4. Vocational Clarity

VC Outcome 1: Know the Dignity of Our Labour

Growth Suggestion A:

God’s Word tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24). Work, regardless of profession, contains both exciting elements and menial tasks. This is the nature of work. Whether you are performing your most preferred aspect of your role or the most mundane, remember that you are ultimately working for the Lord and no one else. It doesn’t matter where your paycheck comes from (or if you even receive one), every thing you do is for the glory of God. From washing dishes to preaching sermons, from mowing grass to planning budgets, your attitudes and actions reflect your heart as you work. Take a few moments and write a list of things you do that are related to your work – both at home and in the workplace. Separate the list into two categories –the things you enjoy doing and the things that you dislike. Now that you’ve discovered the elements of your work that you dislike, you will find it easier to keep your attitude in check while you are performing these tasks.

Growth Suggestion B:

Some people don’t feel a natural tug towards wanting to work. They do it because they have to, but they are easily distracted, aren’t always productive, and lean towards laziness. In an honest assessment of yourself and your work, does this sound like you? We need to realize that humans are designed to work. Genesis 1-2, which was prior to the fall of humanity, tells us that God created humans to work and rule over the earth, animals, and plants. Our laziness, unproductivity, lack of motivation, and disinterest are a result of sin. When we have an imbalance in our spiritual lives, we want to play, not work. When our spiritual lives aren’t in proper alignment with the Spirit, we lean towards laziness and not labour. This isn’t God’s design for us (Pro. 24:33-34). Do you often feel unmotivated about your work? Do you often have a sense of disinterest about your responsibilities? You need to recognize that this is not just a personal problem – at its deepest root it’s the result of sin. You need to ask God’s forgiveness for your sluggish work ethic and pray for God’s strength as you go about your work.

Growth Suggestion C:

Far too many people go about their careers, approaching it as routine and mundane. Once people settle into a career or ministry, they tend not to think about the Lord’s direction in their work after that. However, how much more impact could Christians have in their particular fields of work if they dedicated every single day of their labour to God? Regardless of how you spend your days – whether it is preparing sermons, caring for children, conducting business, or performing physical labour, God can be glorified through your work and you should seek the guidance of the Spirit as you labour. Have you neglected to pray for the Lord’s guidance as you go about your work? Have you relied too much on yourself, your routines, and your own gifts in your role(s)? Your work is important and your reliance upon the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance in your work will move you farther than you could ever go in your own strength.

Suggested Growth Resources:

Flourishing Churches and Communities: A Pentecostal Primer on Faith, Work, and Economics for
Spirit-Empowered Discipleship (Charlie Self)
Every Good Endeavour: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf) Your Call to Work and Mission (Steve Lim)

VC Outcome 2: Sense of Calling

Growth Suggestion A:

An important part of following your calling is knowing the difference be-tween your passion(s) and your calling. Too many people believe that what they are passionate about is what they should do for a living. This isn’t necessarily true. As an example, some people feel passionate about music. However, being passionate about music and even excelling in that area doesn’t necessarily mean that this is one’s calling. You should, without a doubt, spend time exploring the things you’re passionate about – music, cooking, sports, history – but these things may not be what God wants you to dedicate your whole life and vocation to. Many young people make the mistake of following their passion because they are unsure of their calling. When Samuel heard the voice of God, he didn’t recognize it – he needed Eli to tell him who was speaking (1 Sam. 3:1-10). When trying to discern the voice of God, you must first listen. You must also understand that it’s okay to get it wrong the first few times (Samuel did). You won’t learn how to hear God’s voice if you don’t practice. Also, in learning to listen, it’s a wise practice to find an Eli who can help you discern God’s voice. Try to find a trusted friend, pastor, parent, or mentor in your life who has heard God’s voice in their own life and who can help you hear as well.

Growth Suggestion B:

Prayer is essential in hearing and following the voice of God and being true to your calling. Perhaps you are confident in your calling and what God has asked you to do, but has this been a matter of prayer lately? What is God asking you to do today? While your calling may remain the same, generally speaking, is God leading you to a place of greater fulfillment of your calling? It’s easy to settle for ‘normal’ while continuing to feel as though you’re living out your calling. Perhaps God wants to bring you into a new phase of your calling. It is possible that God is drawing you into a new phase of growth, ministry, or discovery. Be open to hearing God’s voice. He has called you but will continue to refine that call as you continue to serve him faithfully. Even if you’ve been in leadership for years, begin to pray fervently for God to show you a clearer and more fully developed sense of calling for your life and ministry today.

Growth Suggestion C:

Calling is something that many people feel is very personal. Many people never really share their calling with another person, outside of very generic terms. Yet, God paints in our mind a clear picture of what our calling is. God leads us to things bigger than ourselves. For some, perhaps not sharing their calling in anything more than very nonspecific terms is a safety net, because no one will ever know if they miss the mark or never reach their God-given goals. Be challenged to share your sense of calling in very specific terms to a close friend in leadership. God may further develop the image as you progress, but sharing the journey with a friend will both keep you accountable and will encourage you to continually strive towards that vision.

Suggested Growth Resources:

Your Blueprint For Life: How to Align Your Passion, Gifts, and Calling With Eternity in Mind (Michael Kendrick)

VC Outcome 3: Insights Into Gifts and Talents

Growth Suggestion A:

Do you find yourself floundering, somewhat unsure of how you ‘fit’ in the work of the church and the body of Christ? If you haven’t yet been able to determine your areas of strength, then you may need to invest more time discovering those gifts. Talk with your pastor, presbyter, spouse, or a trusted friend to help you identify your gift(s). This may take some vulnerability, but being aware of your gifts and talents will leave you better equipped to serve the body of Christ.

Growth Suggestion B:

Both natural abilities (i.e. musical aptitude) and spiritual gifts (i.e. gift of knowledge) are intended to benefit the local church. Take an objective look at yourself and how your gifts and talents are being used. Are they primarily benefitting you personally? Or are they being used to build up and edify the body of Christ? If you are using your gifts and talents to primarily benefit yourself, then there is an imbalance in your spiritual life. Look for one new way to use your gifts to serve your church and community.

Growth Suggestion C:

Some believers are quite aware of their gifts and talents. This is typically a very good sign of growth, however, some people have fallen into the trap of only using their gifts and talents when it earns them public recognition. This is a sign of spiritual immaturity. While some natural abilities will naturally be used in a public setting, you shouldn’t base your worth on opportunities to demonstrate your giftedness. If this begins to happen, you will find yourself on a slippery slope of finding validation as a result of ability rather than your identity in Christ. To avoid developing a dependence on public demonstration of talent and human validation, begin using your gifts to edify another person or small group of people. Use your gifts even when there’s no ‘glory’ in it for you. After all, God has given you gifts and talents for His glory, not yours.

Suggested Growth Resources:

http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult

VC Outcome 4: Mission With Spouse

Growth Suggestion A:

When you get married, you have to learn to work together. You have a unique calling and passion and so does your spouse. Too often in marriage, particularly when both individuals are in leadership, one spouse feels as if their calling must be laid aside so that their spouse can pursue theirs. While marriage does involve sacrifice and there may be seasons of waiting for one spouse, God doesn’t intend for people to lose their passion and identity in marriage. Have both spousal partners maintained their identity and personal mission? Discuss this with your spouse to be sure that you both feel that you are following the Lord’s leading in personal mission.

Growth Suggestion B:

Are you somewhat, perhaps even subconsciously, annoyed or even jealous of your spouse’s mission? Perhaps he or she finds more fulfillment in their various roles than you do in yours. Or perhaps they are able to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never been given the opportunity. You must not allow your individual dissatisfaction cloud your ability to celebrate and support your spouse. Strive to let go of jealousy in favour of celebration. One of the joys of married life is that of helping one another become the best version of themselves that they can be.

Growth Suggestion C:

In a marriage, both husband and wife have brought to the relationship a unique calling. The passion and ministry of each spouse should never be in conflict with one another. In fact, they should compliment one another. Do you and your spouse support each other’s mission? Are you each other’s biggest encourager? You should celebrate each other’s mission and ministry. Furthermore, while you both have different roles to play, strive to find areas in which you can serve together. If your careers don’t allow for this, look for something completely outside of what you would normally do to work together in a cooperative mission. Both spouses function in their individual mission; yet the couple should also have a shared mission. What is your mission as a couple? Take some time to talk about this together. Share your heart for mission and ministry. Write down your shared goals and dream about how these goals can become reality.

Suggested Growth Resources:

You & Me Forever (Francis & Lisa Chan) – Free PDF download available

VC Outcome 5: Teamwork

Growth Suggestion A:

Perhaps one of the greatest failures in leadership is the failure to utilize other people. We fail at this for a number of reasons, including these: 1) The need to control our circumstances, 2) Perfectionism, 3) Lack of confidence, and 4) Poor ability to motivate others. Whatever the reason for not including others in ministries, leadership, or service, we are failing ourselves and failing the Lord when we fall into this rut. God wants the church to function as a team. The body of Christ is designed so that each body part can serve its function. When you get in the way of this, you are damaging the body. Whether you are poor at motivating others to serve or just feel you can ‘do it better yourself’, you are ultimately hindering and not helping. Take a few moments to evaluate yourself in light of teamwork. Do you tend to function as a lone wolf? Or do you work to include others, even when their skills aren’t as refined as your own? Do you need to make changes in how you function in this area?

Growth Suggestion B:

If you work with other staff, board members, or leaders, how deep and authentic are these relationships? Do you simply do what needs to be done and fulfill your duties?That’s enough, right? No, it’s not. Shallow relationships will never change people. Think of your own journey. Can you think of five sermons that changed you? Probably not. Can you think of five people who helped shape you? Quite probably! The biggest way you can impact the leaders you serve with is through sharing life together and developing mutually-transformative relation-ships. The team(s) you work with may function well, but with authenticity and transparency they will go to a whole new level of meaning and purpose in the lives of all who participate in them. This can be very difficult for some people – particularly those who have not had these kinds of relationships in the past, or for those who are highly introverted. However, the reward is worth the initial dis-comfort. Consider the relationships you have with the leaders you work with. Can you intentionally be more authentic? Are you able to share life in a more genuine way? If so, start moving in that direction.

Growth Suggestion C:

Is your participation in the team effort more about the team or about you personally? When you participate in teamwork, you should strive to work towards the team’s goals, not simply satisfying your personal agenda. Are you celebrating the successes of other team members? Are you working hard to help achieve the goals of the team? Check your attitude to be sure that your teamwork is not self-serving, but genuinely interested in supporting the team’s mission. Ask a trusted friend and teammate if they feel you are serving the group well. An outside opinion may help you discover ways that you can grow and become a better team player.

Suggested Growth Resources:

How To Be A Team Player and Enjoy It: A Study in Staff Relationships (Matt Williams)
Sticky Teams (Larry Osborne)
Becoming A Healthy Team: Five Traits of Healthy Leadership (Stephen Macchia)

VC Outcome 6: Biblical Integration

Growth Suggestion A:

It’s one thing to have a decent knowledge of the Word of God, but how does this knowledge impact your day-to-day life? It’s so easy to preach from our soapboxes about ethical issues or social justice, but are we actually doing anything about the issues we claim are so important? Pause for a moment and consider the issues you feel passionate about in society – perhaps you are concerned about environmental concerns, sexuality and gender, abortion, assisted suicide, bullying, hunger, poverty, and so on. Now, what are you doing to influence these issues personally or publicly? If you aren’t doing anything about it then your ability to integrate biblical principles into your daily life needs to grow.

Growth Suggestion B:

Christians tend to compartmentalize their lives. It’s as if we think we can divide our lives – Sunday is for worship; the rest of the week is reserved for our normal, everyday lives. However, this divide is not only unnecessary, it’s unhealthy. Whether you are in church or at work, on the soccer field or in the soup kitchen, every part of your life is an act of worship to God. Make a practice of fighting against injustice outside of church work. Christians know what the Lord requires of them as they integrate his Word into their daily lives: “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). When you fight against human trafficking, you are doing justice. When you serve the poor and destitute in your community, you are showing your love for mercy. Your biblical knowledge must be more than just knowledge; it must impact the way you live.

Growth Suggestion C:

If you’ve made conscious efforts in your own life to be active in areas of social justice and other important matters, you likely find it very frustrating when you see such in-activity on the part of other believers and churches. Try to find ways to engage other Christians and your local church in rallying around an important matter. Are there many single mothers in your area? Perhaps you can arrange a clothing drive or a food hamper donation for these women. Are there many seniors who need care? Organizing a visitation team would be a great idea. Are there people in your community struggling with addictions? Maybe your church can host a recovery program. The needs are endless, but so are the possibilities. Your biblical knowledge shouldn’t go to waste. You know what needs to be done so encourage others to get involved and start a movement! This is true biblical integration.

Suggested Growth Resources:

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church (Michael Lawrence)

VC Outcome 7: Seek the Common Good

Growth Suggestion A:

In the life and ministry of Jesus, we clearly see how he went about “doing good” (Acts 10:38). In every community he visited he looked for ways to bless the people. Evaluate yourself. Do you look for ways to bless your community? Are you known for “doing good” every-where you go? How do other people in your church and community perceive you? Are you known as a person who just does your own thing and who does not pay much attention to others? Or are you known as a person who is always concerned about other people, going out of your way to help them? As a disciple of Jesus, how other people perceive you on a broad scale is important.

Growth Suggestion B:

Jesus healed people who didn’t even bother to come back and thank him (Lk. 17:11-19). Do you measure whether or not your efforts to do good are worth continuing based on how much thanks or recognition you earn as a result? For example, if your church organized a community clean up, as a service to the town, but didn’t receive any official or public recognition for the service, would some suggest (perhaps even you?) that it’s not worth doing again since the efforts weren’t appreciated? Or maybe you delivered muffins to an elderly person in your church who complained that they weren’t the kind they like. In either case, you should never measure whether or not you should continue doing good based on the recognition you receive from your acts of service. Jesus apparently didn’t measure His success on such things; neither should Christians. Do you tend to subconsciously wonder if you should do something or not based on whether your efforts will be noticed or appreciated? If so, your motives are wrong. Be cautious of your moti-vation for doing good to ensure that your efforts are intended solely to seek the common good and not just for your own benefit.

Growth Suggestion C:

Seeking the common good is ultimately about what Jesus would do in any given situation or context. People can often feel limited by factors outside of their control. However, as a follower of Jesus living in the power of the Holy Spirit, you should dream big for ways to impact those around you by doing good. What would Jesus have you do, plan, implement, organize, or administer in your context? Ultimately, Jesus wants you to shine His light and He will lead you. Pray for guidance as you look for any and every opportunity to go about “doing good.”

Suggested Growth Resources:

Doing Good – DVD Series (Chip Ingram)
Doing Good Without Giving Up: Sustaining Social Action in a World That’s Hard to Change (Ben Lowe and Ajith Fernando)
Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbour (Margot Starbuck)

VC Outcome 8: Mentoring Others

Growth Suggestion A:

Mentoring isn’t something we give enough thought to. Some feel that it has become just another ‘buzz word.’ But it goes much deeper than that. Timothy followed Paul and learned from his example. Timothy was shaped, in many ways, through the ministry of Paul. There was no formal agreement, but Timothy learned and grew by being with and observing Paul. Spend some time asking yourself these questions: While you may not have even realized it at the time, consider who your mentors were in your most formative years? Why were these people so important? What did they teach you? Who are your mentors now? How is it different and what are you learning from them? Recognizing the important mentors in your own life will leave you in a better place to mentor others.

Growth Suggestion B:

Some people carry on with their leadership roles, feeling that their ad-ministrative, leadership, or public efforts are enough to feed the flock and help them grow. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul and Timothy are a great example of biblical mentoring. Paul taught Timothy and helped shape his character. Further, Jesus gathered a group of 12 disciples and poured his life into them. Are you intentionally mentoring others into stronger faith, deeper spirituality, and more Christ-like character? If you are, keep going! If you aren’t, you need to be. Disciples make disciples and mentoring is one of the best ways that you can disciple other people. Look around you and find someone you can mentor – a younger leader and/or a new believer, and start the process of investing in him or her! Start small (a conversation or coffee) and let the rela-tionship grow both organically and intentionally.

Growth Suggestion C:

When thinking about mentoring, you may envision an older, more seasoned individual passing their knowledge and deep spirituality down to a younger, less experienced or less developed person. However, have you ever wondered if that practice can be reversed? It can!This can be highly effective for the more mature believer. Often, mature believers subconsciously arrive at a place where they plateau and stop growing. Along with this mentality is a subtle sense of “knowing better” than younger Christians and not needing to learn from them. First of all, if you reach a point where you don’t feel further growth is necessary then this is a sign of spiritual immaturity and a lack of spiritual vitality. Second, believers should learn from each other, regardless of how long we’ve been serving the Lord. Simply because you’ve been on the road longer than another person doesn’t guarantee that your growth is superior to theirs in every area. It’s highly likely that you can learn from them! Give it a try. Start by genuinely listening to younger Christians to hear what they think and why they have come to certain conclusions. Maybe you could learn something. As you do this, start to spend more intentional time with younger leaders and believers – and watch this process of reverse mentoring at work!

Suggested Growth Resources:

Mentor Like Jesus (Regi Campbell and Richard Chancy) Transforming Together: Authentic Spiritual Mentoring (Ele Parrott)
Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking & Giving Direction (Keith Anderson and Randy Reese) Reverse Mentoring: How Young Leaders Can Transform the Church and Why We Should Let Them (Earl Creps)