As a young man, I shared my dreams with my dad. His generation was a stickler for doing it the “safe way” (which is a weakness when it comes to a life of faith). My dad said, “Son, there is no security in this path.” He suggested engineering because I was good in math and science, and he too was an engineer for forty years. It was a safe career choice. Looking back, he wanted the best for me, but I did not realize I was signing up for six years of misery in college and my first job as an engineer! Even though I was proficient in these subjects, I was miserable because it wasn’t God’s call on my life.
My first job as an engineer was working for IBM. One day my boss pulled me into his office and said, “Bevere, what are you doing in engineering? You are a people person; you should be in some field that involves interacting with people.” Well-known ministers also pulled me aside in numerous meetings and said, “Son, I see the call of God on you to preach the gospel.”
In my alone time in prayer, God continually drew my heart to ministry, even though I wanted nothing to do with it. All the ministers I’d ever met seemed strange. Even before coming into a personal relationship with Jesus, my heart was still sensitive to our Creator. When I was twelve years old I went to a Catholic seminary for a week sensing the calling to ministry. But it scared me that, as a Catholic priest, I would never be married.
But, now after coming to know Jesus intimately, over and over I continued receiving confirmation, and I was discovering clues that were pointing me in the right direction, which ultimately helped me put my dad’s advice aside. I respected him so much, which pleased God, but I knew something was terribly off as I studied and eventually worked as an engineer. Since I had been repeatedly asking and searching for God’s direction, He would not permit me to be misdirected (even by my own well-meaning dad) and made His will abundantly clear.
When the calling to preach was settled for me, I now had a burning passion that resulted from over a year and a half of searching. I was also three-quarters of the way through getting my engineering degree. I decided to finish and pursue vocational ministry once I graduated. It was a good decision, as I learned strategies that Bible school wouldn’t have taught me. God will use all experiences to train us!
In regard to pursuing God’s call for our life, Paul encouraged, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that” (Galatians 6:4 MSG). Discovering your calling and gifts will require a careful exploration on your part. Destiny often leaves clues, when carefully examined rather than ignored, assist in choosing the right path for our life.
First and foremost, as you embark on this careful exploration, you’ll need God’s involvement. After all, He’s the one who has called and gifted us! There are no formulas to discover your calling and the accompanying gifts. Even though there are various resources that can help you discover what you’re good at, when it comes to making an eternal impact, it requires your Creator’s assistance. You’ll be met with frustration if you’re looking for God to answer you in a patterned way. It puzzles me sometimes how we continually talk about having a “personal relationship” with Jesus, but when it comes to hearing God, in this case discovering our gifts, we want a formula. God wants to keep it personal. That’s why He doesn’t answer each of His children’s prayers the exact same way. It’s different and unique for each of us.
In our pursuit, not only are we to seek God, we should ask ourselves—and others—questions. This is all part of the searching process. The right questions asked of the right people may help awaken recognition of what you’re gifted to do. Here’s four specific questions to get you started!
What Are You Naturally Good At?
This is a good starting place. Perhaps your gift is to understand numbers, eloquently construct sentences, build things, create video stories, design clothes, or organize events. You may have natural athletic abilities or an eye for detail. If you’re able to hold a tune and have a desire to lead people into the presence of God, this could be a good indicator that you might be called to worship or be involved with some other type of music ministry. The list is endless.
But these clues should not be the final word. I was a very good tennis player, started on a team at an NCAA Division I school, and played the USTA circuit and Junior Davis Cup. I was even a tennis teaching professional for three years and also won the West Virginia state high school tennis tournament. But in prayer, I knew professional tennis wasn’t my calling.
What Energizes You?
This is a fairly easy way to determine your calling: Your true gifting will actually energize you, even though you may become mentally or physically tired during long stints. For those who have discovered their true gifting, hours of practice, competing, or working can seem like minutes. So ask yourself, “What is it that energizes me and periodically causes me to lose track of time?”
I’ve realized that often when I’m writing, I completely lose track of time. There are times I start writing early in the morning and don’t realize it’s become afternoon. I’m usually mentally tired after so much writing, but I’m also energized. The same thing happens when preaching. Back in the days when we didn’t have time constraints, I would often find myself preaching for more than two hours. It seemed to me like thirty minutes! (I don’t know what my audiences thought!)
What Are You Drawn To?
What would you be drawn to do if you were never paid for it? Most professional athletes would play their sport even if they weren’t paid for it. My dad would sit me down on Saturday mornings and tell me how a steam engine or some other machine worked. I recall one Saturday morning he spent over an hour drawing and explaining a boiler and how it worked. This would bore me to tears, and I should have figured out then that my calling was not to be an engineer! I loved my dad so much that I never had the heart to tell him I hated those sessions.
Looking back, I made the huge mistake of pursuing engineering to seek financial security—don’t make the same error. How many people are miserable in their job because they do it for one reason—to get a paycheck? Pay attention to what grabs your attention and makes your heart come alive! It could lead to the very thing you’re destined to do!
Who Are You Drawn To?
Recognizing who you’re drawn to also reveals a lot about your calling and gifts. Certain people awaken and unlock the gifts within you. Find your tribe—those who share similar giftings and callings as you. They will become pivotal in understanding who you are and how God has gifted you. I love sitting with other ministers and discussing adventures and challenges of ministry and, of course, the Word of God. I also love sitting with entrepreneurs and businesspeople. These are all areas of strength in my life.
These four questions are a good starting place. But as I shared earlier, discovering your calling and gifts will require God’s involvement. He’ll guide you through your careful exploration—an investigation that’s absolutely crucial for fulfilling your potential!
In over forty years of ministry, I’ve realized that you’ll never be truly satisfied in life until you take your unique God-given gifts and multiply them for the benefit of others. That’s why discovering your gifts is paramount to fulfilling your calling. And that’s why I’ve written X—I want to see your faith strengthened to further multiply your God-given potential.
John Bevere is an international speaker and best-selling author who’s known for his bold and uncompromising approach to God’s Word. John and his wife Lisa are the founders of Messenger International, an organization established to teach, reach, and rescue. Over more than three decades in the ministry, his desire is to support the local church and resource leaders regardless of location, language, or financial position. To this end, his resources have been translated into over 90 languages, and millions of copies have been given away to pastors and leaders worldwide.