How does calling secure margin? The notion of calling is more profound, and its influence more subtle, than we may realize. Though we may tend to think it is discovered through a blinding light or in an other-worldly experience, the pattern seems to be the opposite. Douglas Schuurman states,
“Many assume that ‘hearing’ God’s call is an extraordinary, miraculous event, and so fail to discern God’s calling in their lives. The vast majority of my Christian students are perplexed when I suggest that their work as students, relationships with friends and family, and extracurricular activities are among their callings. They never heard God speaking from a burning bush, or from the heavenly courtroom, resonant with echoes of cherubim. . . God does sometimes call in such extraordinary ways, but for the vast majority of Christians God’s callings are discerned quietly, when the heart of faith joins opportunities and gifts with the needs of others.” (Schuurman, Vocation, 3-4).
f we view our “ministry calling” as somehow “higher” than the other callings in our lives, we may easily begin to devalue family, physical exercise, nutrition, thought life, rich relationships, and even our own emotions. We begin to misrepresent the Christian faith. Various ways of dividing “callings” into higher and lower have appeared throughout church history. Os Guinness explain that the “Catholic Distortion” of calling began in the 300s with Eusibius, a bishop who argued that Christ gave “two ways of life” to his church. The “perfect life” was dedicated to contemplation and reserved for priests, monks, and nuns; the “permitted life” was secular, dedicated to action and often led to such tasks as farming, soldering, governing, etc. This “split” between the sacred and secular continued through the medieval church, with only a few notable exceptions (See Guinness, The Call, 31-36).
Guinness then traces the development of the “Protestant Distortion”, concluding that this form of dualism is possibly even more problematic than the previous. It elevates the secular at the expense of the spiritual, thus severing the secular from the spiritual and reducing “calling” to an alternate word for work. Secondary callings (our “jobs”) became detached from and even elevated over one’s primary calling (to know God). Work itself was made sacred, to the point that President Coolidge could declare, “The man who builds a factory builds a temple. The man who works there worships there.” (See Guinness, The Call, 39-43).
Recovering a sense of calling requires that I re-integrate the horizontal with the vertical. This entails that I seek to find God in the daily details of life. As I seek Him and His voice in my daily interactions and meetings I begin to allow His voice to be “fine-tuned” to my current challenges and circumstances. I slow down enough to see His beauty and creativity interjected into each activity; I expect the wisdom of God to be encountered everywhere (see Proverbs 8:1-4 where wisdom “calls” from every part of the city!) I loosen my schedules and allow the Holy Spirit re-establish margin in my relationships, my work, my thoughts, and my … well, you fill in the rest!
Live with Margin!