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Monday, July 23, 2007
Signs of a Call
One sign that God may be calling is a certain restlessness, a certain dissatisfaction with things as they are. Other signs of God’s call may be a sense of longing, yearning, or wondering; a feeling of being at a crossroads; a sense that something is happening in one’s life, that one is wrestling with an issue or decision; a sense of being in a time of transition; or a series of circumstances that draw one into a specific issue.

- Suzanne Farnham, et al, Listening Hearts

Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? What would you add to this?

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posted by Lydia at 7:05 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 7/23/2007 07:30:00 AM, Blogger wilsford

    What I think about the signs of being called by God depends upon my base assumptions.

    If I assume that there is a God, and that God has a personal interest in who I am, and that God acts in such a way as to draw human beings into the service of God, then I am more likely to identify these symptoms as a calling from God.

    If my belief system does not allow for a personal God who interacts with individual humans, I am more likely to interpret these symptoms as arising from my own need to make changes in my life.

    If I don't believe in God or am highly resistant to the idea that God would call on me, yet identify this insistent yearning as originating in God, I'm in for a spiritual journey which will be carried out in accordance with who I am.

  • At 7/23/2007 09:04:00 AM, Anonymous becky

    I'm in a situation like that now and the struggle is to "stay and be" until where I should go next becomes clear. Two books that I found to be very helpful were "The Dark Night of the Soul" and "The Restless Heart" (Debra Farrington).

  • At 7/23/2007 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I agree with wilsford. I have probably fallen in a couple of those descriptions. Unfortunately, I am in a place where I think many times those feelings "at least for me" are probably some kind of deep pyschology.

    I am a little cynical, I have heard many people "called by God", but then later it doesn't quite work out, or ends up a bad decision etc. In my experience, it was God's calling when someone wanted something to work a certain way, and then when it doesn't, well there are many excuses why it didn't. I for one am not comfortable saying "God called me to X", is it possible, probably, but I have experienced the overuse of God's calling quite often.

  • At 7/23/2007 04:55:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I agree with the quote, at least in my life. I also like what everyone else has contributed.

    Wilsford, very true, it has a lot to do with foundational assumptions.

    Becky, thanks for the book recommendations.

    Michele, boy, do I understand your sentiments. I struggle with that right now. I do "feel called", but even saying that, I feel weird. I don't consider myself special or have some high position to which I am trying to attain. Rather, I feel like God has let me glimpse a bit of my purpose and passion. Who knows if I'll ever get paid to do what I want to do, or if I'll have to go get a lame job to do what I want to do. I don't know how everything will work out, but I do know a direction to pursue. I guess that's what a call is to me...

  • At 7/24/2007 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I should clarify a little. I think there is a lot of pressure in Christian circles to be X, Y, and Z. As my thoughts have changed, and I have been more open with some of those closest to me, I realize the expectations were difficult for many.

    For example, I have been in church my whole life, and was very involved many of those years. It seemed like many around me were having "God speaking/calling me moments" all of the time, it just wasn't happening to me. The only time I came close to having those moments were during what I now consider "heavily emotional/psychological" moments. (i.e. alter calls, Christian summer camps etc.) Others have had similar experiences. I have heard time and again that people didn't understand why they didn't have the same connection with God that others seemed to have.

    Then I started watching the "new Christian" phenomenon (my phrase LOL). It didn't take much for me to see that friends who "became Christians" were all of a sudden having the Jesus moments all of the time also.

    So, is it bad to believe that God is calling, no. I think great things come through these times. Amy, I am sure your sense of calling will bring wonderful things. The down side is that if failure comes or "our calling" doesn't quite work out it can effect our "connection" with God. We may be hard on ourselves, feel as if we disappointed God, and others may look at us in a harsh way, etc. etc.

    One last example. Our church has been transforming to a more "emergingish" church. We used to have approx. 600 plus attendees. We have been running under 100 now, with probably half being new attendees. Our pastors felt they needed to take it this direction, that it is worth the pain, and difficulty to do so. Many, including myself, are grateful for this direction. Honestly, I had more "Jesus moments" in the last year than any other time in my life. However, if you asked many of the 500 others (that left), they think that this direction was not God, and just ego driven, that God isn't present in our church any longer, and "God called them" to find another church.

    So it is always an interesting idea. No matter what our beliefs or faith backgrounds, "God calls people", but if you lined up the callings, many times they are completely contradictory or headed in very different directions. That is why I struggle with this idea. I think it is ok to feel called by God, but we need to be open to the possibility of other things. Especially in times where our "calling" doesn't quite go the right direction, we can be forgiving of ourselves and continue seeking God.

  • At 7/24/2007 01:49:00 PM, Blogger Searching4meaning

    I have pastored in a denomination that puts a great deal of emphasis on call. In fact you can't be ordained unless you convince a particular committee that you are called. And yes, people have been refused ordination becuase this committee did not think that the person was called. How anyone can tell what has or not happened in my experience with the divine is beyond me.

    I have felt for a while that this puts a lot of pressure on call and on what people's expectation of call are. Do we have to have a "Damascus Road" experience to be called into ministry? Is a lighning bolt more convincing than subtle nudgins of the Spirit. Or, as I am beginning to explore- could I just be a human being who is increibly interested in theology and the religious experience who has the skills, training, and desire to be a pastor?

    There are many people who claim to be called- who you have to wonder- if you maintain a strict understanding of calling- what was God thinking, when you look at their actions and the harm they have done to Christianity.

    We are such complex psychological beings I believe that it is almost impossible to distinguish between our wants and desires and the call of God. Is it such a bad thing to say I simply want to be a pastor? And believe that God smiles on my decision and equips me for the task?

  • At 7/24/2007 07:51:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    So many good thoughts here.

    Michele & S4M, I hear you...I find that I am cynical, but in the sense of a cynic being a broken-hearted idealist. I almost think that the emphasis on proving a call produces more fakes, whether intentionally or just people who feel like they have to turn a committee interview into a spiritual CV. Yet I think just going cold turkey and throwing out the principle of Call is not a healthy reaction either. I resonate with the idea exploring the work of God's Spirit, assuming a Call (in the sense that if each of us is part of Christ's body, we all have a place and purpose) and just trying to discern what that looks like in each of our lives in its unfolding seasons.

    Where I am, I think you can't separate psychology and spirituality; trying to figure out what's what is like arguing about whether a placenta belongs to mother or fetus. I see psychology as a vehicle/expression of spirituality at the exact, poingnant point where Grace & Truth illumine our beings and compel us align ourselves with a loving Paradox.

  • At 7/24/2007 08:49:00 PM, Blogger lori

    I can't remember when I first knew I had a "calling" but I know that I was crying when I realized it. And I know it was in a moment when I really didn't want to be involved in serving God anymore yet knew down in the depths of my soul that I really had no choice. When you know that to do anything else would be going against what God has for you....I think you should explore the possibility that you've been 'called'.
    "Hearing God's Call" by Ben Campbell Johnson is a pretty good book on the topic.

  • At 7/24/2007 10:39:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Michele, I knew where you were coming from and I definitely agree. So often a "call" is part of a push for an emotional experience.

    For me, I feel like a call doesn't necessarily mean going into a formal ministry role, but rather doing the life God called you to. As Christians I think each of us has a call; to serve God. Some of our churches have a business structure and some of us may find roles within that, but I don't think that's necessarily the "call of God." I think the call is about serving God, which can happen in many diverse ways.

    Growing up, being "called" meant having a successful job and role within the church. I guess I feel that's not descriptive of a call. It's not about success or emotion.

  • At 7/25/2007 10:21:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    All great comments!

    Amy I agree, a call to me is living in a way that shows God in our lives. If we are 'called' we all are in one way or another, I think there is something within all of us that seeks the peaceful, giving, loving life that can be possible.

  • At 7/26/2007 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Candace

    In my experience when I hear someone refer to a calling from God, I used to have this sinking feeling in my stomach, like everyone was in on a secret, but not me. Is it possible that I don't understand that special Christian language, "Calls from God"? Did I miss the huge gathering in which everyone but me was taught when and where and how to listen for that anticipated call? Was there something wrong with me as a Christian? In my former churches, I never would have asked these questions for fear of a candlelight vigil being held just for me in hopes that I would hear from God that very night, the potential whispers questioning me faith.

    But I then found the answer to my personal dilema in an odd place...the beautiful writings of Elie Wiesel's novel, Night:

    "...every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer...Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him...therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and God replies. But we don't understand his replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers you will find only within yourself...I pray to God within me for the strength to ask Him the real questions."

    It is my faith that gives me the foundation to listen to that dialogue within myself, the dialogue that is inspired and cultivated by my faith, but I don't profess it to be "the calling of God" - I am just not comfortable with the concept.

  • At 7/27/2007 12:16:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Nice passage Candace!


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