“We are not here for a long time, but we are here for a good time!”
I heard this little tip while travelling in a van in Guatemala with a young man named Rhodes, a South African entrepreneur. He didn’t exactly qualify as a scholar; he espoused his earthly wisdom as a way of justifying his self-indulgent, self-serving lifestyle that took him around the world to satisfy his appetites for the exotic and extreme. Tempted to debate with him, I decided instead to simply repurpose this motto.
Surely every person understands that their life is like a vapour; it passes quickly. This world is not our home and it’s ‘not a long time’ that we have been given to make the most of it. We are designed for greatness, each of us imprinted with God’s own image and invested with a sense of destiny that is tied to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Knowing that we are not our own any longer, we respond to a higher calling that urges us that we are truly ‘here for a good time’. We will pursue what is good and worthy of our lives. We will live with intention and purpose; “seize what is good,” as Paul says (Romans 12:9). What more permission do you need? Do all the good you can, for as many as you can, while you can. The Old Testament prophet puts it this way in Isaiah 1:17 – “Do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Uphold the orphan. Plead for the widow.”
Can I ask, what is it time for? For you? In the rhythm of our lives, there are times when we benefit from hitting the pause button to hold ourselves accountable to this question. Hopefully, the answer to the question – what is it time for – yields renewed focus and a compelling vision for the way forward. Best that our feet take us where our honest thoughts point us. Certain passages in our lifetime seem to offer more opportunity for this, but any time is a good time really. What is it time for?
Maybe you are 20 something and living in limbo between education and a career – or, you are thinking about settling down and starting a family. Uncertain of next steps? Wanting to make the most of this opportune time of your life? Are you honour-bound to do something meaningful, impactful that makes a difference in your world and pays forward some of the privileges that you have received? How can you use this not-to-be-recovered-moment for the greatest good? When you pray, what inspired thoughts do you have about serving somewhere in the world? How will you know if God is ‘calling’ you to a life-changing mission? What about the cost? What will it cost you to say no?
I can fast forward to another crucial time in our lives. Maybe you find yourself at a stage when you are finishing a lot of things. Your children are out of the house, debts are down, career is up, horizons look different through bi-focal lenses. So, what do you see? What is it time for now that you have more unencumbered time? What do you dare to dream? And knowing that Jesus is Author and Finisher of your faith, how can your next season continue to align with God’s Kingdom purposes that dignify the gift of the full life that you have been given? In what way will your understanding of ‘calling’ release you to service beyond self?
Regardless of your place in life, remember it’s all about having a really good time. And, in every case, I have a sense that this journey towards highest possibilities and renewed purpose relates to what we understand as our ‘calling’, our God-ordained path in life. Some of my friends refer to this as ‘what the universe has prepared for us’. In the Christian context, because we have responded in faith to a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, we can speak confidently about this ‘calling’ in very personal terms. God is interested in every detail of our lives, all the time. Our ‘calling’ is a way of describing how we come to terms with the routines and grind of the every day, while retaining some sense that our activities are more important than they seem and that they have a spiritual, enduring quality.
Unfortunately, for many Christians, ‘calling’ has been institutionalized or made professional, best fulfilled in certain ministry or missional settings. It is thought to be reserved for a certain category of people who give evidence of being called to preach or teach the Bible or to go beyond cultural and national boundaries to share the Gospel. In the Pentecostal tradition, there has also been a mystical basis for one’s ‘calling’ or true vocation (from the Latin root ‘vocare’ = to call), with an expectation that a person should be able to attest that they have heard the voice of God remarkably summoning them to a noble place of service. These traditions are meant to value and validate ‘calling’, but the risk is that they can make exclusive what is meant to be inclusive.
So, what is it time for? What if we de-mystify what it means to be ‘called’ by recognizing “vocation quite differently—not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received. Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.” (1)
This approach results in a different set of questions. Instead of asking, do I measure up? Can I meet the expectations set by others? Or, what should I do with my life? Our questions shift to focus on:
Who am I?
What does it mean that you are God’s one-of-a-kind creation, designed uniquely to be who nobody else can be? Whose life are you living, if not yours? What plans keep you awake at night? How can you use your experiences, skills, and passion to make a difference? Are you willing to let your limitations, your shadows as well as your light, contribute to your ‘calling’?
Whose am I?
What will change for you knowing that God Himself delights in you and knows ahead of time your path (Psalm 139: 13 - 18)? What are you holding onto or trying to do in your own strength that is preventing you from holding firmly to His greater promises? How willing are you to belong to ‘community’ and to receive affirmation and accountability from people who care about your journey?
Who can I be?
What is the voice “in here” telling you about stepping forward into the unknown? Assured of what you know about yourself, what is your highest future possibility? How do you want to show up? What will make the difference between living small and living courageously? What is the story you are telling myself? About yourself? What is the story you would like to have your children or friends tell about you? What joy could there be in surrendering, in being “a pencil in the hand of a writing God!” (2). How will you get started?
An integral beginning point is to know that, “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks—we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.” (3)
Find the place where you are fulfilled, fully alive serving and loving others, meeting the world’s need while being exactly who God has uniquely made you to be. And, remember – true vocation joins self and service at the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need. (4)
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000), p.10
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000), p.16
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC (New York, NY: HarperOne - Harper Collins Publishers; revised edition, September 24, 1993), pp. 118-119
Kelvin Honsinger is a Certified Executive Coach and an ordained minister with PAOC. He formerly served as the Executive Director of ERDO and is currently the Executive Pastor at Glad Tidings Church, Burlington, ON. Kelvin can be contacted at email@example.com.