Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Mission

When we are in touch with our values, our humanity, and the centrality of God (via gifts and graces), we may begin to sense “where” God is leading us, and “what” we are being called to be and do.  In other words, we may experience the first stirrings of mission.

We must take this seriously, although we must not think that our first sense of direction will be permanent.  Remember—your vocation is to belong to Jesus. Then, the Spirit of God begins to speak various “callings” (expressions) into that primal dedication.

I have put it this way over the years:  we have three levels of “call.”  First, there is the universal call to salvation.  Second, there is the general call to discipleship.  And third, there is the particular call to ministry.

The first two callings are permanent.  We are never intended to lay them down.  But the third level can (and probably will) change as time goes by.  If that were not true, God could never get our attention about new directions and fresh expressions of our fundamental vocation.

For now, the important thing is to recognize that God uses everything—our values, our humanity, and the gifts of the Spirit, to begin instilling “a sense of purpose” into our lives.  This is true for both clergy and laity because all Christians are supposed to live vocationally.  But when it comes to clergy, it means that we may begin to find ourselves drawn to a particular type of professional ministry.

We must not second-guess this, but rather follow God’s initial inclinations.  In other words, we learn by doing.  We find “more light” by walking in the light we have.  We can trust God to confirm us where our responses are accurate and convict us where they are not.  The journey is not scripted by us; we only walk it in obedience to the Caller.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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One Response to Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Mission

  1. jolhowell says:

    I can see that this as definitely my journey into chaplaincy (I note some of the faint stirrings in a January 2008 journal) . . . thank you for being one of the “graces” that heped me listen, however hesitantly!

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