Last week, we spoke about hearing the call of God in your life and the many ways that He can make His voice available to you. Unfortunately, not everything that you hear will be the voice of God, but most of you already knew that. Let’s say that you have been praying for God’s direction and you think you have an answer. Now, the most important thing for you to do is to make sure that what you are hearing is God’s voice, and not the voice of the world or your own human desires. This is one of the ways that discernment is practiced within the Christian faith. You must take a good hard look at the source of the information, the nature of the guidance, and what the results would be if you were to go in this particular direction. While it is not exactly what John is talking about in 1 John 4, I see a strong connection between testing the spirits and discernment. This leads us to our first step.
Is the direction you are considering consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Just like the spirits, if the calling is not consistent with the advancement of the Gospel, it cannot be from God. Not all callings have the same output, though, so we must be careful not to base this part of the discernment process on some sort of human need for quantifiable impact. You may be called to the pastorate, to social work, or to manufacturing. Just as Paul and Apollos had different roles in the early church, each of you is called to a different role in God’s kingdom. You may be a planter, waterer, tender, or harvester. What matters is that God knows you and has designed you in a certain way. He will employ you to advance the kingdom in your calling, regardless of where that calling has you working.
Next, we must consider whether the calling is beneficial to the body of Christ, those who are around you and actively pursuing a deepening faith. 1 Corinthians 12:7 tells us that manifestations of the Holy Spirit are given for the common good. The benefit may be that your calling complements what they are doing. It may be that it directly increases their own ability to draw nearer to Christ, or that removes an obstacle from their faith journey. As members of the body of Christ, our respective callings are basically helping us to know which body part we are. As we discern God’s calling in our individual lives, we need to trust that it will line up with service to the body of Christ.
Finally, is the calling consistent with who God has groomed you to be? This does not mean that God will not send you somewhere outside of your comfort zone. That is definitely a possibility. What it does mean is that He has known all along where you fit into the kingdom. If you have been following God for very long, I am sure that He has been working on you. There have been tests, convictions, or nudges taking you in one direction or another. I do not believe that God will orchestrate your path with a ton of hairpin turns. Rather, if you trust in Him, He will make your paths straight. If you have not been following God, then the calling may be a completely new path for you, but it will be in line with God’s preparation of your heart. He is not trying to confuse any of us, even though we do end up confused from time to time.
A big step in finalizing the discernment process is affirming the call, which we will discuss next week.
If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Always Seeking Clarity,