Christian Living Church Leadership

The Power of Calling

Yesterday, I spent some time thinking about the calling of Abraham and Moses. (Genesis 15; Exodus 3) I was comparing the discomfort those men went through as a result of their calling to a community and the relative ease with which I question my calling to the community I live in and the work God has clearly called me to do at YS.

Why am I so quick to question while they spent decades grinding out their calling?

I’m glad I spent time with Moses and Abraham yesterday. I somehow associate “being called” with “being easy.” It reminded me that being called somewhere brings great pleasure, but also involves sticking it out through times of doubt, turmoil, angst, and pressure.

A few week’s ago I ruffled some feathers with a post called, Youth Workers: Don’t Punk Out. I’ve known too many people called to a task but have given up for a different task. They will wrestle with the guilt the rest of their lives. They will work out justifications that make it sound like they weren’t “running to Ninevah” but in their hearts they know they are just trying to save face when they need to repent.

God may bless them in other capacities but the guilt of their mistake will always haunt them.

When I think of Moses and Abraham I think about their contemporaries. Certainly, God called other men and women living at the same time to do things. But their stories didn’t get recorded in history. Why? Did they cower? Did they hide from their calling? Certainly, they didn’t outshine Moses or Abraham.

The thing about being called to a task in life is that you know you are called. Hence the phrase calling. Calling implies that their was an invitation and a RSVP to that invitation. It was sent and it was received. You know you’ve been called because you answered the phone! God asked you if you’d do it and you willingly (and maybe with much trembling) said “Yes, Lord I hear you. I will do that.

You will know you have been called when the power of the calling exhibits itself

  • Calling haunts you.
  • Calling wakes you up early in the morning and lays your head down late at night; it provides more energy than sleep.
  • Calling and vocation are two different things. Calling isn’t about a paycheck its about the reward.
  • Calling applies in every context you find yourself in. You can fulfill your calling living next door to your mommy, and you can fulfill your calling living in a third world country.
  • Calling and longsuffering are kissing cousins.
  • Calling can release you; it can spit you up; it can drive you to madness; but it is unchanging and seeming unchangeable.
  • Calling is affirmed by people in your life and by results measured in Kingdom impact.
  • Calling is about short-term suffering and long-term rewards. Abraham’s descendants are numerous beyond belief. Moses faithfulness to God was only surpassed by Jesus.
  • Calling looks like foolishness to some.
  • Calling isn’t something soft. If you’ve been called you know it. You might not be able to articulate how you were called but if you were called you would know it.
  • There is general calling, we are all called to love God and love others. And there is specific calling.
  • Calling releases energy, resources, and results that defy the laws of economics and physics.
youth ministry

Youth Workers: Don’t Punk Out

Youth ministry seems to be facing asymmetrical challenges right now.

Two of them on the forefront of my mind are longevity and transference of wisdom.

With a tough job market and a climate of deconstruction/re-thinking/shifting in the profession… it really pains me to see a lot of very gifted youth workers move on.

Some of them are my friends. And I put on a happy face to try to be happy for you when you send me an email telling me of your bright new idea. But I’m really sad when I see our dreams for one another give way to something else. For a myriad of reasons our sophmoric desire to be in youth ministry for a lifetime has given way to leaving ministry altogether or becoming a church planter or taking a “higher” staff position at a church as executive/lead/teaching pastor.

If I read those reasons right, most of them seem to imply– more stable, more money, more powerful positions.

Let our 20-year old self talk to our 34-year old self for a second… “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!??!!”

Those are all things we swore we wouldn’t give our dreams to. But, if I can use passive/politically correct language for a minute, life seems to be forcing some of us to sell out.

I just want to toss this out there. Maybe there are others who are sitting on the fence and looking at greener pastures.

  • Don’t punk out.
  • Working with teenagers is as important now as ever.
  • Fight the temptation to take an easier way out of your problems.
  • You’ve always said youth ministry wasn’t a stepping stone.
  • The grass won’t be greener as a church planter or a lead pastor, you know it and I know it.

We know this to be true: As cultural spins faster and faster the brightest minds and the greatest innovations are now will continue to flow from youth workers just trying to figure out how to best minister to kids in their neighborhoods. The best ministry innovations are not now nor have ever flowed from the top down. It’s always the other way around. The best innovators typically don’t have the biggest platforms nor do they typically have agents.


Intrinsic hunger forces innovation. The best ideas come when you have no other choice but to innovate.

Sure– I know someone is going to light me up for saying it. After all, who am I to question decisions that aren’t mine? And all the other voices in my friends heads telling them they need to go plant a church, be a teaching pastor, or chase another vocation must be right and I must be wrong.

But I’m allowing myself to be sad. And I’m allowing myself to put it in writing that you don’t have to punk out. Adversity, frustration, questioning, tension, getting fired, having to adapt, making less money, and being discouraged aren’t now and never have been “God closing doors.

Sometimes those things are merely a testing of calling and God rewards you for passing the test.

Sure, the world needs more senior pastors. Sure the world needs more church planters. Sure the world needs more whatever-it-is-that-is-taking-you-from-youth-ministry.

But those kids. (The kid that was you. That kid was me.) That kid will always need a youth worker there at just the right moment to say just the right thing.