One of the greatest challenges for the church today is the re-integration of the sacred and the secular. Too many people live with the false belief that their Monday through Saturday lives are less important to God than their life on Sunday—especially Sunday morning. Too many people think that only pastors and missionaries and worship leaders have a calling from God.
This is simply not true. Every human being has a calling from God. In fact, every person has a sacred calling. Why? Because every human being has been called by God to steward the world and to bring healing and wholeness into the world.
A helpful way to think about your calling is to think of it as two distinct, yet totally integrated callings—your primary calling and your secondary calling.
Our primary calling is to be in relationship with the One who calls us. It is the calling of every human being that has ever lived.
We see this primary calling right from creation. As soon as human beings are created, they enter into relationship with the God who created them. The very act of creation itself has relational overtones; God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:6). There is deep connection—an exchange of breath—between Creator and creation right from the beginning.
When sin enters the story, it becomes clear that both God and humanity are in agony over their broken relationship. Adam and Eve hide in shame as God cries out, “Where are you?!”
It is to this relationship between Creator and creation—between Caller and called—that we are invited. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” And Jesus himself calls us to himself: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The call to be in relationship with God our Creator is our primary calling. Notice the verb in that last statement. The call is to be in relationship with God. Our primary calling has to do with who we are.
Our secondary calling has to do more with what we do. It is the call to participate with God in stewarding this world.
In Genesis 2, we are told that as God created the world, “there was no one to work the ground” (Genesis 2:5). There was no one to join God in realizing God’s desire for creation. So God created a human being and “put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
This is our secondary calling: to participate with God in caring for the world God has made. We do this through the various ways God calls us—as teachers, plumbers, electricians, hair stylists, political leaders, students, retirees, moms, dads—and even as pastors and missionaries.
Every secondary calling is sacred because through our calling we participate with God to bring healing and wholeness into the world. This is why Paul can say, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Living into Both Callings
Our primary calling is to be in relationship with the Caller. Our secondary calling is to participate with God in stewarding, blessing, and healing this world. And while this is the calling of every human being that has ever lived, the way we live it out is unique to each individual.
As leaders in God’s church, may we not only affirm people in their unique callings, but help them live into their callings to their fullest.