one striving for God's reign to come to earth, bringing his peace, wholeness, completeness, and health to all aspects of life.

Thoughts on our primary calling

Today I started a book by Os Guinness called The Call: Finding and Fulfilling The Central Purpose of Your Life.  It's pretty good, and I wanted to share a piece of it that really struck me.  He spends some time describing what the meaning of calling really is, and describes the two types of calling as primary calling (our general calling to follow after and serve and love God) and secondary calling (however specifically God calls us to live out our primary calling, often what we do for a living).

In the midst of this discussion, he brings up the struggle many of us face, the temptation to replace our primary calling with our secondary calling.  We begin to base our relationship with God on what we do for him, and there is nothing else to our "relationship" other than works.  Guinness states:

"We must restore the primary calling to its primary place by restoring the worship that is its setting and the dedication to Jesus that is its heart.  There is no surer guide here than the devotional writer Oswald Chambers.  'Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ,' he wrote.  'The greatest competitor to devotion to Jesus is service for Him...'  Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center?  Do we put our emphasis on service or usefulness, or being productive in working for God--at his expense?" (41).

I love these thoughts, and have found myself answering yes to those questions more often than I want to admit.  So often I have found that I equate my relationship with God with my job when it is a "Christian" job like pastoring, or I equate my relationship with what I do for him on a daily basis (the way I love people, do work for him, etc.).  But the work we do for God is meaningless if it does not flow out of our primary calling, loving and relating with Christ.  Through that relationship he leads us and shows us what to do for him, so this also keeps us from spinning our wheels and doing things for Him he never wanted us to do.

Anyway, this was challenging to me and I wanted to share it.  It reminds me of the last chapter I read in Francis Chan's Crazy Love, a chapter called "When You're In Love."  This chapter talks about how our relationship with Christ should not be a chore, or something we do out of fear or guilt or obligation, but something that we long for and are passionate about.  One of my favorite quotes from the chapter says:
"When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love.  You'll drive for hours to be together, even if it's only for a short while.  You don't mind staying up late to talk.  Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying.  You'll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you're crazy about.  When you are apart from each other, it's painful, even miserable.  He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together" (100).  He goes on to relate this to our relationship with Christ, calling us to honesty in this relationship.  If he is not our deepest longing, he already knows!  We ought to express this to him and ask him to help us love him more and desire him more.  Chan closes with a beautiful prayer that I will close with too--may this be an encouragement to you to find again your primary calling, the main thing God wants from you:

"Jesus, I need to give myself up.  I am not strong enough to love you and walk with you on my own.  I can't do it, and I need you.  I need you deeply and desperately.  I believe you are worth it, that you are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next.  I want you.  And when I don't, I want to want you.  Be all in me.  Take all of me.  Have your way with me" (111).



Jim Fowler February 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM  

Hey Kevin, you are reading some good stuff, and obviously doing some deep pondering. Keep it up! Uncle Jim.

Kevin Bobrow February 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

Thanks and thanks for checking out the blog! I hope you all are doing great!

Anonymous February 9, 2010 at 10:19 AM  

You should check out Os Guiness' book "A Case for Civility" good read!

Ethan Magness February 9, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

Okay, now you are in trouble. If you had paid attention in Sunday School class ten years ago you would have remembered that exact quote. Your only grace is that perhaps you were teaching a high school class for me on that morning. Otherwise you are in trouble.

Just kidding. I love his distinction between primary and secondary call. It is especially nice to know that even if I never get a secondary call, I can stay plenty busy with my primary call for my whole life.


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