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.


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