A New Question to Consider: Skill vs. Calling

Okay, prepare yourself.   Because today’s musing is full to the brim with questions, and pretty short on answers.

I’ve recently taken up a new committee duty at my church, one that stimulates a part of my brain and experience that, well, haven’t been used much since I left the world of business some 10 years ago.   It is really important work for our community, at this point in our regeneration, and a series of events led me believe that I needed to accept when the invitation came.

And I must say that it is quite interesting to meet parts of myself that, frankly, I considered long dead.  It is interesting and more than a little disconcerting.  But, also, somehow, right.

Or that was what I thought, until I met with my spiritual director this week.  One of the reasons that I go to a spiritual director is to provide myself with a sounding board, an external checkpoint to help me stay on point.  You see, I have a lot of energy, a lot of different skills, a fair amount of control over my time, and — I really never met a challenge I didn’t like (except learning to swim) and I have a tremendous amount of difficulty with the word NO. 

I really felt that I gave the request careful consideration before I said yes; I  saw the request coming and I considered its impact on my time and other activities.  And, frankly, I still believe it was the right decision.

But, as my sounding board asked me, quite pointedly, while I was clearly capable and might even be the right person for the right task, was I CALLED to do it?

With all my focus on calling and right work and staying in the flow of Holy Spirit, it never, ever occurred to me to ask that question.  Never.  And it is an important question — for a lot of reasons. 

First, just because I can do something doesn’t mean that I should do it.  I’m a reasonably good cook, but I know that I have no business working in or running a restaurant.  Second, and most troubling:  what if I step into a task that I am capable of doing, even qualified to do, but I wasn’t called to do, and, by stepping in, I block the path of someone who was around the edges, whom God had been working on and working on, and who WAS called for that task.

Now, I happen to subscribe to the belief that I in my human state might be able to delay God’s action, but I can’t really stop it, so while at first this thought froze me in place, I now realize that I’m not powerful enough to derail another person’s good or development.  But, I will never ever fail again to ask myself the question “Am I called to do this?” when I am considering a request again.

The bottom line is, don’t  overfunction, Susan. You know it is your nature.  So, just don’t.  And stick to the plan, even if you can’t see what it is.

Remember:  a skill is something that you have proven yourself to be competent at doing.  That’s a long list; I’ve done a lot of different things in my life.  But a calling, well, that may very well be something that I haven’t ever done, somethng I need to learn, something that leads me to a kind of growth and faith that I could not have imagined before; something that I might be able to do that might help lead someone else to a new level of faith or peace. Stick to the plan, and keep listening.

Call first; skills as needed to support call and as needed to support community.  Remember.

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