“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Galatians 1:10
Too often, when we think about our calling, we worry and worry and worry.
Often, I talk to students that have just finished their schooling, just beginning their careers, and they always ask, “What does God want me to do? How am I supposed to live my life?” And they really wrestle. “Should I be an attorney, or should I be a pastor, or should I be a musician, or should I pursue art?” It usually boils down to some kind of vocation, but when you read scripture, that’s not really the first place that God goes.
Rather, you may actually have two options set before you vocationally that you may do, even now, and God may have a calling for you in both. God wants you to be the right kind of person and do the next right thing.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me find my calling in my everyday life. Wherever I am, show me who needs your love and care today. Amen.
Reflection: When have you felt the most effective in helping others?
The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.
Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.
Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.
Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.
Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.
Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.
When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!
Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.
Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.
Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.
Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.
He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).
Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.
Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).
Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).
Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).
Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).
Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.
Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.
Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.
On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.
Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.
However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.
Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.
Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).
The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).
Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.
He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.
Recently my husband, John Hagee, surveyed the women of our church and asked the question, “What do women want in a man?” Character traits such as faithfulness, honesty, respect and good communication all figured prominently in their responses. So did romance, a good sense of humor and an ability to be a good provider.
But of the top 10 qualities expressed by the women in our congregation, godliness ranked highest as the primary character trait women desired in a man. Actually, godliness is the sum total of all the top 10 desires women want most in a man.
Perhaps you would agree with what we found. If you do, my first question for you is, “Do you know how to recognize a godly man?”
When I considered the traits that women desired most, immediately I began to think of some of the heroes of the Bible, men in Scripture whom we identify as truly godly. But have you ever wondered what it might be like to be married to one of them?
Husbands of the Bible Noah, the Scriptures say, was a “just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God” (Gen. 6:9, The Amplified Bible). Now, for a moment, imagine what it would be like to be married to him.
He comes home one afternoon with architectural plans in his hands and tells you he has had a visitation from the Lord Himself. The great I AM has commanded him to do something he has never done before–with no budget and no true understanding of its purpose.
Furthermore, he says God is going to destroy all living creatures on the earth with water from the skies–a phenomenon not yet witnessed by any human being. So, he quits his job and begins his assignment.
Then Noah tells you that after his building project is completed, you and he and the children will take a long cruise. However, he doesn’t know exactly where or for how long. And there is one more catch–you must help him gather and care for those who will travel with your family, something about “two by two.”
You will have a thankless job, but he feels very strongly that he should obey the wishes of the Lord, for Jehovah God has promised to provide. Would you willingly work by his side?
Abraham was commanded by God to leave a very comfortable home and depart from his family and his country. God loves Abraham so much that He makes a special covenant with him (see Gen. 17:1-8).
He comes to you and recounts his visit with God. He persuades you to leave the dream house you just built and all that is important to you. He assures you that Yahweh has promised to bless him with descendents that will be too many to count.
Oh, and it gets better! While on your trip to “God only knows where,” Abraham convinces you to act as his sister for his protection. Even though this request from Abraham will put you in imminent danger, you finally agree.
Time passes, and the journey, which has been tough, finds you older now. You have given this man some of the best years of your life. You have a weak moment and determine that at your present age, you probably won’t produce an heir for your husband.
Therefore, you suggest–only once, I might add–that he go into your handmaiden and produce a child with her. Without hesitation he agrees–a little too quickly, if you ask me.
To add insult to injury, your favorite handmaiden, now heavy with your husband’s child, is flaunting her favored status. Would you leave your home and go with this man?
Moses was a man so loved of God that God chose him to lead His people out of bondage. Moses is the man to whom God entrusted His law. What would it be like married to Moses?
Moses is gone days at a time on spiritual mountain retreats without you. When he is home, he is overwhelmed with his task of leading millions of people somewhere, to arrive sometime.
It seems to you that you are hopelessly stuck in the desert. Moses spends most of his time in counseling sessions, trying to solve the chosen people’s problems.
He brings their problems home with him every night. Would you support this man and his ministry?.
David was a man after God’s own heart, a leader among men, a great warrior–but also an adulterer and a murderer and a failure as a father. What would it have been like to be married to him?
All these men have something in common: They were flawed individuals chosen by God to do His will. In order to accomplish their purposes, these men had to have very supportive and godly women by their sides.
Like these men, we are all flawed creatures. But there is a remarkable difference: The blood of a faultless Lamb covers us.
These men lived under the Law; we live under the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is His mercy that keeps us from getting what we deserve and His grace that gives us what we do not deserve.
Titus 2:11-12 says: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (NIV).
With this understanding of God’s generous outpouring of grace and mercy toward us, I want you to be excited about what the Lord can do in your husband and in your marriage.
What women want in a man may not be as easily attained as we might think. In fact, what women want may not be what God wants them to have.
But He can equip you with what you need in order to be the woman, wife and mother He intended you to be. He can turn your marriage into something that resembles heaven on Earth and your husband into a godly reflection of Himself.
Men After God’s Heart A godly man must have the mind and heart of God. He must be God’s hands and see as He sees. When a godly man sees the hurting and those bound by the ravages of sin, he thinks as God thinks, in terms of love and compassion for the loveless.
On one of our many trips to Israel, John and I were privileged to witness such compassion expressed through godly men. While on our flight to the Holy Land, two of the ministry partners with whom we were traveling shared their testimony with us.
They had accepted Christ while watching my husband on television. They told us of the homosexual lifestyle they had turned away from and the new joy they’d found. Thrilled with their new life, they were now on the trip of a lifetime.
Sadly, because of their past lifestyle, one of them was suffering from AIDS. They were concerned what others on the trip might think, but my husband assured them that all would be fine.
After much prayer, the young man gave my husband permission to tell the others in our group that he was ill and needed their prayers and assistance. I remember my husband asked the Lord to prepare the group for the news regarding our young friend. He prayed, “Father, give them Your ears as they hear this news, and keep them from fear as they respond to this child of God with Your loving heart.”
The next morning during our time of devotion, we told the group of our young friend’s need for healing from this dreaded disease. With tears in their eyes, members of the group came up to him one by one and knelt around him as, together, we agreed in prayer for his healing.
But the most profound moment for me took place at the Garden Tomb. We had a time of worship and then released the people to enter the empty tomb.
One by one they went in. My husband and I were watching these precious pilgrims experience a very solemn moment when something beautiful happened. The young man with AIDS was sitting several yards from the tomb because the large stones of the Garden made it difficult to maneuver his wheelchair.
Two of the men from our group went to him and placed their arms under his body. He anchored his frail arms around their shoulders as they carried him toward the tomb.
The people who were gathered around the doorway made a path for the three men to enter the dark mausoleum. All was quiet as they bowed their heads and prayed. The three men walked out of the tomb with tears flowing down their faces.
My husband and I felt privileged to see a demonstration of the heart of the living God arising out of that empty tomb.
The godly man sees the scarred hands of his Savior when he reaches out with his own hands to his wife, his children, or a stranger in good deeds and kindness.
Finally, a godly man must learn to say no to the world. The world does not recognize the righteousness of the God whom we serve.
When we buy a new car, it comes with an owner’s manual. That manual represents the manufacturer’s will for us — what to do, and not do, with the car. Sometimes we wish God had given us a unique owner’s manual for our life so we would know His will every day.
There’s no indication in Scripture that God gives anyone step-by-step directions for life (except in rare circumstances — see Acts 16:7). But God does have a calling and purpose for us on two levels: general and specific. Generally, God’s will for our life is contained in the Bible. What is written in Scripture is God’s will and calling for every Christian. Specifically, as we deepen our walk with Christ, God makes known His calling on our life individually. As we give over our talents and abilities to Him, become aware of our spiritual gifts and remain submissive to His leading and blessing, His calling on our life will become more and more evident.
Just as God told certain biblical characters what He wanted them to do, God will tell us as well if we are sensitive to His voice.
Christians are in the world to be witnesses, and they must concentrate on their calling.
Paul B. Smith
“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:19-21
We’re given just a little glimpse of Mary and Joseph before Jesus was born. They lived in the hill country of Galilee. Joseph was a religious man. Mary gives every evidence of having a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, even though she was a teenager. The Bible teaches that God was so pleased with her that He chose her to be the mother of Jesus. Mary and Joseph weren’t married, and yet Mary became pregnant.
I’ve often put myself in Joseph’s place—imagined his thoughts, his aspirations about the girl to whom he was engaged. But Joseph decided to break the engagement privately.
While he was thinking about these things, God’s angel appeared to him in a dream to give Joseph an explanation of the situation. All Joseph’s suspicions were put away. He accepted what God had said through the angel, and he was immediately married to Mary.
Both Joseph and Mary followed the call and plan of God, and through their obedience the way was prepared for Christ to come and bless us.
Are you seeking to follow God’s call on your life? Are you actively responding to Him? Tell us on ourFacebook page.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” –2 Peter 1:10-11
You have a calling, you have a purpose, you have something that God is asking you to do. Sometimes those callings, those purposes change over time so that when an old purpose or an old calling ends, we are sometimes left empty handed, a little blind.
Though each of us has a calling, things are different in the kingdom of God than they are in the kingdom of the world. We always want to begin, when we talk about calling, to ask, “What does God want me to do? Does God want me to do this? Does God want me to go there? What does he want me to do, vocationally? What does he want me to build?”
Those are good questions, but your calling does not actually begin with what God wants you to do. Rather, your calling begins with who God wants you to be. God cares more about your character than he does your accomplishments. God cares more about you being a good, courageous, just, friendly, loving, hopeful, joy-filled person, than he does about you creating a successful business, or even an outreach to the poor, or anything like that.
In the kingdom of God, our Father begins with the heart of each individual and plants within in it a unique calling in this world.
Prayer: Dear Lord, how reassuring it is to know that, by acquiring the characteristics that you have encouraged me to obtain, I will find my calling. Even when an old calling ends, by living the life you’ve designed for me, I will find my way to your next calling upon my life. Amen.
Reflection: Do you believe you’ve discovered God’s calling upon your life? If yes, describe that calling. If not, what part of your life or behavior is holding you back?
Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do” (1 Timothy 1:1, NASB).
Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the church. How do you know if God is calling you?
First, there is an inward call. Through His Spirit, God speaks to those persons He has called to serve as pastors and ministers of His church. The great Reformer Martin Luther described this inward call as “God’s voice heard by faith.” Those whom God has called know this call by a sense of leading, purpose, and growing commitment.
Charles Spurgeon identified the first sign of God’s call to the ministry as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” Those called by God sense a growing compulsion to preach and teach the Word, and to minister to the people of God.
This sense of compulsion should prompt the believer to consider whether God may be calling to the ministry. Has God gifted you with the fervent desire to preach? Has He equipped you with the gifts necessary for ministry? Do you love God’s Word and feel called to teach? As Spurgeon warned those who sought his counsel not to preach if they could help it. “But,” Spurgeon continued, “if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” That sense of urgent commission is one of the central marks of an authentic call.
Second, there is the external call. Baptists believe that God uses the congregation to “call out the called” to ministry. The congregation must evaluate and affirm the calling and gifts of the believer who feels called to the ministry. As a family of faith, the congregation should recognize and celebrate the gifts of ministry given to its members, and take responsibility to encourage those whom God has called to respond to that call with joy and submission.
These days, many persons think of careers rather than callings. The biblical challenge to “consider your call” should be extended from the call to salvation to the call to the ministry.
john newton, famous for writing “Amazing Grace,” once remarked that “None but He who made the world can make a Minister of the Gospel.” Only God can call a true minister, and only He can grant the minister the gifts necessary for service. But the great promise of Scripture is that God does call ministers, and presents these servants as gifts to the church.
Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the church? Do you burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care for God’s flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those Christians who know you best?