Monday, March 16, 2009

Discover Your Calling



Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-27 (Based on Gordon Smith's Courage and Calling and Yoke Yeow's idea with Incredibly Called) Delivered at RipTreat 2009

If you can be a superhero, who would you want to be? Why do you want his or her super powers?

Do you remember the movie The Incredibles? Or Kungfu Panda? Or Ratatouille? The heroes of each story have a deep desire in their hearts to be superheroes, a chef (Remy the Rat) or kungfu master (Po The Panda), they face huge internal and external problems that prevent them for realizing their dreams and we cheer them on when we see how they finally overcome these barriers to be what they were meant to be!

Each and every one of us is given special talents, skills, abilities and a calling from God. Not all of us have the same spiritual gift. Why? It’s supposed to be like a body when we mutually build up and bless each other with the diverse gifts we have been given. Since we cannot be experts in everything, we need each other…

First and foremost, God calls us to Himself, to a personal Father-child relationship with Him. He loves us unconditionally, there is where our self-worth lies. Secondly, He has also equipped us with abilities and called us to fulfil a purpose, mission and destiny in life.

What happens when we don’t exercise our gifts or we don’t know what God has called us to do with our lives? When people don’t discover what God had made them to be, they very often experience these symptoms

Boredom: Mr Incredible is super-strong and loves to fight crime and save people from trouble. But when he was forced to retire by the law, he earns a living filing claims in an insurance company. He’s cramped in a tin can and sneaks out at night to play super hero.

Mischief: Do you remember Dash? Wonder-boy capable of supersonic speeds but to hide his superpowers, he can’t show his true colors in school. So he must pretend to lose races in school to conceal his abilities. In frustration, he expresses his talent by putting thumb tacks teacher's butt. When people can’t express their abilities in positive, productive ways, these gifts can have a dark side.

Inferiority Complex: Violet the shy, insecure girl whose gift of invisibility helps her fade ever more into the background. When you don’t find your call or purpose in life, you may eventually believe you are good for nothing. There is no meaning or rhyme in life… you get overwhelmed with self pity, inferiority and insecurity.

Mismatch of work: I would also like to suggest to you that because many people do not discover the true superpowers, they choose a certain job or study certain subjects because everybody else is doing it, it makes lots of money or due to society expectation or because it is easier road to take. We dun stop and ask:

Is this “who I am”? Is this what God has called me to do?

Disclaimer: If you are in secondary school, this is probably not the time for you to make firm decisions on what you’d be doing for the rest of your life. So don’t go home and tell your parents “I’m not going to school anymore because I wanna go US and be American Idol”. It is a lifelong journey. You won’t find out the entire purpose of your life tonight. At your age, I want to encourage you to try new things, dun limit your ministry experience and continuously learn more about you like/dislike but it’s never too early to start thinking about these things.

What I like about movies like Kungfu Panda, Incredibles or Ratatouille is not so much the silly humor or kick-butt action, what satisfies us most is when they find the joy of finally doing what they were made to do. Like when Remy the rat creates delicious dishes instead of scavenging leftovers or when Po the Panda finally defeats the bad guy by being himself and he finds out that the secret of the dragon scroll is “There is no secret!” we cheer for these heroes.

What are you spiritual gifts? Freely you have received, freely give. A Hero is waiting to be set free in us. Only One Life To Live. Don’t Waste It.

But how do we find out what is God’s will for us? What are our spiritual gifts? Must we hear audible voices from heaven before we know it? Is there a secret spiritual formula to finding God's call? The secret of the dragon scroll is "there is no secret".

It’s not something overly difficult or mysterious. In fact, after this we will do a little survey together to help you find out more about your spiritual gifts. Would you like to find out? (Disclaimer: The purpose is to get you started on discovery not absolute answers because unless you have tried some of these ministry areas, how do you know you don’t like it or good at it? The answers will change as you explore and learn more)

Here are FIVE Questions to help us find our Life Calling

1) What do you feel joy doing? What is my deepest desire or passion?

It doesn’t mean that just because you enjoy playing Counterstrike, you are called to be a gamer. But since God put the body together, you will feel fulfilled (Yes, I feel God’s pleasure when I run, sing, write, play the guitar, serve the weak etc) when functioning in the proper area. There will be a sense of purpose, like jigsaw puzzles that fit. Look out for the sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, pleasure when you exercise a gift/ministry.

2) What are you good at doing? What are my abilities, skills, spiritual gifts, mutant powers?

Run through some of the gifts and talents in the spiritual gift survey. It's not an exhaustive list. Maybe you think “Oh, I’m good at none of these things.” But again: “Belum cuba belum tahu”.

Risks: When people ask you to serve as ushers, “Oh no, because I don’t have that gift”. You begin to avoid evangelism or prayer. And at this time, none of us have enough life experience to really know what gifts you have, Some people would rather die than say, sing in public, but when they are given training and opportunity they may turn out to be gifted singers. So explore new opportunities. Get involved in different church ministries to meet the needs of some real people, expose yourself to the needs around and see if God puts a burden in your heart.

3) What do you feel are the biggest needs of the people around you?

When you look at the world around you, what are the things that make you sad or lose sleep? Are you burdened by the suffering of poor people? Are you burdened to see that people are lost without the gospel? Do you feel angry when there is injustice or cruelty? Of course, all Christians should feel such burdens in some degree. But it’s also true that some people feel more strongly about some areas than others. And it’s okay, dun fight over it and accept that God calls people differently while learn from others. Evangelism (Alpha Course) versus Social Justice? (Angsana) Don’t insist others to be like you.

Have you felt like: “Why isn’t somebody doing something about it?” Maybe you should.

4) What is your unique personality?

God has wired each of us differently, in a unique way like snowflakes. There is no “right” personality. Our individual temperament is unique to us as our fingerprint. John Calvin once said: You cannot know God unless you know yourself. You cannot know yourself unless you know God.

- Extroverts are energized by being with people or enjoy being the center of attention. Introverts tend to be content and energized being alone, and avoid attention when in a crowd. Which is more true to who you are?

- How do you process information? Am I more inclined to trust clear, certain and concrete facts (sensate) or more inclined to trust intuition, gut feeling and imagine possibilities (intuitive)?

- Do you make decisions depending on logic/analysis or personal relationship/feeling? Thinker or feeler?

- Am I more inclined to live with order, structure and routine or do I prefer going through life with more variety, spontaneous changes? Different personality may clash in a meeting. Derive fulfillment from finishing a task or find more joy in the process?

Again, your calling is not determined by one factor. For example: “Unless you are an outgoing extrovert, you cannot be a leader” – too simplistic. There are different leadership styles, a quiet person can lead effectively also.

5) What do others in school, family, circle of friends, church community say about me?

Since spiritual gifts are designed to benefit others (edify each other), you should see positive results as you exercise these gifts. But results take time so don’t give up too quickly, give it a fair try. Sometimes it’s hard to be brutally honest with ourselves – we can be either too hard on ourselves or unable to see our own shortcomings. So we need other brothers and sisters in Christ to help us recognize and confirm our gifting. Cannot ‘syok sendiri!!’ And as a youth group, be on the lookout and encourage those who do well, affirm them to continue using their gifts, be generous in giving honest feedback and constructive suggestions or evaluations.

But you can’t consider this question alone: Sometimes even people who mean well may misunderstand us, may be biased and their feedback cannot be absolute. We need to weigh opinions of others carefully as well. Usually some truth, some exaggerations…

So there you have it: Five Questions to help you discover your calling in life
What do you feel joy doing? What are you good at doing? What do you feel are the biggest needs of the people around you? What is your unique personality?

After doing the survey:
Beware of ‘gliding on our gifts’. Sometimes our relationship with God is not that healthy or our hearts are not right (bear grudges or hatred on others) but we can still do well in our ‘ministry’ because we are gifted in it and nobody notices. Your gift can never replace what goes on inside your heart. “Lord! Lord! Look at what we have done for you” But I never knew you. (Matt 7:21) There are people who are not so gifted but because their character is godly and their relationship with God is close, people are blessed and sense the aroma of Christ in their lives.

Our gift, ability or ministry is not an extension of ourselves. It is not where your source of self-worth. Unless you see this, you’d be driven or scared, too timid or too aggressive.

If we measure our self-worth by our achievements and abilities, we will either burn out (“I must be the best otherwise I’m a failure”) or give up (“What’s the point? I’d never be good enuff”).

But the good news is Christ “loves us more than we ever dare imagine even though we are more sinful than we’d ever know”! How does that change the way you measure how valuable you are and how you use gifts? Humble boldness…

I hope this message gets you to start thinking over the next few days we are together. What is the kind of person God has called me to be? What are the needs around me that I could me in Jesus name? What gifts have he given me to bless others and glorify God?

Remember Spiderman movie: With great powers come great responsibility! Let us pray.

9 comments:

Dizma said...

Thank you Hedonese, well done and really worthy to be considered. God bless.

Mel C said...

dave thanks for posting this in Agora. I like it lots

Johnny said...

Good article!

Hedonese said...

If it's of help, please feel free to share the article around :)

In Chariots of Fire, Harold Abrahams said that he has 10 lonely seconds to justify. He has never known contentment, forever in pursuit and don't even know what he is chasing.

Wat a contrast with Eric Liddell: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure"

Hedonese said...

ops! In Chariots of Fire, Harold Abrahams said that he has 10 lonely seconds to justify his existence. He has never known contentment, forever in pursuit and don't even know what he is chasing.

Wat a contrast with Eric Liddell: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His

cksheng74 said...

Thanks for this great post.
I wish to quote (cut and paste) just these five questions into my blog at

http://cordsofhislove.blogspot.com/2009/03/five-questions-to-help-us-find-our-life.html

I have put a link back to your blog post should the reader wish to read the article in its entirety.

Once again, thanks, Dave. Great post. These five questions help us stir within our minds what is our unique life calling...and one of the reasons why i remain in the university as a lecturer is because it gives me passion in lecturing.

Hedonese said...

Hi Keng Sheng, Feel free to post those questions! I got them from Gordon Smith's book Courage and Calling anyway hehe :)

May the Lord bless your full time ministry in the teaching vocation

iBridger said...

thanks dave. this is relevant to me too, not only for teens

Eu said...

thanks for delivering that great message at RipTreat! Hope you enjoyed the experience of camping with the teens =)