[NOTE: This is blog post #23 related to the Christian concept of calling. For a list of all blog posts related to calling please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org].
What do Christian entrepreneurs think of the concept of calling? How do they articulate their calling? Would this help me formulate my own calling? Read on!
I recently concluded the inaugural Entrepreneurial Leaders Programme held in collaboration with Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. The focus was on how to equip Christian marketplace and entrepreneurial leaders for more effective difference-making in business, church, non-profit organizations and society.
I describe the Christian notion of calling as the cornerstone of difference-making. If a person is not clear on their calling, they will put a cap on their own effectiveness.
This was a very unique cohort in which to discuss calling. There were a group of highly successful and experienced leaders from throughout North America and Asia. They have been ardently pursuing their calling (somewhat like working out your salvation), in some cases for over of half a century.
I highlighted to the cohort that the notion of calling is not a one-time event or understanding, but rather something that people can re-think throughout their lives as their life circumstances change.
Few would quibble with the notion of calling, but its meaning and more importantly its practical application requires nuanced thinking.
I mentioned that calling has parallels with strategic planning for companies. I have taught strategic planning for many years, and many of the principles apply to individuals. Calling is a means to focus resources, tackle external challenges, set goals and objectives, see what’s working, and then recalibrate appropriately. Strategic planning for companies as well as individuals is an iterative process.
One issue that came up is how can one best state their calling. Is it brief and succinct, something that might apply to virtually any Christian? Or, should it be more complex and specific to the individual? Again, conventional strategic planning can provide some guidance.
“Vision statements” relate to what we wish to become. Mission statements deal with how we do our business. Vision statements are generally more brief, aspirational and inspirational. By contrast, the “mission statements” can be more detailed. The bottom line, however, is that clarity is key.
Of course, there are no biblical rules for how to summarize one’s calling. So, the point of summarizing one’s calling clearly is that it will help focus the mind and action of the believer and allow them to allocate their resources accordingly.
I asked the leaders to write down their calling. Here are 15 responses.
- “Leaving a legacy.”
- “Provide leadership to be a light to those around me and produce a profit to feed the hungry and spread the Gospel.”
- “Recognizing that my workplace is God’s mission field for me and encouraging fellow Christian business owners to seize their own opportunities likewise.”
- “To advance the Kingdom of God in Quebec through business relationships and the local church.”
- “To lead, guide and equip people for ministry.”
- “To be the light of the world in the pursuit of excellence.”
- “To equip Christian leaders for mission.”
- “To lead broken and lost youth to Jesus and leading others within this calling.”
- “Help build people and enterprises to the glory of God applying the Golden Rule.”
- “To be faithful and responsible in a leadership role.”
- “Use my God-given gifts, talents, experience and resources to partner with believers who have been given a vision and passion to grow God’s Kingdom.”
- “Do what is fair and just to your neighbour, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.”
- “To be a good steward of the resources God has entrusted to me.”
- "Create. Lead. Change.”
- “To know God and live in love and pursuing obedience.”
The above expressions of calling reflect the truth of the biblical concept. There is a two-fold call: the general callings for all believers; and a more specific calling for an individual tied into their gifting, circumstances and experiences. All believers are uniquely created and gifted. The above expressions of calling reflect considerable diversity, different interests and unique passions.
The call of each individual is subjective rather than objective; thus, one call is not better than the other as if it were measured against a particular standard. Thus, the goal for each believer, including the marketplace and entrepreneurial leaders in Oxford, is to identify their calling and then act upon it. This is the cornerstone for each individual to reach their difference-making potential.