When Your Calling Doesn't Make Sense

When I was in my early twenties, I sat down for a job interview with a woman I esteemed. I had never met her before, but her husband was a well-known pastor and writer, and they were both accomplished leaders. I was interviewing for a position at her church, and I couldn’t have been more intimidated. She seemed like she had it all together. She was smart, talented, and in control.

I, on the other hand, felt lost. I knew I was called to ministry, but I couldn’t find the right fit. I didn’t know where God was leading me, or why it was taking so long. My life seemed a perfect contrast with the woman sitting across from me, and I was sure she could tell. I pretended to be confident, but I was wearing a cotton blouse in the middle of summer, and my steadily growing sweat stains betrayed my attempts to play it cool.

She was a real leader. I was mess.

Looking back, it’s easy to sort out the truth from the lies. I knew I was called to leadership, but I was also very confused. Things hadn’t fallen into place like I thought they would. My doubt came not from a lack of ability, but from a lack of clarity. I didn’t know where God was leading me, in contrast with the woman interviewing me, who clearly did.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Last year I talked to women all over the country about calling. How were they called? How did they know it was God? What were their hopes and fears? What I heard, over and over again, was this:

“I am afraid I won’t make any money.”

“Who is going to hire me?”

“No one will care if I earn this degree.”

“My dream isn’t practical.”

“My calling doesn’t make any sense.”

If you’re like me, the phrase “women in leadership” conjures up images like the woman who interviewed me: Confident and collected. Together.

However my conversations with aspiring leaders tell a different story. Calling isn’t always clear. It doesn’t always make sense. On the front end, there is often less confidence than doubt, and more questions than answers.

I don’t know if that woman ever questioned her call, but most of us do at some time or another. If that’s you, if you know God is calling you to something that doesn’t make any sense, I want you to know two things:

First, you are not alone. There are countless aspiring leaders, all around the world, who think their callings are impractical too.

Second, it’s no wonder you feel that way, because you are following an impractical God. The word “practical” does not appear anywhere in the Bible, and I suspect there’s a reason for that. While Scripture does teach us to be wise, it does not teach us to be practical. That’s because “practical” is a human-centered approach. It’s based on the limited knowledge we have, only that which we can see and know.

Faith, on the other hand, calls us to more than “practical.” It challenges us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). Faith says there is more to the story than logic, which means we don’t need clarity so much as courage.

The Bible does not tell stories of a practical God. What it does tell is the story of a God who makes a way, even when there is no way. God parted the Red Sea. He made barren women fertile. He made blind men see. He even bridged an infinite divide between humanity and Himself. God has a long history of leading his people into impractical, impossible situations—where His glory shines brightest—and He is still beckoning us to follow now.

There is a powerful scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indiana navigates a series of “tests” in his quest for the Holy Grail. Along the way, his path dead-ends at a chasm that is too wide and deep to cross. He stares at the sheer drop, then opens his map for a clue: a “leap of faith.” Despite his fear, Indiana raises one foot, closes his eyes, and falls forward into the gulf. Suddenly, his foot hits solid ground. He opens his eyes, looks up, and realizes a path has appeared before him.

For many of us, calling is like that. It doesn’t make any sense, and it might even seem crazy. Even so, God is asking you to pick up one foot and take a step forward. Follow the God who makes a way where there is no way. He will put ground beneath your feet, and make your path straight. It might not be practical, but neither is our God.

Sharon Hodde Miller

Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor's wife, and mom of two boys. She recently completed her Ph.D, which focused on cultivating the gifts of women in the church. Sharon is a regular contributor to Her.meneutics and connect with her Twitter.

Join the discussion

Zelda-Mae January 25, 2016 at 8:12am

He will always find a way.
His timing is not ours, hard as that is to accept.
His timing is perfect, though.
And we will be stronger because of this process.
I know because he's shown me, over and over again.

Zelda-Mae January 24, 2016 at 2:54am

He will always find a way.
His timing is not ours, hard as that is to accept.
His timing is perfect, though.
And we will be stronger because of this process.
I know because he's shown me, over and over again.

Zelda-Mae January 23, 2016 at 9:55am

He will always find a way.
His timing is not ours, hard as that is to accept.
His timing is perfect, though.
And we will be stronger because of this process.
I know because he's shown me, over and over again.

Civilla January 18, 2016 at 6:52am

To say this was a timely article would be an understatement. Glad to know I have not completely lost my mind. Sorry, but that's how it feels sometimes. Thanks for this great reminder that God knows what He is doing even when things seem really difficult and crazy; but you feel this thing deep within that says 'this is what you're supposed to be doing.'

Tricia January 16, 2016 at 2:12am

I really enjoyed this article this morning as it was very timely for me. I also had no problem at all with the labeling "pastor's wife."

Leona January 14, 2016 at 11:54pm

Thank you, this article is uplifting.

Margaret January 12, 2016 at 1:10am

Great read to start my week! "We don't need clarity so much as courage."

Michelle January 11, 2016 at 1:29am

Oh how this post ministered to my heart. The list of reasons why I couldn't possible accomplish my call into ministry is long and at first glacé defeating. Then I open the word and a stirring takes place in my soul, my heart longs to teach, speak and write about the goodness of our God. My desire to encourage and inspire others to love the life they were gifted and live it well, pushes all those doubts aside. It is helpful and comforting to know that I am not alone. While my vision may be blurred at times I serve a God who can make the blind see and I know the answer to His promises are "yes and Amen."

Jackie January 10, 2016 at 2:22pm

Thank you so much for this timely article. I needed it.

Elena January 10, 2016 at 2:15pm

Jessica, I felt the same way. I found "pastor's wife" undermining, as if they are a property of something more important than what they are. What would we say about a woman whose husband is not a pastor but a CEO, a scientist or a janitor? Why not just say "her husband is a pastor"? That's what I would find more fitting for a movement/publication that's there to liberate woman away from feeling like they are someone's property or living in someone's shadow.

Tiffany Crosby January 10, 2016 at 1:13pm

I questioned my calling for quite some time because it didn't seem to fit nice and neatly into a check box. It wasn't a senior pastor or associate pastor or missionary role. It was a calling the the marketplace to disciple marketplace leaders. Funny that 5 years after receiving that call, I've begun to see many with the same calling and suddenly, it doesn't seem so out of place.

Mandi January 10, 2016 at 7:14am

I felt a very clear call to move to another nation just over 2 years ago. I had previously lived in this nation but due to visa constraints had to move back to my home country even though I had a prophetic word that God had established me in this nation. This was a very confusing and difficult time in my life but God supernaturally opened up the door for me to return several years later and Ihave been back for just over a year. I am on a work visa, which will ultimately and God willing, give me indefinite leave to remain/citizenship, however, I work for a leader who is very abusive, controlling and manipulative and who has mistreated me in so many appalling ways in the past year. it was vey exciting and miraculous to see how God opened this door again for which I am truly grateful but very difficult to be under such a harsh and abusive Boss/leadership. The call does not seem to make sense "in the natural" anymore and I just have to trust God for his grace as my visa is tied to my current position and I see no way out.........BUT GOD!!! Thanks for this article. A very good read.

Stephanie LaCapra January 10, 2016 at 6:54am

I'm an artist and the 'calling' to be a creative can be so daunting - so many options, lack of resources, lack of vision and clarity, jealousy of other artist's giftings and the list goes on. But I know at this point in my life I must take the road less traveled for the rest of my life. I don't have the answers, more than anything my months, weeks, days, hours and even minutes make no sense. That is why I'm so grateful for the cross and this amazing article - thank you for confirming I'm on the right path even if it's cloudy and full of a ton of question marks. All I can say and to others that may be creatives is the best is yet to come, keep working hard, be persistent, let every 'no' be a 'yes' and to fight for your fellow artists along the journey. It's a hard one - but I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you again for enlightening me and giving me the kick and the butt I need to not doubt who I am in Christ. Blessings to you, your ministry, and family!

Loredana Rodríguez January 10, 2016 at 2:09am

My call to Eurpoe seems no make sense at this moment. It's not practical!!! . The currency, the season..etc,etc....but God gave me and open door in that zone. So My sending church and I we need more courage. It's a call, no a Job and people needs to know about JesusChrist. He will make a path.

Loredana Rodríguez January 10, 2016 at 2:09am

My call to Eurpoe seems no make sense at this moment. It's not practical!!! . The currency, the season..etc,etc....but God gave me and open door in that zone. So My sending church and I we need more courage. It's a call, no a Job and people needs to know about JesusChrist. He will make a path.

Lorraine Glendining January 10, 2016 at 1:57am

Inspirational reading.Just a reminder that God does not call without equipping and also to remember without inviting Jesus into everything in my life and acknowledging that I cannot do it without Him is a devine recipe for lifelong success in whatever area I am called to.

L J January 10, 2016 at 1:31am

This is great. I believe the same, God makes a way, where practically it doesn't make sense. I'm paying back student loans (as many students are these days) and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My bro who is my financial advisor has given me a strict budget to follow. But recently I was invited on my first missions trip to the country I love that rarely recieved missionaries. I told my bro im going and he was mad I was spending money he thought I should put towards my loans. I said no it's ok, this is an opportunity I've been waiting for, I'm not going to pass it up, because it doesn't make financial sense. He doesn't understand but I believe God will help me pay everything before it's due. I recieved an unexpected 10K recently just for my loans. Amen!

Karen lucci January 8, 2016 at 3:23am

So encouraging for the New Year to just keep on putting one foot infront of the other while following the Giver of the vision. Loving others but not being distracted by the logical or ordinary or practicle. Leaping with joy at being called, chosen, empowered!

Arielle January 7, 2016 at 5:31pm

Wow wow wow in tears. I needed this.
I'm barely a year into my calling and I'm already exhausted. I'm discouraged and broke.
I know God has called me to write and speak mostly spoken word but I have no motivation to write and finances are choking every thought.

My housemate sent me this link and it was more than necessary to hear. Thank you for this.

Renee January 7, 2016 at 7:53am

This message is so timely. I could not have asked for a more clear response to my questions and thoughts of this morning. Thank you. Stepping forward...

Jessica January 7, 2016 at 7:14am

I liked this article. One thing- the two women in this article are described as "pastor's wives". I find this description undermining. Are the women pastors themselves (probably), then they are Pastors!!! My husband doesn't go around labelling himself as a "teacher's husband". these two women sound like high achieving women in their own right.

Jennifer January 6, 2016 at 8:39pm

This is very like my experience, except that I "fit" into too many places none of which are my calling. To partially quote a word of personal prophecy I once received, "It is hard to be able to do a lot of things and yet not to know precisely your nichè, not to know precisely what God has for you." It is only recently, after a lifetime of loving Jesus that He has shown me where I fit.

Jane Llanos January 6, 2016 at 6:06pm

That thought had run thru my mind 1000 times!
My husbands calling clear as day! My three daughters again, clear, if not achieved, but still clear! Me??
What? where? And when??

Laurel January 6, 2016 at 3:30pm

“fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). Faith says there is more to the story than logic, which means we don’t need clarity so much as courage. - If ever there was a need for a giant lightbulb above my head to suddenly illuminate...this was is. This shattered me.