Callings for Life (Concordia Publishing House, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Leininger, campus pastor at Concordia University Chicago, recently authored Callings for Life: God’s Plan, Your Purpose. First, Rev. Leininger observes, we find many ways to convince ourselves that we have one great calling in life. But, the author stresses, that belief represents a confusing and destructive myth. Furthermore, that myth fools us into thinking we’ll live miserable, meandering, and meaningless lives. Unless we find the singular purpose we were born to fulfill. Most significantly, the ultimate consequence of this myth results in the disruption of our relationship with God. Thus, we need to embrace this liberating truth — God gives us many simultaneous callings. Hence, to find and discover your callings, look to the faces, places and spaces of your life.
Therefore, all callings begin with faces, people with whom you establish relationships. So, since you already have many great things in your daily life, it’s a waste of time to search tirelessly and needlessly for the one great thing. Also, it’s hard to embrace the callings of your present life without constantly looking backward or forward. When you worship the past, you live unnecessarily in guilt and disappointment. In addition, seeking a return to a certain glorious past often sends you on an idolatrous quest. On the other hand, the most prevalent form the false god of the future takes on is godless anxiety. That blunts our ability to proceed in faith and love. To summarize, both the gods of the past and gods of the future seldom meet our expectations of meaning and personal fulfillment.
As a result, Rev. Leininger underscores, we need to see that our present callings all possess sacred value. Regarding the people in your life right now, know that their present matters — and their presence matters. Faithfulness in the ordinary callings of life – sweating the small stuff – signals the beginning of any great task and the virtue of any great person. While the big stuff may or may not come, you’ll always find the little stuff right in front of you. And God smiles on any such calling done in His name and in service to others. When done in faith, the lowliest tasks receive the highest praise. Every commonplace activity carries sacred import.
Finally, the author emphasizes, God writes the rest of your story when you find your calling in the ordinary rather than the dramatic. The mundane matters. Earthly and earthy existence still carry the Creator’s imprint. Jesus set aside His divinity to seek the lowest place of humanity. Faith in the incarnate Christ enables you to become more fully human – and much less than God. Yet, because we find our God-given callings difficult, God promises to give us His strength to fulfill those callings. God-given callings come with abundant responsibilities and obligations. But, God’s grace abounds all the more. We must rest fully in this grace.