God’s Will and Your Vocation

“I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought…but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (v. 3).

- Romans 12:1–8

Romans 12:1–8 gives some of the most helpful directions for learning how to read God’s will in relation to our churchly vocations. In the first place, Paul reminds us that not everyone in the church has the same gifts. Some have been given the ability to teach. Some can give of their resources more than others. Another group of people more readily give of themselves in acts of service. This list of gifts and graces is not exhaustive but representative of the many ways in which our Father may equip us to serve His people.

Again, while the apostle is speaking of service within the church in this passage, there is a secondary application to the labor we do outside of the Christian community. Experience says that just as God has not given the same spiritual gift to every believer, so too has He not granted the same talents, skills, and desires to everyone. No one is equipped to do every job in the church, and no one has the gifts to do every job in the world.

That is why Paul prefaces his list of gifts in verses 4–8 with the admonition that we think of ourselves with sober judgment (v. 3). It is not that we should not ever think of ourselves highly, only that we should not think of ourselves more highly than is appropriate. In other words, we must subject ourselves to critical self-examination, asking ourselves where our talents and interests truly lie and being honest about the answers. Those who think of themselves rightly do not pretend to be gifted in an area simply because they want to be gifted in that area. Instead, they only claim talents where they actually possess them. As we examine ourselves soberly, we will be determined to do the tasks to which the Lord has called us, but if we do not, we are in danger of engaging in work for which we are not really gifted, which can create all sorts of problems for ourselves and other people.

So in one sense, determining our vocation is not all that difficult. If what we desire to do is permitted by Scripture, can contribute in some way to the good of others, and is made of tasks we are able to do well, then we can be fairly confident that our desire matches God’s calling.

Coram Deo

If you are contemplating a career change, ask yourself if you are equipped for the new job. If the answer is yes, and if it is something that God allows and can serve the good of others, then you have liberty to take the job that is offered to you. If you are dissatisfied in your current job because you are not up to the task or do not feel like you are serving others, it might be time to start looking for other employment.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 35:30–36:3
2 Kings 2
1 Corinthians 7:17–24
Ephesians 4:7

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.