Following Your Calling
By Janelle John-Bates
The year 2021 was a challenging year for many and certainly left its mark on my life. I exited the year harried but resolved to reduce the demands on my time and energy. As I took steps to manage external stressors I came to realise that some of the disquiet I felt was not caused by other people or situations.
I was embroiled in a mental battle, the root of which I could not immediately identify. It was not until I viewed a facebook video about a singer who stayed true to her authentic self while pursuing her dreams that it clicked. It occurred to me that the times in my life when I pursued my God-given talents or heeded His call, I enjoyed a better quality of life.
When I undertook activities that were in alignment with God’s calling on my life, the trials and testing seemed less daunting.
Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation (John 16:33) but some of the storms that we endure can be avoided if we heed God’s call on our life. The story of Jonah is a classic example of this. Jonah was directed to go to Nineveh and preach against it because of the wickedness of the inhabitants. Instead, he chose to flee from God by boarding a boat to Tarshish. In response, the Lord sent a violent storm that threatened to split the boat. Running away from what God is calling us to do may not result in a literal tempest. However, we can be beset by other external upheavals or emotional distress when we try to force our life to fit our myopic vision or talk ourselves out of pursuing what God has indicated that we should do.
Our decision to ignore our calling may also negatively impact those around us. There were other passengers aboard the boat caught in the storm that raged due to Jonah’s actions. Similarly, when we experience our personal storms, we can be consumed by waves of anger, bitterness, listlessness, despair and hopelessness which may cause us to strike out at others. We may also engage in destructive behaviours to avoid these negative feelings which eventually begin to impact our close relationships.
Our choice to live a life that is not in tune with God’s plan may not always produce negative ramifications that are obvious to us. However, our choices may change the course of entire communities due to our interconnectedness. We were all created with unique skills, natural talents and purposes that are not only given for our benefit but for the benefit of others. The Bible tells us in Romans 12: 4-8 (NKJV) that:
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Though the Apostle Paul was speaking about serving God with spiritual gifts, the substance of the exhortation can also apply in a secular context. Tyler Perry for example felt lead to write plays. However, due to his initial abysmal failure, his own mother suggested that he pursue another course. If Tyler had adhered to the well-meaning though misguided advice, hundreds of minorities would not have their jobs in television and movie production today. When we avoid where the Spirit is leading us or ignore our distinctive capabilities we are contributing to a weakened home, workplace, and society, as a whole.
Most significantly, pursuing what God has laid on our heart brings glory and gratification to God. Obeying God will always bring honour to Him. Furthermore, our calling is oftentimes tied to our skills and natural abilities. When we use our gifts, much like the servant who invested his talents (money) in the parable of talents, God is pleased.
Pursuing your calling may seem daunting at first. You may not understand the entire plan for your life or how you can achieve what He has laid on your heart. However, if it is His will, he will provide the material, the people, the finances and every support needed. Have faith! Take the first step!
By Janelle John-Bates
Janelle is the product of a home where developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and cultivating God-given talents and abilities were paramount. Consequently, her life has been one of service to others professionally as an Attorney at Law and most recently as the founding partner of JohnBatesLaw, and through membership or participation in a variety of non-profit organizations. In her downtime, Janelle enjoys spending time with her family and puppy, writing and outdoor activities, including long-distance running.