Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vocational Sweet Spot

At Petco Park, San Diego, CA. I love these people.

As last week's missions experience came to a close, I was driving home with my wife along the Loop 202, processing aloud how the week had gone. I had seen students' lives transformed, watched God move in real and profound ways, stirring up a vigor in my own soul. In an affecting and Spirit-driven moment, I heard the words come out of my mouth:

"I'm exactly where I want to be and where God wants me to be." 

Not just where I need to be or have to be. I genuinely love where I'm at. I love the students, love my volunteer team, love my fellow pastors, love my community. I couldn't have said that a few years ago, and I don't know too many people who can authentically make that claim. I'm in a vocational sweet spot. That sweet spot has a number of intersecting domains, all of which need to be present to truly be sweet.

Gifts. God has given me a number of gifts and talents--spiritual and otherwise--and I have the freedom to use them to their fullest in my ministry. Your gifts might be in the Biblical lists--pastor/teacher, mercy, exhortation, leadership, etc.--or something different, but just as spiritual--music, humor, approachability, ridiculously good at math, etc. Of course, one must discover one's gifts before you can fully use them. Thankfully, it's quite the enjoyable discovery process; finding out who God created you to be and the gifts He's given you is both spiritually fulfilling and emotionally invigorating.

Passions. Different than gifts, passions are the things that ignite a fire in your soul. They fuel your energy throughout the day and keep you up thinking late into the night. Your passion might be a place, a people group, a justice issue, or an activity. Again, these could be Biblical--prayer, studying Scripture, serving the poor--or more like a hobby--movies, playing the drums, gardening--but all are spiritual if they're God-given.

Calling. This is the God-speaking-to-me type of calling, like God prompting Abram to go to a land He will show him, or telling Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, or stopping Paul on the Damascus road. It's not always a burning bush-type moment, but it is clear and memorable and sure. It's feeling like God has spoken beyond just emotion; it is being holistically led by the Spirit. I recognized my calling in life back near the end of high school through a conversation I had with my youth pastor where he spoke prophetic words of truth that struck my soul. I've been pursuing it ever since, and it's made all the difference.

Values. Values sort of encompass the other three, permeating all of them as the reality in which they exist. Both personal and professional values are deeply important to have; they give an environment and a paradigm in which the other three domains can thrive. If I have the other three present, but none of it matches my values, then it will still lead to frustration. It takes a lot of intentionality, prayer, and discernment to realize and choose one's values, but it's a process worth undertaking.

Without gifts, I'm passionate but useless. Without passions, I'm uninspired to action. Without calling, I'm operating outside of God's will for me. Without values, I honestly don't know myself or what God desires for me. With all present, I'm in the sweet spot God has for me today.

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