Such a curious thought, that I would have a calling on my life. A purpose.

 

Knowing you have a calling can be the most fulfilling aspect of living. Yet, not know what that calling is can be paralysing.

 

It can be what wakes you up in the morning, but it can equally be what keeps you awake at night.

 

Calling is something that I very much wrestled with over the years. Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I all God designed me to be? What should I do next in my career? So many questions in the past, but it is now something that I have absolute peace with. Did I receive some prophetic message? A 'writing on the wall' moment? No. Just a better understanding of what God wants for all of us, and especially for me.

Let's start with the calling that you and I have in common. His Word is full of clues about our calling. In Genesis, it is made clear that we are called to take care of and rule over the earth and all that is in it, this is the Creation Mandate, and it applies to all of us. Furthermore, in Matthew, we are told to go into all the earth and to make disciples. This is the Great Commission, and just like the Creation Mandate, it applies to all of us. We are also told to love the Lord your God with everything that you have and to love your neighbour as yourself.

 

As you consider your calling you can be sure that the purpose that God has for you will include all of the above. If you are wrestling with whether something is your calling and that something works against your purpose to fulfil any of the above you can be assured it is not what you are designed for.

 

Does that mean that all of us need to be Ministers? No...and yes. No, in the sense that we are certainly not all called to be employed by a church, preach every Sabbath and have a name badge with the label 'Minister' on it. However, we are all called to do the work of a minister. We are indeed called to share the hope that we have in us, we are to love the Lord and to love each other.

 

God will no doubt call you to a purpose. For me, it is Christian Education. The thought of working with hundreds of children and dozens of teachers certainly is not appealing to everyone, but for me, this is my sweet spot, this is where I find fulfilment. Now, I find myself in a particular Christian school; this is important for someone who finds his purpose in Christian Education. However, I never received a 'writing on the wall' or a 'Road to Dimastas' experience to move here. So what happened that I find myself uprooting my family and shifting to a new school?

It was all about the freedom that I found in my calling.

 

This is an important aspect to calling. While God will call you to a purpose, rarely does he determine the place, not never, just rarely. Within this purpose we have freedom. In my situation, I was pretty much living the dream in Christian Education. I was at an amazing school, people came from all over the country and even from abroad to see what we were doing at school. I was invited to present our story and philosophy at both Christian and secular education forums and conferences and importantly, my family were very much settled. I was comfortable.

 

I was then asked to take up a new position in a school that would require me taking a difficult step away from my comfort and to begin the process of leading change once again. At first, it all seemed too difficult and too much like hard work...I had after all put in all the blood, sweat and tears (with the help of many amazing people around me of course) and I was reaping the reward of that work. Leading change is ugly, people get stretched, people often get hurt, and it is hard work, why would I willingly do that again? Especially if I was fulfilling God's calling on my life already, I was fulfilling God's calling on my life by being in Christian Education after all.

 

The reality is that your calling in not just about purpose, it is also about growth. As my last boss used to say, 'what can I do today to be of more use to Him tomorrow?

 

If you find yourself at a crossroad and you are looking for answers about your calling, a 'writing on the wall', of course, seek the Lord in prayer and talk to those around you whom you respect. However, also keep in mind that we are designed to grow. Seek out the purpose that gives you fulfilment and pursue opportunities to grow, to be of greater use to Him tomorrow.

 

Keep your eyes on the purpose God has designed you for and hold loosely to the 'place' (location) and even your 'plan' for that purpose. As stated in Proverbs 16:9, plan your course but allow God to direct your steps. The more that you understand your purpose the more agile you can be with the 'plan' and 'place' side of fulfilling your purpose.

 

A central theme of calling is freedom. Yes, God has designed you for a purpose but He gives you freedom within that calling. You can take it easy, or you can seek the track which leads to growth. I chose the growth path. There were many details within this path that I hadn't sorted out. However, as He does when we 'let go and let God', He took care of every last detail.

 

A central theme of calling is freedom, the choice to choose either comfort or growth. Choose well.

I have come to realise that viewing a leader's relationship with others like a rubber band brings an interesting and important perspective.  

 

The concept that as a leader, someone with the responsibility to lead and grow others, my relationship with everyone else is comparable to a rubber band. As I set goals that move the organisation forward, it indirectly requires that others grow.  

 

Growth or stretching enables someone to be better than before.  It benefits them, and it benefits the organisation that they work with.  And just as stretching causes tension to a rubber band, stretching someone in their skill development causes tension between the employee and the person, expectation or KPI that is causing the stretching.  

 

When the stretching begins and the tension there are only two possibilities, one is to release the tension and the other is to ignore it. However, in reality, ignoring the tension is actually impossible. The ongoing tension will destroy a relationship and often seek to undermine a leader's position to actually lead.

 

The only option actually remaining is to release the tension. The tension is related in one of three ways. 

1The person being stretched grows and moves towards the goals and expectations set for them.

2The leader reconsiders the goal or expectation and removes whatever it is that has established the tension.

3Both a hybrid of both number one and two.

 

So long as the goal or expectation is achievable there is no reason that the leader should shift. If our purpose as a leader is not to grow others around us, what is it? A quality leader will know those around them and maximise the tension that they can handle in order to grow them at an optimal rate. 

 

A leader who continually removes expectations and goals for development is not a leader. A leader needs to feel the rubber band pull. 

 

The worst way to reduce the tension is to lessen the expectation...the tension is gone, but so is the growth opportunity. 

 

I am grateful to have had leaders in my life who have not released the tension for me by removing the opportunity, rather they have put support my way to enable the tension to lessen by me moving forward...towards the higher expectation and growth opportunity. 

 

The tension is lessened because I have grown.

 

The concept of a 'rubber band relationships' also exists with our goals. Sometimes we set 'easy' goals in order to grow. By setting an 'easy' goal the rubber band has little tension, however, it provides limited opportunity for growth. Some times the goal is set too big and the tension is too high and the rubber band breaks. In this case, the relationship with the goal is broken and it will not be reached...hence there will be no growth either. 

If the analogy stands true it would appear that without tension there is no growth. A measure of a leader is to know those who they lead and how much tension each can cope with. We all have a different tension tolerance, however, if we want growth...which is one of our BHAGs, then we need to recognise tension is necessary. 

 

WHAT I AM NOT SAYING!

 

While tension is important, I do not advocate tension without release. I see this as a place where the rubber band is stretched and release, then new goals bring more opportunity for growth - the tension is increased and as the teacher grows the tension is released again. 

Parting thought...is it possible to be a successful leader if those who we are responsible for do not grow?