Expanding the Definition of Calling

Many Christians think of “calling” as what God wants them to do for their career or ministry. They may spend years pursuing degrees and training to following the direction they feel God is guiding them to; at the same time, they neglect to devote time and energies to pursuing whether or not God has called them to get married.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he spends a great deal of time focusing on relationships between men and women. In 1 Corinthians 7:17, he defines calling in regards to marriage or singleness: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches” (ESV).   

Here Paul says whether people get married or remain single, each is an assignment from God.  He further clarifies that singleness is a “gift” which few people have, and yet is a very special calling. If you are single, answering this question about your relational calling is  a critical aspect of God’s overall calling on your life.  

Below are a series of questions you can go through as you explore your calling and ask God to lead you and those who are praying with you through this topic:

  • How does it change your view of marriage and singleness by defining each one as a calling?
  • Do you think you are called to be married or single? You might want to read and pray through 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, 7:1-40.

How Calling is Confirmed

One of the things the Bible does NOT teach is that people just get internal calling directly from God and that settles the matter.  A person may first get a sense of calling personally from God, but it gets recognized and affirmed in community. For example, Paul received his initial call as an apostle in Acts 9, and later was sent out by a group of believers in Acts 13:1-3.

Others see and recognize God’s calling on our lives and confirm that calling. Paul does not have much good to say about self-called apostles (such as in 2 Corinthians 10:12 and Galatians 2:1-9), as God created us to rely on one another as we seek God for guidance together. When it comes to such an important aspect of our lives as marriage, it is important that you seek this answer with others who care about you and know you well.

  • Who are the people in your community who can confirm your calling to marriage or singleness?  
  • How have you sought this confirmation from them? (And if you haven’t, how can you?)
  • If you feel you know your calling, how has this calling been confirmed?

Pursuing your Calling

The next step after getting a sense of your calling is to pursue the next steps. How is your calling to singleness or being married impacting what you are doing?  In other words, what are you doing to pursue your calling?

  • If you are uncertain about your calling, what can you do now to pursue confirmation?
  • Are you putting more energy into pursuing something else less important than this calling? If so, why?

More than anything else, invite God into this conversation! You can choose to commit this aspect of your life into His care as you seek prayer and counsel from others as you pursue this calling.

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