Do you ever feel guilty about pursuing a dream God has placed upon your heart?
I’ve heard women, in particular, say things like “Who am I to have a dream?” or “Shouldn’t I be content with my life? Why does there have to be something more like a dream or a calling?”
I wouldn’t say it’s being selfish to pursue a calling that God has placed on your heart. I would say it’s being obedient. If a calling is truly from God, to not pursue it is to not believe He will equip you to where He has called you.
Although God calls each of us to faith, obedience, and to share the Gospel with others and make disciples of new believers, I strongly believe God also has a specific calling for each of us, as well. And that calling – or dream – is as unique to us as our fingerprints. It’s woven onto the fabric of our hearts. And I believe God has dreamed of the day we would each discover that dream and calling He’s placed on our lives so we can live it out for His glory.
Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (NASB). The word “workmanship” in that verse (the New Living Translation uses the word “masterpiece”) comes from the Greek word, “poiema” where we get our English word “poem.” So, a more literal interpretation of the first part of that verse would be “We are God’s poem” – His unique expression of Who He is and the great things He can do. So, when you are living out the calling He has placed on your heart, you are showing the world Who He is and what He can do through you.
One of the reasons we can feel guilty or selfish about pursuing a dream is because we can confuse God’s calling on our life with our own personal desires and ambitions. While the pursuit of our ambitions can result in the neglect of our loved ones and compromise of our values and convictions, the pursuit of God’s calling on our lives will never require disobedience or compromise. Nor will God’s calling require you to “go out on your own” and act independently of Him. God always calls us to a greater dependence on Him so that we realize we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5).
So how can you be sure a calling is from God in order to pursue it guilt-free?
1. Your calling is something that glorifies God, not you.
Most of us have ambitions or goals of what we’d like to accomplish, but is the motivation for self glorification or that God be exalted? I talk with many people who dream of publishing a book for the notoriety, the “extra income” (both of which rarely result from publishing a book, by the way), and even “a sense of accomplishment.” But a calling from God is always beyond ourselves. It’s not motivated in our own ambitions or what we want to accomplish, personally. It’s about the One who is whispering to us what is important to Him. And it’s about responding to the One who has given us certain abilities and is waiting to bless us and others through our surrender of those abilities for His renown, not ours. The “fruit” and end result of God’s calling on our lives is that He is glorified, even if we suffer.
2. Your calling is something God controls, not you.
I’ve also heard from many people who are frustrated with their inability to “achieve the dream” or “pursue the calling.” But where God guides, He provides. He often calls us to something that is beyond us so that we have to depend on Him in order to accomplish it. If you are striving to achieve your dream at what seems like all costs, then perhaps it is your dream you are chasing and not God’s dream for you. When God calls you to something, He leads and you follow. Let Him open the doors rather than trying to push through them, yourself.
3. Your calling isn’t always the fun thing, but it’s the right thing.
When we follow Christ, we aren't promised continual blue skies and unlimited happiness. To the contrary, Jesus said following Him involves denying ourselves and picking up our cross. That means we will suffer at times. You and I offer refer to our “passion” when we talk about a calling. And yet the true definition of passion is “a willingness to suffer.” It means we will experience situations that cause us to depend on Him all the more. But there is a deep joy that comes from the peace and satisfaction of knowing we are in God's will.
4. Your calling is something you must do in order to experience peace. I know many men who are pastors today but never sought that position. They never said from the time they were young “I want to grow up and be a pastor.” In fact, like Jonah, many of them initially ran from the assignment until, like Isaiah, they were finally able to say “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). When God is the One calling you to a task there is no choice of a “yes” or “no” on your part. There is only the question “when” – when will you surrender and when will He determine that you are ready for the assignment? I often tell others God’s calling on your life is something you must do whether you are paid to do it or not. You must do it if you are to experience peace. You must do it in order to be obedient.
If God called us to live safe, manageable lives, then we wouldn't really need Him, apart from saving our souls and letting us sit it out until we are called home to heaven. Yet God wants to do through you what is beyond you. He wants to receive glory from how you live your life from day to day, exhibiting the life of Christ through your mortal body.
Listen for His call, obey His voice, ask Him how you can glorify Him, and then step out in faith. A great adventure of living out His call on your life awaits. Pursue that calling – guilt-free.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), When a Woman Discovers Her Dream, and When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts. For more encouragement and inspiration in the area of your calling or for free resources to strengthen your personal walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com
Publication date: October 29, 2015
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and with each other. She and her husband, Hugh, have been married 32 years and co-authored the book, When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Cindi has also Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, upon which this article is based. For more on her speaking, or resources to help strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.