California teaches its members to think through their callings by using the acronym SHAPE.²
Record your thoughts beside each of the following questions.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS: What gifts has God given you? (A ministry-gifts inventory is available here.)
HEART: What are you passionate about?
ABILITIES: What are you good at?
PERSONALITY: What’s your personality type? (Christian personality assessments are available online.)
EXPERIENCE: What major experiences, good or bad, have shaped you?
To be called is to be released to be exactly who you’re supposed to be and to do precisely what you’re supposed to do for God. When you figure out your SHAPE, you’ll be well on your way to being clear about your calling. What more compelling reason to get up when the alarm sounds each morning than to know that God has assigned your work and that He cares about its quality?
1. Regi Campbell, About My Father’s Business: Taking Your Faith to Work (Colorado Springs: Mutlnomah, 2005), 19.
2. Rick Warren. The Purpose-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 236.
Excerpted from Dr. Stephen R. Graves, The Gospel Goes to Work Bible Study. © 2017 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.