Eric Speir

Thrive In Your Faith and Family

Learning to Discover Your Calling

I work with college students on a daily basis. As a pastor, educator and life coach I spend a lot of time developing people for a living. In my line of work I hear the phrases “calling” and “life purpose” all the time. In fact, it’s taught so much that we have made it sound something mystical like we are on a mission to find or like buried treasure. It’s the missing link of the Christian world!

What are you searching for?

Because I work with students studying for full time ministry I often hear the phrase, “I don’t know what I feel called to do!” In Christian circles we often ask each other, “What do you feel called to do?” We ask this as if it is a test question and if we get it wrong we are disqualified or we fail the course.

I used to be bothered by this, but now I tell my students to not worry about it right now. They usually look at me in disbelief! I now tell them to just try something until it works. I know this sounds simple but I think we often complicate things. It’s really a simple process that anyone can learn. Is there some steps that we can take to help “discover” our calling? What is a good place to start?

What can we do to discover our calling?

  1. Learn and experiment by trial and error. Try something new and if you don’t like it then don’t do it again. Volunteer somewhere that you think you might like. After experimenting with youth ministry I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a full time youth pastor and instead, I tried working with college students and loved it!
  2. Start small and start now! Many leaders don’t want to start small and procrastinate because they want to have everything figured out before starting something. Don’t wait for your life to be perfectly in order before starting something because it may not happen.
  3. Work as an intern. Being an intern is a good place to learn and experiment in areas that you are interested in. The commitment level is low (so is the pay) because it’s usually for a definite time period. I have interned at two different churches and both of them hired me afterwards!
  4. Serve as an armor bearer for another leader. In the Old Testament an armor bearer was one who looked after and helped served another leader. A good book for this is called “God’s Armor Bearer.” (affiliate link) I promise this book will change your view of leaders and will change your life!
  5. Learn what your spiritual gifts are. When you learn what your spiritual gifts are it becomes easier to find jobs or ministries that afford you the opportunity to use your gifts. The best way to learn what your gifts are is by getting involved in ministry. You will know what your gift is by what comes natural for you. A great book that I recommend to everyone to read and understand their gifts is “Discover Your God-Given Gifts” (affiliate link) by Don Fortune.
  6. Learn to ask yourself the right questions. Example: What gets me excited? What am I passionate about? I wrote a blog post on asking yourself the right questions and you can find it here!
  7. Ask your mentors what they think you are good at. Recently, I had a student who was unsure of what she felt called to do. I’ve known her for about 4 years and I have observed her in many ministry situations. I asked her, “Have you thought about being a worship leader?” She wasn’t exactly enthused with my question! Later, another ministry leader watched her sing and she invited her to come and lead worship at their church on Sunday morning. The student came back to me later and said that I was right! (I knew that too!) It was obvious to me what she was gifted to do. Sometimes, you just need an outside perspective.

These are just some ideas and a few places to start. In fact, this is how I “discovered” my calling. I wish I could say that an angel showed up holding a map and a job description but for many leaders they usually follow a similar path as the one I have suggested.

How did you discover your life calling? Please leave a comment below!

About Eric

I'm a pastor, writer and serial encourager. I like to help people to grow in their relationship with God. I live outside of Atlanta, GA. I've written a book, Stubborn Faith: 30 Day Devotional Guide For New Growth. It's available for download on Amazon. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @ericspeir

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5 Replies

  1. These are really great tips. It’s mildly frustrating to me the bad advice that a lot of people have on finding your calling – it often paralyzes people who want to have 100% assurance before taking a step. But this is a great approach.
    I especially like the first and last points. Trial and error is how I’ve discovered many of my giftings. And we can’t forget that God has given us the church and other people to counsel us in times such as these.

    1. Eric

      You’re right about that Loren. I’ve met too many people who are afraid to step out and try something. They’re afraid of missing God’s will and it ends up paralyzing them. I learned most of mine through trial and error. I wish I could say I was smarter than that but that’s how I figured things out!

  2. Great tips. I remember when I was younger I wanted to be a nurse. I volunteered as a candy striper and found out I wasn’t cut out to be in the hospital. Couldn’t stand the smell. Years later I found out that I was called to help people, and when I was younger I was unaware of what other avenues existed. Now I’m working towards avenues to help more people and am very happy.

    1. Eric

      I’ve found that trial and error is a great way to refine and narrow things down. At one point I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people (and get paid good!), but I felt called to ministry and went that route of helping people.

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