We often think of calling as this mysterious, enigmatic idea.

I know lots of people who are waiting around for a calling

from God to come in the form of a dream or a vision or a

crazy prophet who walks up to them on the sidewalk with

fire in his eyes and a word from God — Go become a rockclimbing



And that does happen.


I think of Moses and the burning bush in Sinai or Paul on the

road to Damascus.


But what if those stories are in the Scriptures not because they

are normative, but because they are the exception to the rule?

Because for most of us, calling is much more ordinary and

normal and low-budget and made-for-TV.


I think a better way to think about calling is as what God made

you to do. How you’re hardwired by God.


I’m a sucker for personality tests — you know those? Myers-

Briggs, DISC, StrengthsFinder — I eat that stuff up. It’s the art

and science of humanness. It’s self-discovery — learning who

God made us to be. And they are incredibly helpful. I honestly

think that we’re more likely to figure out our calling from a

four-letter Myers-Briggs label than we are from a burning bush.

Although, if I had the option, I would go for the bush every time.

But so much of finding your calling is about finding out who

you are and what you alone can contribute to the world.


The word vocation can also be translated voice. Man, that says

a lot. Your vocation is your voice.


The Quakers have a saying about calling that I love: Let your

life speak.


Finding your calling is about finding your voice — what cuts

over all the din and drone of the other seven-billion-plus

people on earth. The tune and tone that only you can bring to

the table.


Calling isn’t something you choose, like who you marry or

what house you buy or what car you buy; it’s something you

unearth. You excavate. You dig out. And you discover.


We usually ask little kids, What do you want to be when you

grow up? I wonder if we’re setting them up for failure with that

question. Maybe a better question is, Who are you? What do

you think God made you to do when you grow up?


That, my friends, is the question. Who are we? How are we

hardwired by our Maker? What is it that God had in mind

the day we were born? These are the questions of calling

and vocation.


I was brought up in a culture that essentially said, John Mark,

you can do anything you put your mind to. If you work hard

enough, if you believe in yourself, if you’re patient, you can do

anything. This is such a middle-class-and-above American

way to think. Nobody in the developing world would ever talk

like that. And if you’re a millennial and you came of age during

the recession, fewer and fewer of us talk like that either.

But still, one of the reasons we’re so disillusioned with the

economy right now is because, somehow, this idea of “I can

be anything I want” is bred into us by our ancestry. And it’s not

all bad. It gave me the courage to dream and ideate and step

out in life.


But it’s also dangerous because, sadly, it’s not true.


I can’t be anything I want to be, no matter how hard I work or

how much I believe in myself.


All I can be is me. Who the Creator made John Mark to be.


If we fight the image of God in us — even if we succeed in the

short run — it will come back to eat us alive.


If you’re an introvert and you go into sales and you’re with

people ten hours a day — it will suck you dry.


If you’re a thinker with a rapacious appetite for learning but you

go into manual labor, it’s going to drive you insane.


If you’re a natural leader and love moving people

forward toward a goal but you end up doing research or writing

papers for a university of lab, it’s only a matter of time until you

go nuts.


Now, at some point, we just need to be thankful for a job. The

economy is in and out of the tank, and some of us have it

pretty tough. And it’s also true that Jesus is with us no matter what we do,

and what he called “life to the full” isn’t dependent on having our dream job.

At all.

Which is great, since billions of people see work simply as a way to survive.

We’ll talk more about that later.

For now, all I’m saying is what we do should grow out of who we are.


There’s a lot of talk about burnout right now. As a society, we

are overworked, tired, stressed out, and frazzled — the digital

age is hollowing out our soul. But burnout isn’t always the

result of giving too much; sometimes it’s the result of trying to

give something you don’t have to give in the first place.


You learn this when you try to do something and you fail. Or

worse, you succeed but a part of you dies inside.



Taken from Garden City by John Mark Comer. Copyright © 2015 by John Mark Comer. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.