We’ve talked about our calling to specific lives in the context of a universal calling. We’ve discussed things that keep us from running our own race. But how do we start running our race? If we’re going to leave behind comparison and competing, where do we go?
When we want to become skilled in a service industry or become a doctor or lawyer, the first thing we do is start studying. We go to school. We attend workshops. But we don’t do this with life outside of our very specific jobs. (And really, so many of us don’t have very specific jobs.) We believe that God is remaking our humanity and apparently think we don’t have any responsibility in cooperating with His work. Of course when I write that out, it seems crazy. But I did it for years. I seemed to expect that automatically ideas would come to me in the dark hours of the night. Now, occasionally they do; but it’s because I’m putting in a lot of work behind the scenes and my brain is already moving.
Start with yourself. Learn how God made you; there are some pretty good clues hidden in that. God’s not trying to confuse you or watch you waste your life being aimless. Ask Him. Seriously spend some time praying about what God wants you to be doing. Take the enneagram (actually, listen to someone talk about the enneagram; it’s a much better way to find your type). Learn what makes you tick. Investigate how you look at the world. Take a spiritual gifts test. Lifeway has one that my discipleship group took individually and discussed together and I still carry things I took away from that.
Read Restless by Jennie Allen. I still want to go back through it with a very small group and work through the exercises. Make a list of skills you have and activities you are good at. Write down the things that spark passion and joy in you. Ask people who know you well. They often have a completely different perspective than you do. Don’t even skip your challenges and struggles. God quite often works in those.
It’s fundamental to Christianity that we are broken, sinful people. We know that we will fail and sin and consistently still need the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. We are also gloriously made in the image of God and He loves us deeply. God made us on purpose and desires to redeem us and make us new. You are made on purpose by God. He has good works ready for you. You are commissioned to be an ambassador, to be a minister of the new covenant. You don’t get to hand off that responsibility.
The goal isn’t to become famous or lead large ministries or achieve what you consider success. The goal is to be faithful wherever God puts you with whatever work God gives you. Working on running your own race doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly have a life plan or know every step you’re going to take ahead of time. You’re going to learn to be available and serve right where you are today. This, whatever you are doing, is the ministry God has given you. It’s right here, right now.
The Christian life is not a competition. Cheerlead those around you. While they run their different races, cheer them on. Encourage them. Edify them. Exhort them. Jesus said the laborers are few. Don’t try to knock others out of the running so you seem more impressive. Get as many people to go with you as you can. Pass on all you know and learn all you can. Do both from all people.
Go where you want others to go. Don’t sit somewhere and encourage others to run in a different direction. There is no need for grandstand direction. Leave tracks for the people coming after you. Run the same faithful paths your whole life so that other people can find the direction when you’re gone.
Sometimes we make this more complicated than it needs to be. God wants our todays. Our lives, right now where He has put us, handed over for His purposes.