At age 19, I sensed God calling me into pastoral ministry. I’ve never doubted that calling from the time I first became convinced of it.
But it’s taken so much learning and growing to get to a place where I just now feel that I’m coming into my own. I’m beginning to grow into the pastor that I know God has always wanted me to be. And, at age 27, I know I still have a long way to go.
Even though I’m young, it feels like it’s been a long, strange journey to this point. Because when God calls you into something bigger than yourself, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to fling open every necessary door in that moment. You probably aren’t even ready for those doors to be flung open.
So there’s a period of preparation, of cultivation, of evolution in your soul. A process that takes you from being the person you are to the person that God wants you to be. The person who is going to fulfill the calling that God has given you.
I feel like I’m still waiting to know the fullness of God’s calling on my life. Almost a decade later, I’m still in the “figuring it out” stage.
But from where I stand now, here are 8 roadblocks I’ve experienced that can keep someone from their calling.
These are 8 things that can stunt our spiritual growth if we let them. Avoid them. Fight them. Be aware that they are out to get you, and then conquer them.
When the nation of Israel returned from a 70 year exile in Babylon, they dreamed of rebuilding God’s holy temple. But when things got difficult, they gave up. And they made themselves feel better about it by saying, “It’s just not the right time yet.”
But the prophet Haggai had a pointed question in return: When will it be the right time, then?
Sometimes we need to stop waiting for someone to give us permission to begin doing what God has created us to do. Just start doing it.
What dream has God put in your heart? What calling has he placed within you? Find a first step in the right direction and take it. Be aggressive. The time is now.
Having this approach means that you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll take off in the wrong direction. You’ll have to course correct. You’ll have to backtrack and undo some things. But all of that still means that you’re further along than if you would have done nothing.
Paradoxically, impatience can trip us up just as badly as procrastination. But we have the tendency to think that Rome was built in a day. At least I do.
But it’s not that simple. Just because you’re working hard toward your ultimate goal, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to reach it anytime soon.
The process is long. The place God is calling you to may involve years of training or education. I’ve been in school continuously for ten years after high school. Trust me, I feel you.
So we need to aggressively take every baby step, fully realizing that each one is in fact a baby step. If we forget how long the road is, we might give up hope or take a shortcut that compromises our character and future potential.
The path from where you are to where God is calling you to be is rarely a straight line. And it’s almost always even more winding than we anticipate.
The place God is calling you to may involve incremental growth and minimal success for a prolonged season. It may involve setbacks. The journey may be full of near misses.
Think about Moses. He knew from a young age that God wanted to use him for big things. But it wasn’t until he was 80 years old that God’s incredible plans for him began to unfold in his life. It’s not hard to imagine that he felt lost somewhere along the way.
It’s easy to get discouraged. But don’t linger there. Find a way to remember the hope and passion that God has put within you.
Your journey is just that. Your journey. Too often we look to the left and right to see how successful we are rather than looking up and within to check how faithful we’re being.
Don’t grow insecure when it feels like someone who’s younger than you seems further along than you. Learn to celebrate the way God’s faithfulness is showing itself in someone else’s life.
Instead of allowing the successes of others to make you feel like a failure, may their success inspire you to continue striving in the direction God has called you. If he has been faithful in their lives, and you can see it, isn’t that all the more proof that he is able to do the same in yours?
Don't grow insecure when it feels like someone who's younger than you seems further along that you. Learn to celebrate the way God's faithfulness is showing itself in someone else's life. Click To Tweet
In the interlude of preparation for your calling, it’s easy to lose sight of what you set out to do. This is an especially dangerous pitfall for those who have high capacity and potential in more than one thing.
There are so many things you could do. But what has God called you to do? Do that. Don’t get distracted.
This doesn’t mean that God will never alter your course midstream or clarify your calling in a new way. He probably will. Just don’t be carried away by every new great idea that pops into your head.
Fear of failure can be paralyzing. Fear of looking dumb. Fear of a bruised ego and reputation. Fear of a financial loss. Fear of the unknown.
But faith is far more powerful than fear.
What’s more is that the pain of regret is far worse than the pain of failure. So fear that instead. Fear what it would cost you to give up on your calling because you didn’t believe that God could do it.
Do what God has called you to do. Fear not. He is with you. And when you fail, he’ll still be with you. It’s all good.
An exhausted you is not the best you. When God created the world, he rested on the seventh day. And he didn’t do that because he was tired. He’s God. He just spoke everything into existence like it was nothing.
Yet he paused to rest. To reflect. To enjoy.
And so God put forth this principle for us: six days you will work, one day you will rest.
While some of us need reminding that six days we will work, for those who are ambitious, looking to grow, looking to become all you can be, you need to be reminded: one day you will rest.
You need to find a regular rhythm of rest. If not, you will make worse decisions. You will focus less. You will not excel in the ways you hope to.
It seems counterintuitive, but in order to do everything you feel God calling you to do, sometimes you need to take some time to do nothing. It’s good for you. Stop burning the candle at both ends.
It may seem counterintuitive, but in order to do everything you feel God calling you to do, sometimes you need to take some time to do nothing. It's good for you. Stop burning the candle at both ends. Click To Tweet
Stubbornness has the ability to beat you before you even get started. When we sense that God is calling us into something outside our own plan for our lives, our first response is usually resistance.
I know that was true for me. And Moses. And Jonah. And Jeremiah. As well as so many others.
But when God calls you into something new, something difficult, something bigger than you, something outside your plan, he won’t give you peace until you fulfill your calling.
So stop being stubborn. Start being willing. God has a way of getting to you eventually. So why fight it?
And it’s not that God is calling you into the inevitable, so you might as well accept it. It’s that the God who created you is calling you to the things that will make your soul come fully alive. So don’t fight that. It’s for your good!
God calls us all into great things. They aren’t always what we expected. They aren’t always as glamorous as we had hoped. They don’t always pay as well as other things we’d be good at. But they lead to a better life. A life lived fully alive in Jesus.