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Everyone is Talking About Calling

Everyone is Talking About Calling

I recently Googled “life calling” to test my theory that almost everyone is talking about calling. My search produced 744 million results.

Everyone really is talking about calling.

There are almost as many definitions of “calling” as there are people talking about it. My dissertation research in “calling development” among women undergraduate students in Christian colleges opened my eyes to the vast array of definitions. Many, of course, are focused on a sense of pulling from God toward full-time, vocational service in Christian ministry, such as pastoral ministry or world missions. The other end of the spectrum is the secular definition of calling, which identifies the source of calling as the self, or the true self, and describe it as a pull toward a vocation or profession that serves the greater good (see, for instance, Hall & Chandler, 2005; and Hunter, Dik, & Banning, 2010). Many perspectives on calling recognize such a construct as leading one to a lifestyle, not just a job, that contributes to the well-being of others.

My personal definition of calling synthesizes my understanding of Scripture with the sociological and psychological research on the construct of calling (see my dissertation, Lamm Bray 2016). Specifically, I adapted a definition used by leading researchers on the subject (Dik & Duffy, 2009).

I define a sense of calling as:

an internal orientation toward a meaningful or
purposeful type of work or lifestyle that comes through a transcendent summons
and results in benefit to others or society (Lamm Bray, 2016, p. 3).

Allow me to clarify here that by “transcendent summons” I mean a summons from the heart and person of God. Simply, based on the Bible and on my and others’ research of the way God is working in the world, I have concluded that calling is God’s act of giving an inner nudge or orienting a person’s life toward working and living in ways that serve God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

Part of my calling is to help others discover, develop, and live out the calling God has given them. This blog will include insight from my work in Scripture and my social science research regarding how people become aware of their calling, how they gain understanding about and grow into their calling, and how they live it out.

Stay tuned. You might just hear the Holy Spirit whispering to you about something He has been doing in your life, something that is a bigger part of His plan than you realized!

This article referenced four publications:

Dik, B. J., & Duffy, R. D. (2009). Calling
and vocation at work: Definitions and prospects for research and practice. The Counseling Psychologist, 37,
424-250. doi:10.1177/0011000008316430

Hall, D. T., & Chandler, D. E. (2005). Psychological success:
When the career is a calling. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26,
155-176. doi:10.1002/job.301

Hunter, I., Dik, B. J., & Banning, J. H.
(2010). College students’ perceptions of calling in work and life: A
qualitative analysis. Journal of
Vocational Behavior, 76, 178-186.

Lamm Bray, D. (2016). Women undergraduates’
experiences in developing a sense of calling (Doctoral dissertation, Azusa
Pacific University).