10 Quotes that Will Radically Reshape Your Idea of Calling

Tim Keller on “Why Calling Matters”

“Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavours, even the best, will come to naught. Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”

Os Guinness on “Making an Idol of Work”

“Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center? Do we put our emphasis on service, usefulness, or being productive in working for God—at his expense? Do we strive to prove our own significance? To make a difference in the world? To carve our names in marble on the monuments of time? The call of God blocks the path of all such deeply human tendencies. We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. We are not called to special work but to God. The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God himself.”

Os Guinness on “The Distortion of Spiritual/Secular Dualism of Calling”

“If all that a believer does grows out of faith and is done for the glory of God, then all dualistic distinctions are demolished. There is no higher/lower, sacred/secular, perfect/permitted, contemplative/active or first class/second class. Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. For Luther, the peasant and the merchant— for us, the business person, the teacher, the factory worker, and the television anchor—can do God’s work (or fail to do it) just as much as the minister or missionary.”

Martin Luther also goes on to say:

“The maid who sweeps here kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

Oswald Chambers on “Being Too Busy for God”

“Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. . . . The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. … The men and women our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff, plus dominating devotion to Himself wrought by the Holy Spirit. Be absolutely His.”

“Those who have a “why” to live can bear with almost any how.” – Viktor Frankl

Oswald Chambers on “The Spiritual Readiness of the Call”

“God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, “. . . who will go for Us?” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”

Os Guinness on “The Power and Response of God’s Calling”

“Thus, for followers of Christ, calling neutralizes the fundamental position of choice in modern life. “I have chosen you,” Jesus said, “you have not chosen me.” We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. We have no rights, only responsibilities. Following Christ is not our initiative, merely our response, in obedience. Nothing works better to debunk the pretensions of choice than a conviction of calling. Once we have been called, we literally “have no choice.” ― Os Guinness

Martin Luther King Jr on “Being Called to Excel in Your Calling”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”Frederick Buechner on “How to Discern Your Calling”

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Parker Palmer on “Studying your Uniqueness to Discover Your Calling”

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”

Parker Palmer on “Becoming the Person You Called to Become (Not What the World Wants of You)”

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”

Question: How do you discover God’s calling in your life?

  • Thank you Paul for bringing these quotes together in one place. Each one is worth deeply pondering over and then applying to one’s life.

    • Glad the post was helpful. Thanks for stopping by, Sunil!

  • Hi Paul, great list. I would have to say my concept of calling is ever growing. For many years I have struggled with it. At age 16 I heard God calling me to a Pastor however my path to live that out has not been a “traditional” one. Even now I am a bi-vocational pastor so I work a job outside the ministry. I am working hard to see both my “job” and my “ministry” as calling. Only recently have I been contemplating that all work is spiritual. A principle that God instituted in the garden. It seems like both Luther’s allude to this thought. I also have to be careful that my ministry does not become an idol. – My relationship with Jesus is more important than what I do for him. Or what I do should flow out of that relationship.

  • Carla Johnson

    The voice of God gives us peace in the storm. We have all been called to do something unique and only that will glorify GOD. We must learn to listen to that quite still voice on the inside of us, it is put there to direct us through the clutter of life’s challenges.

  • MythManJ

    Answer: Read your Bible, and let its wisdom (mostly Proverbs) shine-through in your daily actions.
    That’s putting it a lot simpler than it actually is, but that’s the base-outline.

  • DS

    It’s normally by slowing down and listening. The busy-ness bug catches so many of us in the US.

  • auggnation

    good stuff man

  • josie baltazar

    thank you paul, you remind me of my son named as paul john, being a working mom is hard, i can say that my call is very clear –to be a salt and light of this world, but being a salt in the life of my sons should be manifested with the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit– patient, love, endurance and long suffering…a wonder of being a disciple of Christ.

  • Florine

    It is so easy to get sidetracked by so much to do that we put duties before relationship. A great list. Seek first the King of the kingdom. thanks

  • Pam

    paul, I love this!! And I would love to know the answer to the question you posed? Oh my do I struggle with accepting the call on my life. It seems to huge, I feel almost completely underqualified and according to the world.. I AM! Yet it is exactly what I clearly hear Him whispering and bringing thru open doors and opportunites. Yet I am terrified! Why? Because it ties into my childhood dreams, my hearts desire and what I love the most and I believed the lie of fear and insecurity for so long, How can it be? I can do All things thru Him who gives me stregnth. It will only come from Him as I bravely walk thru the doors He opens.. I do it afraid with knees knocking and an often extremely dry mouth with the enemy hammering “You’re a fool, you suck, no one is going to like your stuff!” Then I go anyway, simply believing God is all He says He is and trusting He has made a way! Amen.. Great post.. Thanks