I recently read Os Guinness’s book, “The Call”, for a class and he discusses the idea of primary and secondary callings:
Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something or to somewhere. Our secondary calling…is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.
-The Call, Os Guinness
I really like this understanding of calling. All of mankind is “first and foremost” called to be in relationship with the Father. This is your primary calling. It is mine as well. Each of us are called to be in relationship with God, and that is exactly what He wants most from us. Even more, He is actively seeking that relationship with us all through Christ. This is the very intention of the incarnation – God became man to bring man back to God. Our primary calling is to respond to the grace of God through our relationship with Christ. Once that has been established, anything that we do can be considered a secondary calling when it is for the glory of God.
We each have personal secondary callings in our lives, the purposes that God has for us individually, what He has “called” us to do. This is often what we consider when the word “calling” is used. Some people only consider using the term “calling” when it’s in reference to ministry. “I responded to the call to be a pastor” or “I feel called to mission field of Africa.” But truly, anything can be a secondary calling.
For some of us its our vocations: as a lawyer advocating for the innocent and oppressed; as a politician fighting for just policies and good stewardship of our freedom; as a doctor or nurse caring for the sick; as a waitress serving those who may not appreciate you with love and kindness; as an administrative professional attending to the details of a business with accuracy and faithfulness… when done in love and for the glory of God, anything can be a secondary calling.
But a calling doesn’t necessarily even have to be a job! You could be called to helping pregnant teens find hope and choose life, while working a cash register during the day. You could be called to tutoring at the Boys and Girls Club two days a week, while being a freelance graphic designer. The possibilities are unlimited.
But don’t worry if you read this and think “well I don’t feel like I have anything like that in my life.” This secondary calling is discernible – God doesn’t just tell you to pick a good idea and pursue it (although that’s not necessarily a bad way to get plugged in).
If you’re a Christian, God’s very presence resides in you through the Holy Spirit. He blesses each of us with spiritual gifts, and He can help you find what those gifts are. You’ve been created with certain passions, interests, and talents; how might those fit into your secondary calling? God made you with a certain personality type with unique strengths; how can they be used to bring Him glory?And when you discover your spiritual gifts, how can they be used to help build the kingdom of heaven on earth?
When you put all of this together, discerning a secondary calling isn’t nearly as complex as you might think. What are your gifts? What are your talents and passions? What’s your personality, and what are your strengths? Through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will lead you to find your calling.
References: The Call
About the Author
Kevin Cook is a 4th year student at Asbury Theological Seminary and an Aspirant for Ordination in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). After graduating, Kevin hopes to plant a contemporary three-streams Anglican Church. He and his wife Nicole attend Wilmore Anglican Church in Kentucky.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. Kevin enjoys playing music and leading worship, reading fiction and spiritual classics, drinking coffee, and spending time with family and friends.
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