I remember a man named Mark Griffin.
You probably don’t know him, and that’s okay. Chances are you haven’t meet him, or you won’t. Still, that is fine. What is important, what should matter to you is what Mark Griffin taught me about someone’s calling. He taught me something unique about the destiny that God has for all of us. And it was and still is something that no one else is talking about, the one thing that no one is telling you about your calling.
I would have been about 13 or 14 years old when I went to my first big youth convention event. I was the youngest one in my youth group, but probably the most excited for what was going to happen that weekend. There was loud worship music, there were lights flashing every which way, which was a far cry from my church or my youth group, but I loved it. The emcee was young and cool. He was giving away free CD’s and bunny hugs. There were crazy games with giant bouncy balls and mega phones. It was exactly like my own youth group, if my youth group was given a year long diet of Red Bull and pixie sticks.
(Bunny hugs can also be refered to as hoddies, zip ups, or sweaters. All are acceptable, but bunny hugs are what we Canadians call them. And pixie sticks are basically drinking straws filled with coloured sugar, in case you didn’t know or you called them something else.)
Finally, the speaker came out.
The loud music and the flashing lights were all turned off. The bouncy balls and the megaphones were put away. The free CD’s and bunny hugs were taken to the back. Now it was time for Pastor Mark Griffin to speak to the entire youth convention.
To be honest, I don’t remember a word that he said that weekend. No idea what Scripture was used. I don’t recall any of the jokes or funny illustration he employed to keep us all interested and drive home his point. I do remember that he said his brother worked for LucasFilm and worked on the digital rendering in the original Jurassic Park. Beyond that little bit, I don’t remember much.
I do remember that I thoroughly enjoyed him though. He spoke with a really soft spirit, contrasted with a bellowing voice. He paced back and forth on the stage, which was something I had never seen a pastor do before. Whatever it was that he did say, it was done in an animated and cinematic way. He was larger than life, and he presented the Gospel that way.
At the end of the youth conference, I was sad that I couldn’t take Mark Griffin home with me. I wanted to have that kind of preaching and teaching in my youth group. I wanted to hear more from this man. Not that my youth pastor was boring or dull, but the new and different excited my spirit and desired more of the same. My sadness was short lived when I learned that Mark Griffin would be coming back to speak for the next year’s youth conference.
Fast forward a year of anticipated waiting. I was back at the youth convention with my youth group, eager to hear what Mark had to say this time. I must have been extremely excited because my only memory of that youth conference was Mark’s sermon. I saw him weep on stage. It was a strange sight for sure. Through his tears, he apologized to everyone. He had spent 10 extra minutes doing his hair and other such things when he should have spent 10 extra minutes preparing his heart in prayer and likewise praying for our hearts to be prepared. There was such a conviction and passion in this man, a genuine love for God and the youth that he was speaking to. In my mind, it made perfect sense why they called him back for a second year.
But he was never back for a third year, and it actually upset me quite a bit. I recall asking my pastor and some of the older youth kids why Mark wasn’t there speaking that third year. No one was really sure, and most of the answers I received were “I don’t know.” But someone gave me an answer that changed how I looked at God’s calling on people’s lives.
“Maybe that is all God needed him to do.”
I had never heard someone say anything like that before. Maybe speaking at a youth convention for two years was all God needed him to do? That’s all? Two years and then drop off the face of the earth? Why would God ever call someone to this?
When I read different articles and blogs about the Christian callings, whether it is about determining God’s call or what we are supposed to do for Jesus with our lives, there seems to be a consistent theme throughout: God is calling you to something big.
God is calling you to use your servanthood gifts to work in Africa. God is calling you to write worship songs to drown out the chaos of the world’s noise. God is calling you to be the next Joan of Arc, liberating the nations from tyranny. God is calling you to be the next Billy Graham, evangelizing to millions at a time. God is calling you to be the next big Christian hero.
One reason there are so many blogs and articles about this is because it is true. Or partially true. God does have callings on peoples’ lives that are wild and adventurous. Some that will help to define a generation as Christian. There are some callings on peoples’ lives that will alter the course of human history, for the glory of God. Because the truth is, the world needs God’s divinely appointed Joan of Arcs and Billy Grahams. That will never change.
Another reason there are a lot of blogs and articles about these larger than life callings is because we all want to be a hero. We want to be the one that changes everything. We want to be the one person that millions will flock to see in a football stadium. We want to have people talk about us and how our lives meant something special to a nation when we are gone. We want to know that what we did meant something. What isn’t mentioned is the danger that comes with that mentality, the pride that sneaks in. I want. I will do. I will achieve. I will make things better. Things will never be the same because I did something. This kind of mentality moves away from God and focuses on us. We want to be the hero instead of God. That is a problem.
Because Scripture clearly states that it is God that changes the fate of the earth, that the nations are in His hands, not ours. We may have a larger than life calling, but that is because God graced us with that honour. It is not something we have deserved.
Whether these blogs and articles are written for the right or wrong reason, it doesn’t change this fact. The truth is, you may not have a larger than life calling on your life. You may not be the next Joan of Arc or Billy Graham. In fact, you may have a very small role to play.
“There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man.”
What if God is calling you to something small? What if your role in the cosmic scheme of things is not that large? What if you are called to be the usher, the guy at the door of the next Billy Graham’s event? What if you are divinely destined to be the person that makes the coffee for the next Joan of Arc?
Most of us don’t like that idea. Even suggesting that may have turned you off of this article. Because why should you be reduced to that, right? Why shouldn’t you be the next big Christian thing? You’re special. I’m special. We’re all uniquely important. We have our own gifts and talents and abilities. Right?
It is amazing how quickly we become defensive about a calling on our lives. We feel like we deserve to be someone special. We deserve to be the hero, the big shot. Shouldn’t we be entitled to do great things for God? No. We aren’t entitled. We don’t deserve to be the hero or the big shot. We don’t earn the right to be a Joan of Arc or a Billy Graham. The calling that God places on our lives is just that. Something that God places on us. He is the one that chooses what we are supposed to do. He picks what task we are going to do to honour and glorify Him. For some people, it may be a big thing. For others it may not be.
Take the story of the man found in Ecclesiastes. His entire life, his whole God given calling is one single act. One. After that we have no idea what happens to this man. No one remembered him, and no more details are given. The story ends just as quickly as it started.
We may be quick to jump up and say this is just a story. But this story is a great example of what God is asking of us. Whether we have a great big calling on our lives or a small one, God wants us to be obedient in it. The small callings are just as important as the big ones. God demands the same level of commitment and obedience from those that are the next Joan of Arcs and Billy Grahams as He demands from those with a small role to play.
Now, don ‘t go away from here thinking that I am telling you that have a small calling on your life. That isn’t up to me. That isn’t what I’m trying to do here at all. I simply want the other side of the “God’s calling” conversation to be voiced. God may not have the big plans we think He should have for your life. God might be asking you to do one small act with your life, rather than a big one.
And that is not a bad thing. We may unfairly jump to the conclusion that if our calling is a small, one act kind of a calling that we are somehow insignificant. That we aren’t as important as the Joans and Billys of the Christian world. But that would be a mistake, and a grave misunderstanding of how things work.
Any large machine, be it an automobile, a tractor or a factory, depends on a lot of large moving parts. And at the same time, depends on a lot of small moving parts. Together the large and the small parts work in a beautiful symphony. Together they can move a person from point A to point B, they can move freight around or till the ground in a field. Together they work to manufacture and build. The large and the small parts working together.
Just as the automobile, the tractor or the factory would all come to a grinding halt if any one of the large pieces broke or fell out of place, the same is true of the small pieces. Without the smallest gear rotating in place, without the small bolt holding something together, without the little engine belt, everything comes crashing down. We all know this to be case. This is reality. It happens to us, to our cars or trucks. It happens at work, to our computers or to the machinery. The same is true for those with big callings and small callings in the Christian faith.
The apostle Paul reiterates this.
“For indeed the body is not one part but many. If the foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. And if the ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If it were all hearing, how could it smell?
But as it is, God arranged each of the parts in the body exactly as he wanted them. Now if they were all just one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body.
So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”; or the head to the feet, “I don’t need you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be less important turn out to be all the more necessary; and upon body parts which we consider less dignified we bestow greater dignity; and the parts that aren’t attractive are the ones we make as attractive as we can, while our attractive parts have no need for such treatment.
Indeed, God has put the body together in such a way that he gives greater dignity to the parts that lack it, So that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others.
Thus if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness.”
1 Corinthians 12.14-26 CJB
One is not more important than the other. Both are vital to the success of each other and the success of the whole. The large piece needs the small piece to work and fulfill its purpose, its destiny, its calling. The small piece needs the large piece to do the same. One may be small, the other big, but both are important.
I know that the reality that our calling may not be the big and flashy one that we have read about or heard about may sound depressing. It may bum you out for a little while. But this I know, that in obedience to God, in the big and small things, there is great joy and satisfaction. Whether you or I are preaching to millions or we are serving someone coffee, if God has called us to it, it is a good thing.
Go. Ponder this. Tell me what you think in the comments below. Discover what kind of calling God has for you, and then be obedient in it.