I was 19 years old when I realized spoken word poetry was my calling. I stepped up to a microphone at a conference in Pittsburgh, knees shaking, and spoke words I had poured out on paper months prior. It was exhilarating. It was one of those few moments when you just know God is going to use you to reach people for Christ. In that moment – my Divine purpose on this earth was revealed.
Fast forward a few months. I found myself doubting and unbelievably distraught because I felt as if I had misheard God. I had found myself in the biggest creative slump of my life. I couldn’t write a single word let alone given an opportunity to share my words. If I was honest, I was no longer using my gift to praise God; I was using it to receive notoriety and adoration. I had lost sight of the gift, and I took God’s silence as God taking the gift away.
Callings are a beautiful thing. They are the very method God uses in His children to reach the broken world. They are by nature a demonstration of God’s grace; that the Creator of the Universe would choose to bless humankind with a talent in which they will show others the good news of Jesus. Some spend most of their life just trying to figure out by what gifting they will use to change the world and some are blessed to know that calling. But like I did, some lose sight of the purpose of the calling.
You are not your gifting. Your value does not come from what you do but rather by whose you are.
Far too often we find ourselves equating our gift with our worth – if we aren’t impressing thousands with our gift then we feel we aren’t really doing much of anything. I had it in my mind that because God wasn’t giving me words anymore, He had taken away the gift for good and gave it to another faithful believer. But this is so far from the truth. Romans 11:29 says “for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” God’s isn’t a liar. He doesn’t just give us a gift and snatch it away. I do believe that God will put our gift “on pause” for a time when we get prideful and think our talent comes from us. I believe God wants to constantly remind us that it is a gift from Him, not a fruit of our own labor. But even in the times our gifts are seemingly “frozen” they are still there. God still desires to use us despite us, but He does it in His perfect timing. Even though we may wholeheartedly believe that God is faithful to use us, frustration in the waiting may still exist.
What do you do when you feel like your calling is a million miles away?
- Be patient. You can’t expect your gift to reach its full potential overnight. Forcing progress will only produce fruit that are premature, shoddy, and frankly… bitter. Wait on God to give you opportunities and I promise you that He will open the door when you least expect Him to.
- Be willing to learn. The best test of your pride is this: do you get annoyed when others with your same gifting experience success? Ouch, that hurts. Your gifting is not the same as your calling. Just because someone is gifted in the same way you are, it does not mean they have the same calling as you. Only you have the capacity to influence your specific community during this specific time with your specific gift. Instead of becoming jealous of others, humble yourself and realize you have something to learn from those who have tirelessly labored in your shared craft.
- Stop comparing yourself. You will burn out in no time if you constantly measure your progress with someone else’s. It can take years to be given an opportunity or a platform; may we never envy others who have been blessed with one when we haven’t. Look at it this way: Jesus didn’t begin His public ministry until He was 30 years old. Now that is Man who was fully confident in God’s eternal purpose and timing.
- Stir up the gift. 2 Timothy 1:6 says: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…” In the Greek, to “stir up” means to rekindle the fire. Even if you feel like all you have are embers, rekindle the coals of your gifting. Tend your gift like a newly budded plant. Sow time and energy into it and watch it mature and blossom.
- Remember – it isn’t about you. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:11-12. Our gift exists to build up and encourage the Church. Your gift was given to you so you could show others who Jesus is. Never believe the lie that your gift exists to get you famous or earn you praise. May your gift always point to the Gracious Gift-Giver.
God is so faithful to use us when we allow Him to. He will use our gifts and talents to bring Him glory and demonstrate the love of Jesus to so many people around us. You don’t need a huge platform or following to affect the Kingdom of God; you need only a willing heart that is in full surrender to God’s will. Even if your calling seems far far away, it is right in the palm of your hand. Use your paintings, your sermons, your poetry, your songs, your gift to demonstrate to the world how God has so dearly loved us.