God’s calling to missions is not authoritative the way the
Scriptures are. Your calling is never beyond question. You
can’t claim it to others the way you quote Scripture to them.
Nevertheless our calling can be profoundly and durably sure in
our own heart. It is the work of God to bring our heart to a
point of conviction that, all things considered-including
Scripture-this path is the path of obedience. The conviction is
not infallible. But when it is of God, it brings peace.
How does God waken such a calling? I will suggest ten means
that he uses. Only one of these is infallible-the Bible. All the
others are relative. They are not absolutely decisive in your
leading. They are important. But any of them can be
overridden by the others. Various combinations of these are
the fuel God uses to drive the engine of his calling in your life.
1. Above all, know your Bible and saturate your mind with it.
The Bible shapes our minds for mission durability (Psalm
1:1-3), and makes us burn for Christ (Luke 24:32).
2. Know your gifts and know yourself.
Every Christian has gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Knowing them
shapes your convictions about your calling. And knowing
yourself (as Paul exemplifies in Romans 7:15-24) deepens
your sense of fitness for various ministries. (Keep in mind that
this can be overridden by other facts!)
3. Ponder the need of the world.
The Christian heart of love is drawn by perceived needs,
whether near or far. Therefore God uses what we know to
awaken the measure of our desire that pushes us over the
edge of commitment (Matthew 9:36-38).
4. Read missionary biography and missionary frontline
Clearly the Bible treats heroes of the faith as divinely
appointed inspirations for the awakening of vision and ministry
(Hebrews 13:7). “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so
great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
5. Inquire of your soul, “Where are you burdened for others?”
God sends and seeks the burden for lost people. Jesus carried
such a burden: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! . . . How often
would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers
her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:33-34). This burden was
essential to his calling. What is your burden?
6. Know your circumstances.
Parents, health, houses, lands, children, age, etc. All of them
matter in our calling, but none of them is decisive. They can
all be overridden. “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who
has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or
children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not
receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers
and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with
persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark
7. Pray for God to throw you where you can be best used for
his glory.
I say “throw” because in Matthew 9:38 that is the literal
meaning: “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to throw
out laborers into his harvest.” The point is pray! Ask God to
use you to the fullest for his glory. “If any of you lacks
wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without
reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
8. Do not neglect passionate, Christ-exalting, corporate
The most important missionary calling that ever happened
took place in corporate worship: “While they were worshiping
the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me
Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called
them'” (Acts 13:2).
9. Listen humbly to the spiritual people in your life.
They not only confirm your gifts. They are the instruments of
God to awaken in you possibilities and joys of missionary
service that you never dreamed (2 Timothy 1:5-7).
10. Cultivate absolute surrender of all you are and have to
This is the person that God leads to the greatest fruitfulness
of life. Woe to the person who tries to be a half-Christian and
never says from the heart: “I renounce everything for you, Lord
Jesus. I am willing to go anywhere and do anything at any
cost, if you will go with me be my everlasting joy.”
This is why Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not
hate his own father and mother and wife and children and
brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be
my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come
after me cannot be my disciple. . . . Therefore, any one of you
who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my
disciple” (Luke 14:26-27, 33).


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