On Call

The following is a blog post by a dear friend, Mark Boughner. Mark is leader of one of the Band of Brother’s men’s groups I attend at New Life. He is a member of the Panera Men’s Group which I facilitate. And, as the lead-in to this repost of a repost reports, he also ministers in several other capacities at New Life. He is well qualified to comment on being “On Call.”  Oh, one other thing — Mark plays a mean guitar. RMF

A Jack of all Trades

Mark Boughner

Mark Boughner

Here is the repost as it appeared in the New Life Christian Church newsletter:

Mark Boughner is a true jack of all trades at New Life. His blog, Life in Khaos, features a variety of posts from the humorous to the serious. Many are his interpretations of musical pieces that speak to him and his life. This past week he blogged about calling. How do we approach God’s specific will for us and our lives? Does He have a specific job for me? What about a specific place for me to serve? As Mark wrestled with this on his blog, I thought it would be great for us to share it with all of you. Enjoy.

March 1, 2013 by khaos

‘It is the first of all problems for a man to find out what kind of work he is to do in the universe.”-Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher (1795-1881)

We’ve been having some recent discussions in a study group re: ‘calling.’

[Brett] provided some scriptures (OT and NT) to prompt the discussion as well as a review of the life of Alexander Campbell as written about in ‘Fool of God’ by Louis Cochran.

OT passages:
Genesis 12:1-4; 15:5; 18;22:17;Exodus 3:4-22;Exodus 31:1-11;1 Samuel 3;Isaiah 6:1-13;

NT passages:
Galatians 1:1;Ephesians 1:18; 4:1-2;1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 3:1;Hebrews 9:15; 2 Peter 1:10

As these discussions on ‘calling’ generally go, some questions came about:
Is calling to be viewed as occupational? Is calling specific to ministry? Does one’s calling change over the course of a lifetime? Can one have multiple callings? Who calls? Whom is called?

Here are a couple of my personal observations (opinions):

– Occupation doesn’t necessarily equal one’s calling, but it can support a calling (financially, experience, skills, relationships).
– Some folks seem to get a very clear indication on path/direction. Others seem to begin down a certain path because, well, it’s the best option at the time.
– Calling seems to have more to do with a willingness to respond rather than a complete confidence in a lifelong decision/direction.

My personal experience:

If you asked me whether I am doing what I am called to do, my response would be, ‘yes and no.’
From a profession point of view, I don’t believe I was ‘called’ to do what I am doing.
My decision for going into the computer and information systems field was probably more calculated based on financial success and provision.
I wouldn’t say that I was ‘made for’ my occupation or when I’m sitting in front of a computer screen typing on a keyboard I feel God’s pleasure (‘Chariots of Fire’ reference…)
At the same time, I have asked God to equip me and grant me grace in my work, especially when I don’t know what I’m doing.

It may sound strange, but I’ve always viewed myself as a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ when it comes to God’s calling.
I’ve led Bible studies, acted as a care giver, short-term missionary, worship leader, servant, prayer warrior, etc…
Rather than taking a laser guided approach to ‘calling,’ I’ve basically taken on the philosophy of ‘see a need, fill a need.’

I don’t view that as being a ‘yes man’ to every ‘ask’ that comes in my email inbox from a church request, however.
My life verse has become Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”; when a need arises, I view the response through that lens.

It’s in this regard where I view calling as more of a lifestyle vs a duty.
I think Oswald Chambers puts it well from a Feb 28 devotion (My Utmost for His Highest):

“…Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return….”

“…We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them….”

“…If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation…”

“…When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others…”

Bottom line here is that my motivation should not be personal, but ‘others’ driven with a focus on a greater reward.
If it’s anything other than that, I’m essentially competing with Jesus and I will not win that stand off.

My resulting actions:

– Keep showing up
– “Do the best with what I have, wherever I am.”
– Continue to walk in faith with an eternal perspective
– Continue to respond in areas where other’s burdens can be acknowledged and cared for.

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About ronfurg

Former naval officer, federal investigator, forensic scientist, senior executive service member and pastor. In retirement serves as volunteer and life group leader at New Life Christian Church (www.newlife4me.com). Devoted to beautiful wife, kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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