Calling. If there’s something that Christians are great at, it’s yammering on and on about “calling.” Growing up, I heard I had a “unique calling” and that I should follow God in my “calling.” As an adult, I heard a prominent pastor proclaim I didn’t have to find my calling, my calling would find me. Huh?
I struggled for a long time with the ambiguity of my supposed calling—how do I know what it is? Will the clouds part as God’s mighty voice declares a calling over my life? If everyone’s talking about it and everyone has one, it has to be a little more clear cut…am I right?
For me, I leaned in hard to my career, my “calling.” But then I burned out. At the top of my game, anchoring Good Morning America weekends and co-hosting The View, I knew God was nudging me to slow down. Feeling burned out, exhausted, watching my family get my leftovers, I entered a really trying season. Actually, a season of hell. Within seven months, I experienced a miscarriage, a concussion, a head-on car crash, and influenza-turned-pneumonia. That got my attention. I finally accepted that it was time to step off the fast track and in 2018, I left the anchor chair at GMA weekend and departed the co-host seat at The View.
Then, I lived happily ever after.
You see, once I stepped away from these dream jobs, I felt utterly lost without them. I didn’t know who I was. Through the pain and guilt of feeling that I’d lost my purpose, God revealed I’d had it all wrong. I’d been confusing my worth with work, my value with vocation, my “calling” with my career. My identity, purpose and calling were tied to what I did, not to who I was. And when it was gone, so was my significance. Who was I?
In that space of deep introspection (and guilt), I learned that we have TWO callings on our lives—a faith calling and a vocational calling.
Faith calling is our PURPOSE. It will never change. It’s why we’re on this earth. For me, it’s to love God and to love people. Notice, it has nothing to do with career.
While faith calling is who we are, vocational calling is what we do. And, it is sheerly the vehicle by which we’ll love God and love people, the conduit to fulfill our faith calling. Vocational calling can and WILL change throughout our lives.
So, how do you know when it’s time for a vocational shift? For me, God had to get my attention through a season of hell. Maybe he’s trying to get yours? Are you sensing a change in your spirit? Are your professed values clashing with your personal or professional choices? This is why I pumped the brakes. It’s why I decided to take my life back. It’s why I launched a faith podcast called Journeys of Faith.
And how do you know what you’re vocationally called to do? It wasn’t until I interviewed a high-level government guy who’d written that he’d felt called by God to go into government that I was able to articulate what vocational calling looked, sounded, or felt like. In that interview with David Shedd, who was the acting Director of the Intelligence Agencies post 9-11 (he’s a spy, people), he told me that when he’s counseling people about discovering their vocational callings, he tells them to pay attention to three things:
1) What are you good at (your natural giftings)?
2) What do you love (your innate curiosities)?
3) What do trusted people in your life notice you’re good at, what do they notice you love?
For me, I’ve always been innately curious, a questioner, a challenger. My nickname growing up was “Paula 20 Questions.” And, I had trusted people in my life—teachers, college professors, friends—encouraging me to go into broadcasting. It all made sense.
Ask yourself those three questions. It’s not enough to just be good at it—you have to love it, too. And others in your life need to notice it, as well.
If you sense a shift, know that when God calls you, he’ll equip you. In the same way he was with Moses, he’ll be with you. And though you may encounter fear along the way, you’ll have to step out in faith. God commands us to. He’s instructed us to push past that fear. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I don’t know what my next chapter looks like. Sometimes, I don’t know even know about the next page. You may feel the same.
But know this: your worth isn’t your work. Your value isn’t in your vocation. Your calling isn’t in your career.
I am a lover of Jesus, a wife, a mother, curious about life, a questioner, a champion of the voiceless.
I am so much more than what I do. And, so are you.
Paula Faris is a senior national correspondent at ABC News, host of the popular podcast Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris, and author of the new book Called Out. An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Paula previously was co-anchor of the Good Morning America weekend edition, as well as a co-host of The View. She lives in New York with her husband and children.