“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.” Romans 12:6 (NIV)
Last week, we saw that identifying our passions are key in the process of discerning our calling. But passion without competence is worthless. In Romans 12:6, Paul said, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” We have largely ignored this verse in the Church today, choosing to define calling as simply what we are really passionate about, rather than the intersection of both our passions and giftings.
Our work won’t feel like a calling until we reimagine it as service to our Caller and the world. It’s impossible to serve someone well if you aren’t gifted at your craft. You may be really passionate about wanting to fly an airplane, but if you’ve never been to flight school, you won’t be serving others by taking the controls in the cockpit. You may really want to be an entrepreneur, but if you’ve started multiple companies and have consistently lost investors’ money and laid off employees, are you really serving others through your chosen work?
In order to best glorify our Creator and serve others, we should do the work we are best at, work that God has equipped us to do exceptionally well. In her classic essay, Why Work? renowned British novelist Dorothy Sayers said, “The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”
Nobody starts their career knowing what they will be exceptionally good at. We learn what giftings God has given us through continual trial and error. Individual failures don’t necessarily mean that we aren’t gifted and called to a particular line of work. But if we are to glorify God and serve others through our vocations, we should be in a continual process of analyzing where our passions and giftings align. It is that intersection that brings us one step closer to discerning our calling.