What’s a Calling?

Small Group Study / Produced by TOW Project

This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for women rehabilitating from drug addiction, prison, and prostitution. To see all lessons, go to the Women's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.

Did you ever hear someone talk about a job as a calling?

When people use the word calling, they usually mean that God pointed them to a particular career. Mostly this is something that pastors say. You sometimes hear doctors or artists talk about being called to their work. Some women talk about being called to unpaid work like mothering. But not always. If you have never felt a specific calling, you’re not alone.

According to the Bible, there is more than one way to be called. Everyone’s first and most important calling is to belong to Christ. Everyone is called to this. No matter who you are or what you do, you’re included.

Including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ
(Romans 1:6)

Discussion Question: What did it feel like when God called you to believe in Jesus? Did you ever feel the same way about a job?

Some people in the Bible got called to specific jobs. But most people don’t hear directly from God about the job he wants them to do. Instead, their friends or family have to point out God’s calling. This was the case of Esther, who had to have God’s plans explained to her by her cousin Mordecai: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Most heroes in the Bible didn’t hear from God at all about what work they were supposed to do. Instead, they did whatever work was in front of them. Some very faithful people in the Bible took care of other people’s animals (Genesis 29:15). One of the saints waited tables (Acts 6:2-5). Ruth took care of herself and her mother-in-law by working in the fields (Ruth 2:3).

Discussion Question: What was the last job you had? Did you feel like your work was important to God?

God does not have a preference for any particular type of work, as long as it’s an honest living. But he does care that everyone who can work should find productive work to do.

Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
(2 Thessalonians 3:10-13)

Discussion Question: Does anything surprise you from this Bible passage?

If you’re wondering what type of job to look for, here are three tips from the Bible on choosing a profession:

1) Pay attention to your unique gifts.

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us; prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:6-8)

2) Pay attention to the needs around you.

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
(Matthew 25:35-36)

This includes the needs of your family. The Bible makes a special point that you should seek a job that provides for your family.

And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Timothy 5:8)

3) Pay particular attention to any job that gives you joy.

He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them.
(Psalm 145:19)

Discussion Question: What do you think would be the perfect job for you?