"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." - Carl Sandburg
Discovering and living your calling is an adventure. Responding to God's call to fulfill your mission in life will require you to journey beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Most people are entrenched in their comfort zones which contain familiar people, places, things and habits. They tend to resist anything that threatens the status quo-like Jesus' calling on their lives. He never seemed to hesitate telling people to leave their familiar lives for the unfamiliar path of following him.
Trapped by the Comfort Zone
We are so easily entrapped by our comfort zone. Many of us get scared when we even think about making changes in our lives. Uncomfortable with the prospect of feeling anxious, we may resist even considering pushing out the boundaries of our comfort zones. As we cling tenaciously to the known, we choose familiarity over risk. The problem with choosing to stay in our comfort zones is that it can come with a terrible price tag-one with eternal consequences.
Each time we blockade ourselves further within our comfort zone, it becomes more difficult to hear God's callings in our lives. Living your calling is possible only when you are willing to be obedient to God's voice and risk stepping out to follow Jesus. Living the adventure of your calling requires courage, resourcefulness and willingness to confront new and unfamiliar challenges.
Confronting the "Calling Blockers"
Getting stuck in your comfort zone can be a sign that you have come up against a "calling blocker" in your journey. Calling blockers are things that get in the way of your seeing who you have been created to be, finding out what you are gifted and called to do, and/or taking the needed actions to live your calling. Some of the most powerful calling blockers are fear, money, busyness, negative thinking, childhood wounds, and isolation from others. (Our book, Live Your Calling discusses each of these at length.)
We all encounter potential calling blockers that can get us stuck or "off-track" on our journey to discern and live our calling. They can keep us trapped in a life that is far less than the one God intends for us. What differentiates those who are successful in discovering and living their calling from those who are not is the ability to overcome the "calling blockers."
There can be many indicators that a calling blocker may be at work in one's life. For example, sometimes individuals find that they are unable to discern the "puzzle pieces" of their design. They simply cannot identify which skills they enjoy using or what their interests are. They don't know what to do to clear the fog that envelops their God-given design.
Others enthusiastically complete assessment inventories and identify the key components of their design, but have difficulty envisioning themselves doing something new. They therefore resist exploring options of how they might use their gifts in different career paths or ministries. They procrastinate to the point of avoidance or contemplate taking action when faced with specific action steps to investigate possibilities. They find themselves feeling too overwhelmed, confused or anxious to continue.
Some people develop a list of career options that they have investigated and think could be a good fit. When the time comes to make a decision, however, they freeze. They become mired in indecisiveness, unable to bring themselves to making a choice. Still others complete the steps all the way through to making decisions and developing an action plan. They seem excited about their goals. They unexpectedly discover, however, that they are unable to make themselves actually take the action steps outlined in their action plan. They become skilled avoiders and procrastinators, all the while feeling upset with themselves and wondering why they can't seem to move forward with the steps that will change their lives and bring them what they really want.
The most common indicator that people are wrestling with calling blockers is resistance to following through on what they believe God is calling them to do. Often, they try to rationalize or re-shape God's summons: "He couldn't really want me to do that. It's too much of a change. Instead, I could stay where I am and do that on the side. Or maybe I'll do it sometime later when things are different in my life."
Catalysts for Overcoming Your Calling Blockers
Those who successfully discover and live their calling have learned how to recognize and overcome their own individual calling blockers. To live your calling, you must master yourself. "Calling catalysts" are strategies for overcoming and transforming those barriers so that you can experience the life God created you to live.
Calling catalysts for overcoming the calling blocker of fear include learning to break a goal into bite-sized, "doable" steps; asking for help from others; and, practicing "biblical affirmations," which are Scripture verses which embed God's truth in your mind and heart. Review and memorize verses such as Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength," and 2 Timothy 1:7 (paraphrased), God has not given me a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. The more you focus on your fears, the less you focus on God; the more you focus on God, the less you focus on your fear!
As you seek to discern your calling, ask the Lord to help you see any calling blockers that may be hindering you in becoming the person He created you to be and doing the things He designed you to do. Ask Him to give you the courage to change and the power to do so. You are not alone in the journey of discovering and living your calling, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). As you overcome the calling blockers you encounter and complete the journey to which God calls you, you will one day hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!"
Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.
Would you like professional assistance in overcoming your "calling blockers" and discover the work you were designed to do? Find out about our career coaching services and how you can benefit from working with Kevin or Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors and Career & Life Calling Coaches.