What’s your Calling?

For the past several years, the theme of Calling has been very dear to me. I have increasingly come to see that it is a crucial truth for escaping the humdrum of modern life. As such, I am always on the lookout for books which help to clarify what it’s all about and provide much-needed guidance to all who are seeking to uncover the mystery. And, lately, I read Os Guinness’s masterpiece on the subject. It is at once thorough and lively, learned and interesting, with a continual focus on the Saviour who obediently surrendered to his Father’s call. His book is a delight to read and a feast to relish. I can do little more than offer his points on calling which he carefully develops throughout the book and hope they stimulate you to get the book for yourself and devour its nutrients.


  • Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.
  • When something more than human seeking is needed if seeking is to be satisfied, then calling means that seekers themselves are sought.
  • The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself.
  • Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.the call
  • God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.
  • A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others – the Audience of One.
  • God’s calling is the key to igniting a passion for the deepest growth and highest heroism in life.
  • The notion of calling is vital to the modern search for a basis for moral responsibility and to an understanding of ethics itself.
  • The call of Jesus is personal but not purely individual; Jesus summons his followers not only to an individual calling but also to a corporate calling.
  • Calling reminds Christians ceaselessly that, far from having arrived, a Christian is someone who in this life is always on the road as “a follower of Christ” and a follower of “the Way”.
  • The reverse side of calling is the temptation of conceit.
  • The truth of calling touches closely on the link between giftedness and desire and the almost inescapable temptation of envy.
  • Calling, which played a key role in the rise of modern capitalism, is one of the few truths capable of guiding and restraining it now.
  • Calling is the best antidote to the deadly sin of sloth.
  • Calling directly counters the great modern pressure towards secularization because the call of Jesus includes a summons to the exercise of the spiritual disciplines and the experience of supernatural realities.
  • Calling directly counters the great modern pressure toward privatization because of its insistence that Jesus Christ is Lord of every sphere of life.

Book Review: Business as Mission by Michael R. Baer

Can Business be more than an enterprise for the generation of profit? Is there a higher purpose to this human activity?

This book argues that there is.

Business as Mission, according to the author, is an attempt to “explore how companies can align with God’s purpose and bring him glory.” This journey flows from the realization that there are no independent compartments in our Business as Missionlives. Every aspect, including business, is just a part of one unified story being written by God. As such it is must be practiced in a way that glorifies Him. All Christians are called to a project of seamless integration of business and mission; the separation of sacred and secular is futile. Here we discern the sweet idea of Abraham Kuyper.

He begins with a clarification – Christian business vs Kingdom business.

Christian business he understands to be either a business that is owned by a Christian, involved in a ‘Christian’ activity, or one managed by biblical principles. A Kingdom business, however, goes much further. It is a business that is ‘specifically, consciously, clearly and intentionally connected to the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in this world.’ Such a business has 4 vital characteristics:

  • It is vocational
  • It is intentional
  • It is relational
  • It is operational

These features constitute the major divisions of the book.

A Kingdom business is Vocational

Business has to be seen as a legitimate calling from God. We need to see that business is a God-given mechanism for the provision of human needs, just as other social units like family or government serve other ends. It fulfills the two purposes of provision and relationship. Jeff Van Duzer, Provost of the Seattle Pacific University, has a similar idea of the ‘mission statement’ of business, which he described as follows:

  1. Business exists to create opportunities for individuals to express aspects of their God-given identity in meaningful and creative work.
  2. Business exists in order to produce goods and services that would enable the community to flourish.

He rightly identifies the sacred-secular dichotomy as a major stumbling block for most Christians. We have grown up believing that to be spiritual is to be immersed in ‘Church’ work. We thereby fail to see all other areas of life as equally sacred. The late Dallas Willard was quoted to that effect:

 ‘There is truly no division between sacred and secular except what we have created, And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and to the cause of Christ. Holy people must stop going into “church work” as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work.’

And the author brilliantly concludes: “All of life is sacred for the Christian, and the realization of that truth sets us free to serve God in all aspects of our existence.” Business is a high calling from God.

A Kingdom Business is Intentional

Every Business has a unique purpose which has to be discovered and lived out. It must identify its role in God’s drama of kingdom history and act it diligently. A kingdom business is deliberate about advancing God’s kingdom. While it recognizes that business is a valid calling from God, it will also seek to affect the world for Christ. Such a business looks beyond profit; it uses its operation as an avenue to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. Michael Baer gives several examples of Christians who started business as a means of witnessing to Christ. I read the story of Mira, a young Christian lady from Central Asia, who launched a handcraft manufacturing business. By gathering other young women into her home as employees, she created an informal network for passing across the message of Christ. We should creatively develop avenues for such interactions with our world.

How can we identify the unique kingdom role for our business? The author recommends a six-point step that should help in this regard:

    1. Pray
    2. Read and meditate on scripture
    3. Meet and interact with others who have discovered their kingdom purpose
    4. Expose yourself to what God is doing in the world
    5. Keep a journal
    6. Write a kingdom impact statement

As we practice this, our purpose becomes clearer and then we can run with it.

Kingdom Business is Relational

Business is about relationships, and it is increasingly evident in our modern world. The rise in importance of Customer Relationship Management as an aspect of business bears this out. Thus a Kingdom Business has better resources for fulfilling this objective. He has the example of God himself, the revelation in the Bible and the help of the Holy Spirit. According to the author, not only are relationships fundamental to life, they provide excellent kingdom opportunities. He writes:

“History , scripture , and even our own personal experience demonstrates that God’s primary conduit for expresing Himself in the world is through relationships. The influence of the gospel does not come through organizations but comes through human interaction, through a people-to-people process.”

This is true. Most conversions have to do with someone bearing witness to the gospel through personal conversation or through godly character. I was brought to Christ through the faithful witness of an older brother. So the role of relationships is critical.

Every business is about relationships in diverse forms: Shareholders, Employees, Customers, Vendors, etc. For a kingdom-minded business, these are opportunities for advancing the kingdom. We have to discern the stage the individual is on the ‘Kingdom continuum’ and know what is the appropriate form our relating should take. For instance, a matured Christian who happens to be a Customer will not require the same kind of ministry as a Vendor who is yet unaware of the gospel.

The obligation to develop relationships derives from the command to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is really what relationships are about – loving others just as Christ has loved us.

A Kingdom Business is Operational

Finally, a business has to be efficient.It is not enough to treat people right or to understand that business is pleasing to God, we need to strive for excellence in all the operations of the business. He identifies several authors whom I have also found helpful in this regard, such as Tom Peters, Jim Collins, and Peter Drucker. Several principles could be mined from their writings on how to achieve excellence in the operations of any organization. These would include: Developing a ‘core ideology’, setting bigger-than-life-goals (or BHAGs as Jim Collins calls them), and getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off it).

An essential aspect of a kingdom business’ operational excellence is a strong ethical culture. Several ethical systems have been devised, ranging from Pragmatism to Relativism. But these all explicitly or indirectly deny the absolute nature of truth. The business world harbours greed, selfishness, and lust, but it is the role of kingdom businesses to bring light into this vital sphere.

He concludes with directives for bringing this vision to life in our various businesses.

This book is a helpful guide in a most crucial sector of human society. For, as the author notes in the epilogue, “Companies, and not countries, will have the greatest impact in our world in the future”.

Book Review: Humility, by C.J.Mahaney

We are called to service. But we cannot serve others with pride. It will always get in the way of true service. For this reason, an essential attribute or quality we must cultivate is humility. Below is my review of a helpful book on this topic.

This book introduces us to the dangers of pride and guides us to the scriptural path for humility - cj mahaneygrowth in humility. The author, a pastor of an American congregation for almost three decades, discusses the promise of humility, the perils of pride, and the nature of true greatness.

There are some practical recommendations given for cultivating humility. Of these I note the following:

  1. Keep your eyes on the cross . The cross demolishes our pride. It is a sign and symbol of our helplessness. We have been so racked by sin that it took God himself to come down and rescue us. Where then is boasting?
  2. Get up from bed in the morning acknowledging your dependence on God. ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). You are so in need of God even for the ability to sit in the bath tub. Recognize this truth and let it humble you.
  3. Let your first words be expressions of  thanksgiving. Gratitude for God’s mercies should characterize our hearts throughout the day.
  4. Spend time daily in prayer, worship and study of the scriptures. This will not only foster dependence on God but will aid in sanctifying us within.
  5. The apostle Peter asks us to cast our cares on God because he cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). So bring all your concerns to God. Quit trusting in your own strength.
  6. End your day by recognizing that God kept you and allowed you to accomplish all that you did. It was not your wisdom or skill that saw you through. No. It was really God. Give him the glory.
  7. Study the following regularly:
    • God’s attributes – this will reveal to you how huge and awesome your God really is.
    • The nature of sin – you’ll get to know how corrupt our hearts really are and how desperately we need God’s help.
    • The doctrines of Grace – see how redemption  was designed to  exalt God and humble man. Seriously, no believer can take credit for his own salvation.  From predestination all the way to glorification, it is all through grace and all of God (Rom. 8:30).
  8. Allow others to correct you. Invite honest feedback from christian friends and family. Others may readily  notice what you fail to observe. As the author wrote, “On our own, you and I will never develop a competency for recognizing our sin. We’ll always need help.”(p.133)
  9. Learn to respond humbly to trials. Afflictions and suffering promote humility as they compel us to look up to the One who understands everything. The prophet Habakkuk learnt this important lesson. He began his prophecy with a complaint (Hab.1:2), but towards the end of the book he could confidently say:

    “Though the fig should not blossom…
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (3:17-18).

  10. Finally, laugh at yourself often. In a conference message delivered some years ago, D. A.  Carson recalled how his wife would often laugh at the title of one of his books –  Justification and Variegated Nomism! And then he advised: “Take your work seriously but not yourself.”

Do you still want to cultivate humility?

Get the book. Read it. Apply it.