“So what are your plans here? What do you think God is calling you to next?”
These are common breakfast table questions here at YWAM Ships Kona asked right after your name and where you grew up. It’s nice to be able to dive so deep initially with people but also is a difficult question for me to answer.
Well ultimately, I’m heading to Heaven but there’s a good bit of life (hopefully) to grow, settle, and move through until that point. The question of God’s calling for my life is one that I’ve wrestled with for the past ten years.
I take “calling” probably way too seriously because I’ve defined it as a specific work and mission to complete in life.
This work could only be done by me and would reflect God’s character while still making me look pretty awesome as well, to be honest. Most of my twenties have been a pursuit of my calling in different cities and jobs.
Now I am living and working with YWAM Ships in Kona Hawaii. Besides the fact that I live with 60+ people, a lot of my life is similar to how I lived back on the mainland doing work I termed “not my calling” but which paid the bills.
I work in an office five days a week and do laundry with my roommates on Saturdays. The focus of my work is to fill our ships with medical professionals and volunteers to staff regular medical clinics and outreaches in Papua New Guinea.
I love the people that I get to work alongside and learn from both here in Kona and Papua New Guinea. It takes a lot of moving pieces and there is a lot of administration that has been challenging, eye-opening, and rewarding.
This is the fifth month I’ve been in this role and already I can feel the itchy feet syndrome of wanting to move on to a different role, a different something else. In conversations with God and with others, there’s been a tension between choosing contentment and choosing to make changes.
During a staff review, God recently showed me that my purpose and calling in this role is not ultimately to serve the volunteers or even the people of Papua New Guinea. My calling isn’t a passion project or even filling a need, my calling is to love and glorify the person of Jesus Christ.
When I realized this, the question of calling suddenly became both clearer and more expansive. Understanding my calling this way took off a lot of the pressure to have something figured out and have a “cause” tagged with my name.
I don’t think it is wrong to know the specific people group or ministry that you want to be a part of but for me, that claim to a specific ministry was way too important in how I identified myself. It also allowed me to turn up my nose at doing things I thought outside or below my skills.
A good friend of mine wryly told me when I was complaining, “God doesn’t always call the equipped, but He does equip the called. That job is your calling right now so go do it!”
So what does that look like?
I make a daily choice to ask God for His perspective and His guidance for how to get things done and move forward. It looks like accepting consequences when I don’t get things done, choosing persistence when I want to give up, and choosing gratitude when I want to complain.
I’ve tried to change my habits and my attitudes through willpower before and it’s only changed my behavior for a little bit. That cycle of starting a new habit that trickles out after a few days or even a few months had demoralized me.
It’s made me not want to commit to things and believe that I couldn’t change because I had seen the crash and burn cycle so regularly. It also played a lot into my long quest for a calling as I consistently gave up on things when the going got tough.
God recently showed me how the power to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength” is given by faith and through the building up of a relationship with Him over time.
With God, I can see that He knows what I need and what I can handle.
This choice to love God requires all of the aspects of me including emotions, will, intelligence, and strength. It also means that everything I do is being done for God and in His Son Jesus’ name to those I interact with.
When I am sending out emails and filling out trackers, I’m reflecting the detail-oriented God who “’sees every hair on our heads” and “whose thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand.”
Walking with volunteers through the application process, I’m understanding more about the processes that God uses to pursue and disciple hearts to love Him.
This calling is a constant dialogue of being filled, directed and refined by God.
Port YWAM Kona Staff