Ah, discernment. It doesn’t happen (at least to me) via Owl Post or a Josephian dream. Usually it’s a gut feeling: I read a position description and one of the following things happens:
- I have a viscerally negative reaction. (That’s a Big No.)
- I am intrigued but not convinced it’s a remotely good match. (That’s a Maybe.)
- I immediately start fantacizing about what I would do first. (That’s a Yes but it could also turn out to be a quick flame out.)
I remember the following sensations when discerning previous calls to professional ministry:
- First Call – I loved the interview and during the tour of the manse, I pictured where I’d put the Christmas Tree. That seemed to be a sign and it led to a wonderful first call experience.
- Second Call – When HH and I prayed in the church parking lot before and after the interview, such calm came over me that it felt right. Some of the interview questions had been a little odd (“Would I change my name?”) but I sensed a healthy challenge.
- Third Call: Although it felt alarming even to apply for a position that – just months earlier – would have made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, it turned out to be a wonderful ministry.
- Fourth Call: X marks the spot. I am pondering what’s next along with scores of my colleagues.
Is discerning a call another example of privilege? People with the most pressing financial needs cannot wait for a gut feeling.
Does God call us to something particular (this exact position in that exact state)? Or does God call us towards a general path?
I love this process but it’s also unnerving. The unknown is not my favorite place to be, but learning to sit with God and breathe is an excellent spiritual tool.
Image source here.