By Ken Costa
Very often when people talk about calling, they try to remove human autonomy from the equation. They imagine that our desires, our concerns, our passions and talents are irrelevant.
But the fact that our loving Father has called us should not negate the freedom we have to make choices.
There is nothing in Christian faith to encourage the resigned acceptance of fate. Que sera, sera— “whatever will be, will be”— might be an old favorite song, but it is not the basis of our callings. Something much more liberating, exciting, and fulfilling lies ahead when we seriously seek the call of God in our lives.
Following God’s call isn’t about blind obedience
It’s more like leaving a house with a friend to go on a journey. You both have a shared destination in mind and a map to get you there, but there are many routes you could take along the way. And so you work out your route in conversation and relationship. Sometimes your friend might suggest very strongly that you both take a certain path. Perhaps she knows something about the way ahead that you don’t. Sometimes you might insist on taking a wrong turn, away from the destination, and have to allow your friend to show you the right direction. But you work it out together. That is what I believe it means to follow your calling with Christ. Your opinions, your passions, your desires really do matter to him.
This is something we see very clearly in the Bible— particularly in the journeys of Paul
The letters of Paul paint a picture of a man who was constantly probing at different doors, trying to work out in dialogue with God where his next steps might go. There’s no sense that his path was laid out clearly before him. Sometimes his attempts to take a certain road were blocked by forces outside of his control, and sometimes he was responding to a very specific message of the Holy Spirit. But very often, Paul simply followed his nose, listening to his own heart while keeping himself open to the promptings of the Spirit of God.
We are not called to be robots
God does not dictate our paths but gives us wide room to maneuver. So often I hear people say that if they make a wrong choice they have missed their call. But often it is not the presenting decision but the purposeful direction that matters. After all, it was God who gave us our unique humanity— who put those passions and talents within us, for us to use.
Crucial to understanding our callings, then, is understanding ourselves. Seeing the passions and desires that God has placed within us— the talents and dreams that await realization in him.
God gives us passions for a reason
He will not call us into something that makes us miserable or that is a waste of our talents. Frederick Buechner, the American theologian, once wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
The fact that we are passionate about something is often a sign that this is where God is calling us to be.
Ken Costa is an internationally renowned banker, having worked as Chairman of UBS Investment Bank. He serves as the Chairman of The Alpha Course. He is the author of God at Work and Know Your Why.