How do we cultivate calling in each stage of life?
Good question. Your question rightly assumes that calling is not reduced to a paid employment. Too often we confuse God’s calling for our lives to a paid vocation. Therefore, there is a tendency to think that questions of discovering our calling is only relevant to younger people at the start of their careers. I believe calling is bigger than that.
I like how the Christian writer Frederick Buechner puts it: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In other words, fulfilling your calling is not only doing something that gives you joy. It should also be directed at helping to meet something our world needs. A musician, for instance, could be meeting our hunger for musical beauty that inspires joy or emotions. As Christians, we should have an understanding of calling that goes beyond simply self-fulfillment or social advancement toward joining God’s mission of shalom-making.
Different life stages present different opportunities. Whatever our stage of life, we should prayerfully examine our deep passions as well as our gifts, asking how we can apply them to areas of need in God’s world. Sometimes the same passions and gifts can be channeled to different mission fields, so to speak, as one grows older and more horizons open up before you.
For instance, my passion for God’s Word and God’s mission plus my gifts of writing and teaching were formerly employed in campus ministry for 15 years. But now, God has called me to use those same gifts and passions in service of the denomination through The Banner. I am still seeking to meet the world’s need for God’s truths, but in a different mission field. When I retire, I suspect I will still be using my gifts and joys, but maybe applied to a different mission field.