Calling is not easy to define or explain and not necessarily easy to find. You know how people tend to say “you just know” when asked how they knew they had found the person they wanted to marry? Calling is a bit like it. When you’re living your calling, you just know. This kind of answer is frustrating for those of us still wondering whether we should marry someone or if a certain path is our calling. We all tend to want a checklist, a set of guidelines, maybe a nice, easy, colorful 20 question quiz that will reveal the answer to what we should do next.
Unfortunately Calling doesn’t usually fit into answer A, B, or C. There’s an ebb and flow of questioning, waiting, knowing, responding and questioning again. Asking questions is the best way to start looking for your calling. When we start asking questions, we start moving and movement is important. Doing nothing while we wait for some cosmic answer isn’t usually very effective. But what should we be doing when we’re waiting or wondering what our calling is?
For the times when you are questioning what the right direction is, here is a different kind of checklist to try. It’s from a book by Rick Jarow called Creating the Work You Love. I have to be honest, I didn’t finish reading this book because I couldn’t relate to most of it, but I did like how he presented his idea of standing TALL.
Following your calling requires Standing TALL: Trust, Ask, Listen, Live.
Trust. Trust is the first and most important part of calling. Are you willing to trust your life to your Caller and trust the call you hear? Are you willing to wait for direction, and move forward trusting for the next steps to appear?
Ask. Jarow makes a good point that, “Often we wait for answers to drop down from heaven, when really the gift is being offered to us through the presence of another.” Like we’ve talked about before, calling takes place in community. Ask for counsel from those close to you! Be aware of what others have to offer you and what you offer them.
Listen. Jarow says “to listen is to acknowledge the possibility of a new way.” Sometimes we don’t hear because we’re not actually open to new ideas or opportunities. Maybe we’re waiting for the answer we want and missing the answer we’re being given.
Live. It’s not sit, or wait or stall. Keep living your life with new awareness. Os Guinness writes that “Calling transforms our understanding of commonplace things, drudgery done for God is lifted and changed.” We tend to think we’re waiting for a major calling, some huge mission, so in the meantime, we do nothing. Consider though Mother Teresa’s words, “I don’t do big things, I do small things with big love.” All of us can start with small things.
In a sense, calling is more about having an attitude of openness, listening to prompts and opportunities in the moment, and taking action in the small things that present themselves.
What questions should you be asking about your life? What part of standing TALL do you need to try?