Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

10 Ways to Discover Your Unique Calling

  • Jennifer Slattery JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
  • 2019 25 Feb
10 Ways to Discover Your Unique Calling

We were created to leave an eternal impact—to live for God and His kingdom. But that doesn’t mean Christian ministry must feel burdensome. 

To the contrary. God wants us to receive pleasure and deep fulfillment through our service. In Scripture, Jesus promised His followers two things: joy and an above and beyond, rich and satisfying life (John 10:10). 

We experience both as we align ourselves with His will and do what He created us to do. But how can we discover precisely what that is?

Here are 10 ways we can uncover our unique callings:

Photo courtesy: Unsplash-Vladislav-Babienko

  • 1. We prioritize our relationship with Christ.

    1. We prioritize our relationship with Christ.

    You may have heard it said, we become like that which we worship. The more time we spend with Christ through Bible reading, church attendance, worship, and prayer, the more our thinking and actions begin to naturally mirror His. 

    He transforms us, revealing and purging sin, shifting our priorities, and helping us develop the mind of Christ. Our role is to engage. His role is to mold our affections, thoughts, and perceptions—to stir within us a heartbeat for the things of Him. 

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  • 2. Cultivate a listening ear.

    2. Cultivate a listening ear.

    God rarely speaks in an audible voice, but He does speak. Isaiah 30:21 promises, “Whether [we] turn to the right or to the left, [our] ears will hear a voice behind [us] saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” 

    Jesus made a similar promise in the New Testament, saying His followers would know His voice just as sheep do the voice of their shepherd. This analogy gains depth when we understand ancient sheepherding customs. 

    Each day, as their shepherd cared for them, the flock learned to recognize his voice. At night, they were corralled into a pen shared by numerous others. Imagine the “sorting mess” this potentially created come morning! But all the shepherd needed to do was call out to his sheep. Because they knew his voice—and trusted his heart—they came. 

    In a similar way, through our relationship with Christ, we learn to recognize His voice. Whenever He speaks and we respond in obedience, our spiritual sensitivity grows. 

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  • 3. Pay attention to your season and limitations.

    3. Pay attention to your season and limitations.

    When my daughter was young, though I valued missions and church ministry, I often felt time- and energy-challenged. 

    But that didn’t mean I couldn’t leave an eternal impact. God showed me my most important role during that period was raising my daughter. Therefore, when evaluating opportunities, I needed to ensure I was prioritizing my family. (This is often true for caregivers or those struggling with an illness also.)

    To discover the unique, hope-filled role God has for us today, we’ll need to consider and accept our circumstances. We may have to release some expectations in order to embrace—and enjoy—the life God has for us now. 

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  • 4. Pay attention to your passions.

    4. Pay attention to your passions.

    What gets you riled up, keeps you up at night, and creates an urge within to act? Is it witnessing shattered families? Then perhaps God is calling you to serve in a marriage ministry. Is it seeing the impoverished taken advantage of? Then maybe He’s calling you to advocacy or to help facilitate life skills classes. Does a report on child abuse haunt you long after you turn off the television? Perhaps God wants you involved in foster care or to serve an underequipped and overtired parent. 

    Our emotions are God-created, and as everything God created serves a God-ordained purpose, we can assume God created our feelings with purpose as well. Though our feelings can be deceptive and tainted by sin, I believe they can also be God-led. By prayerfully paying attention to times of “righteous” anger, God alerts us to how we can become part of His solution for an injustice or broken area. 

    We never want to rely on our emotions alone, but we can use them to direct our prayers. When we bring them to God for His direction and filter them through the truth of Scripture, they can provide hints as to how God may want to use us.

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Jonah Cowie

  • 5. Check - and guard - your heart.

    5. Check - and guard - your heart.

    I’ve found, my heart most needs guarding when I least feel like guarding it and I’m most tempted to seek my will and pursue my plans. I can easily convince myself a desired opportunity is not only harmless but also preferable to that which offers less potential payoffs.

    This is especially true involving outlets closely related to my calling, but which I discover, when evaluated honestly, God hasn’t assigned to me. For example, as a writer who receives great enjoyment from anything word related, and who also finds pleasure in shopping and eating out, I can over-emphasize or spiritualize reasons for pursuing the most lucrative opportunities. I can guard against this tendency by doing regular heart checks.

    In Psalm 19:12-14, Scripture provides an excellent prayer guide we can follow to help with this. “But who can discern their own errors?” the psalmist asks. “Forgive my hidden faults. Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your site, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (NIV).

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/LiudmylaSupynska

  • 6. Note what comes naturally.

    6. Note what comes naturally.

    When something is easy for us, we may assume it’s easy for others as well. Because of this, we may miss the calling associated with it. For example, my daughter has a seemingly innate ability to adapt her teaching presentation to students’ particular challenges. This has allowed her to tutor those with learning disabilities or are struggling to understand the concepts they’re learning. 

    She didn’t realize this propensity was indeed a gifting until she encountered those who lacked this particular gift or had been taught by those who did. Similarly, my husband is gifted in leadership and coaching, qualities he readily displays in casual situations. He often asks, when engaged in conversation, “What can you do differently next time?” Statements such as these arise spontaneously and come from his desire to see others grow and succeed. 

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/tiero

  • 7. Serve where you can.

    7. Serve where you can.

    I’ve been involved in kids’ ministry for 20 years and believe this is an important way God wants me to help build my local church and its children. But initially, I served because I saw a need and had a little one in Sunday school. I didn’t give much thought about my unique calling. I simply showed up, did my best, and sought to honor Jesus. 

    As I did, something beautiful happened—passion emerged. I discovered I received great joy from seeing a child’s eyes light up with spiritual understanding and their tender hearts bowed in prayer. Moreover, I began to notice which areas in children’s ministry I enjoyed most—like storytelling (also known as acting goofy). 

    Children’s ministry was also when I first realized how much I truly loved writing as I noticed and sought to fill various needs: for curriculum, outreach material, and parent newsletters. This varied content soon morphed into a deeply fulfilling, long-lasting endeavor.

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  • 8. Pray.

    8. Pray.

    God is a good Father who longs to see us walking in His will and living to our full potential. He wants us to experience joy, peace, purpose, and deep fulfillment, and He’s assumed full responsibility to lead us toward that. An important way He does this is through molding our hearts. As we come to Him in prayer, sharing our desires, fears, and concerns, He meets us and surrounds us in His loving embrace. This usually makes us more receptive to the truths He presents and the commands He gives.

    For example, when I first sensed God’s call to launch and lead Wholly Loved Ministries, a parachurch women’s ministry comprised of authors and speakers, all of my inadequacies, weaknesses, and limitations surged to mind. I felt short on time and ill-prepared for the task. But as I told Him this through prayer, He answered each concern with truth and grace. 

    His infinite wisdom reminds me He’s fully aware of my responsibilities and availability. 

    His sovereignty reminds me He’s bigger than my blunders.

    His love reminds me though His plans for me may be challenging or confusing, they are always good. 

    His presence assures me, whatever I face or take on, He’ll remain by my side.

    His power promises, whenever I surrender to Him, the outcome will be good—exactly as He intended. Even if the results are different or take longer to materialize than anticipated.

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

  • 9. Persevere.

    9. Persevere.

    Just because something feels difficult or uncomfortable initially doesn’t mean God’s not in it or that we shouldn’t do it. Similarly, just because we have a propensity toward something doesn’t mean we’re proficient in that area. Every gift must be developed and every Christ-follower undergoes training. 

    Many times, training is painful. Consider the athlete. Perhaps, having noticed talent and potential, a coach invites her to join the team. Then, once she does, he guides her through intense drills and conditioning designed to bring out her absolute best. God does the same with us. He allows us to experience difficulties that grow our inner grit and ability to endure. Difficult circumstances teach us to lean harder on Him, and doubts and uncertainties can reveal false beliefs He needs to correct with truth.

    Whatever we encounter, if we’re prayerfully seeking to heed His voice and follow His will, we can rest assured our challenges are designed for our growth, His glory, and lead to our calling.

    Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/Jeremy-Perkins

  • 10. Analyze your past for common threads.

    10. Analyze your past for common threads.

    Many times, we confuse our momentary roles, such as teaching Sunday school or leading a biblical finance class, with God’s big picture calling for us. The problem with this is, once our responsibilities shift or an opportunity ends, we can become confused and even disillusioned. When we take a step back, however, and evaluate past endeavors for a common, underlying thread, clarity and peace emerge. This also helps us identify and stay focused on our “why,” and focusing on the why helps prevent discouragement and burnout.

    For example, I’ve held numerous roles involving all ages and many outlets. I’ve taught Bible studies, children’s lessons, coached student athletes, homeschooled, and planned and facilitated events. Initially, these functions appear hugely dissimilar, but when I considered the “why” behind each, a common thread emerged: equipping others become their best. This understanding helps me evaluate which opportunities God may be leading me toward or away from in the future.

    Though our specific roles may change throughout life, God has a fulfilling, eternally significant plan for each one of us, and is, at this moment, leading us toward that which we were created to do. As we seek His will and heart through prayer, contemplation, and practice, we’ll discover our unique calling and how we can find purpose in every moment. 

    Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of eight contemporary novels with her ninth releasing this spring. She also helped write Wholly Loved Ministries Bible study titled Becoming His Princess, based on the life of Sarah from the Old Testament, and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to stay up to date with her future appearances, projects, and releases. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Siri Stafford