Sometimes we forget we’re called. When pressure comes or ministry events don’t turn out as we hoped or expected, we can begin making much of ourselves and little of Jesus. We can act as if our role, our giftings and opportunities, and the outcome of our obedience were about us. Only when we, like Paul, can say, in the depths of our hearts, “I am a slave of Christ,” can we rise above outward successes and failures and the ever-shifting opinions of man.
How one introduces oneself says a lot about them. We’ve probably all listened to a speaker or professor extol a long list of achievements clearly designed to elevate themselves rather than honestly establish credibility. We’ve probably also seen others who, in failing to truly grasp their calling—the fact that they were called “not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:1, NIV), become their own limiting factors. They shy away from opportunities or hold tight to “rejection” instead of walking in the confidence befitting God’s ambassadors.
I have a dear friend who’s an equally humble and gifted writer. She’s never signed with a publisher or seen her name in a byline of a national magazine. But she writes truth with the transparency, and grace of one chosen and empowered by the Risen Lord. She doesn’t often remember this, however. She had a tendency to allow her insecurities and doubts to overshadow God’s authoritative voice.
When this occurs, I remind her that she’s called, chosen, lavished with grace, and given everything she needs to fulfill all God has planned. Whenever I introduce her, I especially love introducing her as a writer, after which she’ll drop her gaze and sputter something about me being too kind.
I’m not. I’m simply calling out the truth. She became a writer the moment she took her first steps of obedience, regardless of the words penned on a page. The same holds true for every speaker and ministry leader commissioned by Christ. Our calling isn’t dependent on the size of our readership or how many Instagram followers we have. It’s determined by the will and pleasure of our Sovereign Lord.
I love how the apostle Paul introduced himself in his letters. He almost always began by asserting who he was in Christ. He told them, and likely himself, that he was “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Cor. 1:1).
We are as well.
We are called: summoned by God Himself and gifted with salvation.
We are apostles: messengers sent on mission, commissioned by Christ to represent Him to a broken and hurting world.
We’re called by theléma, God’s preferred will. His preferred not decretive will. In other words, this is something we accept or reject. We submit or rebel.
It’s possible to waste the life and talents God has given us. It’s possible to be so set on a particular direction or opportunity, we completely miss the amazing things God has in store. It’s possible to stand on the fringe of the abundant, filled to overflowing life Jesus promised without experiencing the full joy and depth of it. When we choose surrender, however, no matter what we encounter, no matter the opened and closed doors, we find deep intimacy with Christ, our true prize, and therefore realize we have every reason to rejoice.
To lead, write, and speak well, with the power and authority granted us by Jesus Christ, we must anchor ourselves in God’s love and grace and fully commit to His call, regardless of where He leads.
Identity, not just who we are, but who we think we are, determines behavior.
So remember and hold tight to this:
You are called.
You are sent.
You are empowered.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and ministry leader who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact.