6. Life and Calling: Article Series

Life and Calling: The Early Days in the Field

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. Proverbs 24: 27

 

Perhaps the most glaring achievement for students in post-secondary education is the successful acquisition of a degree within a chosen field of study (vocation and calling)—particularly one that is properly aligned with the gifts (strengths) of the student. Yet, the acquisition of a degree is by no means the culminating act that qualifies one for embarking upon life’s calling and all of its attendant responsibilities: You must “make it fit for thyself in the field.”

Make no mistake, obtaining a degree is a significant marker; however, the work of proving one’s efforts within the field—and doing so before taking on significant responsibilities involving others—is where “commencement” really happens. For upon the “proving grounds” of a chosen field of labour (vocation and calling) are many important lessons that will ultimately prepare you for undertaking life-long responsibilities that will impact others.

1. You learn the all-important principle of overcoming: All too often, precious young men and women lay claim to the wonderful calls upon their lives whether it be in ministerial vocations or equally sacred vocational tasks in other spheres of life; however, many have failed to successfully overcome any trials and difficulties prior to seeking to lead others. Demonstrating a proven ability to overcome difficult circumstances—and preferably more than one—is infinitely more impactful than merely communicating the stories of others who have overcome.  (If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? Jeremiah 12:5)

2. You learn the principle of stewardship. Who would’ve thought that the worldly would be commended for their ability to rightly utilize money to achieve particular purposes? Yet, this is precisely the idea in the remarks, ” […] the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8)” The unjust steward having been dismissed by his employer was wise enough to use his employ, his authority and the money under his stewardship to secure him a place so that he would not be without future employment. He made friends with these material possessions and relied upon these to please his future employers who greatly appreciated those measures that he had taken on their behalf. He is deemed wiser than the children of light, because unlike the unjust steward, many professors of light have not learned to successfully negotiate and navigate life in a manner that is practically profitable, whether it be in the faith or without the faith. (And if ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? Luke 16:11)

3. You learn the principle of “seed time and harvest”. Unfortunately, there is no better preparation for monumental tasks and callings than time and patience.  Many would be the challenges, dangers and hostile persons and events rising against us if we were to begin building prematurely and speedily. For if we are not strong enough, wise enough, mature enough or increased enough to handle life’s awesome opportunities—and attendant responsibilities—such opportunities would be unnecessarily wasted when placed within our care. While we should never ask whether we will one day assume great responsibilities—this is a foregone conclusion in the affirmative—we might rightly question whether we are presently mature enough. (And he who receives the word with an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keeps it, and brings it forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:15)

4. You learn to prove your own worth and gain confidence from your own individual labors. One final way of discerning whether we are in lockstep with the pursuit of our calling—and the future responsibilities that will attend to them—is to determine whether what we are currently doing is good and profitable. For when our gifts truly accompany our callings, we will experience increasing fruitfulness that we will be able to test and prove by pointing to our past labors that will gradually increase into greater labors. (For precept must be upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little. Isaiah 28:10)

You can contact Dr. Johnson at dr.brianjohnson73@gmail.com;

You can follow Dr. Johnson on twitter @DrBrianJohnson1

As you cultivate your strengths in the unique field of labor you have been assigned and called to, which of the aforementioned principles should you devote more time to?

quiet

Life and Calling (Part 2): Learn to Be Quiet

“And that ye study to be quiet”    -1 Thess 4:11

Contrary to many popular notions, the most charismatic, most talkative, most visible and most opinionated person is often not the most substantive leader. In fact, he or she is often the most wanting in several significant ways. A clear and obvious presumption that most of us have about leadership is that a leader has first achieved personal mastery, stewardship and leadership over himself or herself prior to assuming mastery, stewardship and leadership over others. And if the person who has either assumed a leadership role or has been chosen for leadership has not gained self-mastery, it will become painfully obvious to those whom he or she is leading.

The pathway toward personal mastery, which should occur well before assuming mastery over others is—more often than not—cloaked in solitude and obscurity, far away from the limelight, in the depths of quietness. As you learn to be quiet, you develop four important qualities that are all-important for successful leadership:

1. Deep and Profound Humility

It is within quietness that we are most introspective about our personal strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness and self-discovery lie at the very heart of humility, because humility comes when one arrives at the plain recognition that he or she does not (nor ever will) possess all of the talent that accomplishing a large task requires; simply put, accomplishing large tasks necessarily require others. Deep and profound humility in leadership is exhibited when one learns to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of others. This understanding leads to one of the most important facets in leadership: All people understand and show favor to the leader who recognizes that his or her condition is very much like everyone else’s.

“He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; And what doth the LORD require of thee, But to do justly, and to love mercy, And to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).

2. The Longer You Wait, the Weightier Your Word

In quietude you become a skillful listener. There are too few leaders who have acquired the skill (and accompanying power) of being a good listener. And this is largely owing to forsaking the value of being quiet. The virtue of listening to all sides before speaking is often extolled, but it is rarely practiced. Listening to the opinions of others—whether they share your premises or not—informs and empowers your opinion. Therefore, how much weightier will be your opinion if you speak last (and having had the opportunity to hear first) than someone who speaks first (and has not had the opportunity to hear others)?

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him,” Proverbs 18:17

“[L]et every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

3. You Become Patient

Remaining quiet during personal trials ingrains the necessary patience for leading others. Consider the last time you achieved a goal only after enduring some difficulty. While you were certainly joyous at the outcome, you also discovered that there was some enduring value in the process that still serves you to this day. The process of enduring trials and tribulations worked within you a patience that results in the kind of maturity (perfect, entire and whole) that will allow you to demonstrate and model to those within your charge the kind of leadership that knows, understands and appreciates that trials and difficulties can not only be endured but also overcome.

“Therefore we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed,” Romans 5:3-4; “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults” (Lamentations 3:27-30).

4. You Gain Wisdom

Within quietness wisdom is found. True wisdom is like dew. It is uncontaminated; it falls silently (often unnoticed); it is easily absorbed by the earth and its vegetation; it often appears in the absence of rain and its effect is demonstrated upon parched lands in need of assistance with the production of fruit; it is no respecter of persons (for it blankets and falls upon everything and everyone underneath it); and similar to snowflakes, every drop of dew has its own distinctive character that is unchangeable in nature, rife with sincerity, authenticity and simplicity.

Oh, how this is true of the wisdom that is gained after quiet deliberation. The person who is inclined to reserve judgment and opinion until after he or she has given thorough and patient consideration to a particular matter will be the most likely possessor of this wisdom.

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: And he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 1:19).

As you “learn to be quiet,” which of the aforementioned qualities will you seek to develop first?

You can contact Dr. Johnson at dr.brianjohnson73@gmail.com;

You can follow Dr. Johnson on twitter @DrBrianJohnson1

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