In his excellent book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling The Central Purpose of Your Life, Os Guinness makes the following statement:
“As followers of Christ we are called to be before we are called to do and our calling both to be and do is fulfilled only in being called to him. So calling should not only precede career but outlast it too. Vocations never end, even when occupations do. We may retire from our jobs but never from our calling. We may at times be unemployed but no one ever becomes uncalled.” p. 230
I just read the above quote for the first time a few minutes ago but I know that I am going to spend a fair amount of time in the next week meditating on it. At its very core my calling is to a life in Christ. Everything else grows out of that. If that is true, then as Guinness says, I will never become uncalled.
There are many examples throughout the Bible in which individuals are called into specific avenues of service. Abraham was called to leave Ur of the Chaldees and to become the Father of the Jewish nation. Moses was called to leave his quiet life as a shepherd and to lead his people out of Egypt. David was called to become king of Israel. Isaiah was called, in rather spectacular fashion, to become a prophet. Paul was called on the way to Damascus to become God’s messenger to the Gentiles. The Apostles were called to become Jesus’ disciples and after their time of training was completed to become the foundation upon which he built his church.
God still calls people into specific areas of service but those are always secondary calls. The primary call for all of us is a call into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is that call into relationship which every Christian shares. Everything else grows out of that call.
There is nothing sadder than a person going through the motions of being a Christian without any of the passion that should always accompany their faith. They attend church. They might even serve in some capacity. They read their Bibles and spend time in prayer. In short they do the things that they believe should define what it means to be a Christian.
They just don’t have the passion. They don’t get up in the morning with the excitement that should accompany people who have been called into relationship with the eternal Son of God, the Saviour of the world. That call is just another part of their lives instead of being what gives every moment of every day meaning.
The challenge facing all of us who are leaders in churches of any size is how to put that passion back into our people’s lives. I once heard a speaker say that with thousands of passionless Christians there was almost nothing significant that any church could accomplish but with a handful of people who were inspired by the call of Jesus on their lives, they could turn the world upside down.
The value of God stories
I had a friend in one of the churches in which I served whom I loved to be around. She was one of the most passion-filled Christians that I have ever known. She would inspire me with her love for and commitment to Jesus.
She was constantly talking to me about what God had done in her life that week. Her God-stories, as she called them, were accounts of what God had done for her in the common living out of her life.
God-stories inspire. They motivate. They bring the reality of God’s activities into our lives.
I love to hear how God is working in the lives of other people. Those stories assure me that God is alive and at work in the lives of the people whom I serve. I am always on the lookout as I visit with people for stories that can then in turn be shared with other people.
When I feel like life is getting mundane I refer back to the God-stories in my own life. There are many of them and they remind me that God has worked in the past and is waiting to work in my future.
God-stories in the small church
There can be value in sharing these stories in any context but I think that this is especially true in the small church. People in large churches can get the feeling that God is at work just because the church is growing. People in small churches don’t have that luxury. They need to hear the stories. They need to be reassured that God is at work in them and through them. God-stories can do this.
I have had an exciting couple of weeks in my church. New Dundee Baptist Church isn’t very big. In fact it is on the lower side of small but God is working through the people there and I am excited that he is. One of our seniors is currently on a mission trip to Sierra Leone where she served when she was just a young teacher. As this trip shows she is now a senior but just as desirous to be used to impact people.
A young women in her twenties just finished leading a camp retreat weekend designed to impact the group of teenagers in attendance. What could be greater than impacting a group of teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them to serve Jesus?
One of the women in the church just completed a course on holding vigils with people who are dying. She spent Friday evening with a person bringing comfort and presence to the person and her family.
A family in the church reached out in kindness to someone in the community and the story got back to me. They would not want their names used because they didn’t do it for their own glory but to bring the love of Jesus into their relationship.
I shared all of these stories with my church family because as small as we are, we are still making an impact. My goal is to ignite a passion in my people that comes out of knowing that God is working in them and through them every day of their lives. God-stories help make that happen.