“How many oars are necessary to row a row boat?” I hadn’t really thought about it before but it seemed like two was a good idea. This was a question our church leaders were asked at a conference several years ago. The point the presenter was trying to make is that as followers of Jesus, we all have primary callings to fulfill in secondary settings.
One oar represents our primary calling, and the other represents our secondary calling. To have forward motion on the seas of life, we need both oars in the water. Put no oars in the water, and you drift with the winds of culture. Put only one oar in the water, and you spin in circles. When our secondary calling takes priority over our primary calling, it’s like having one oar in the water. No matter how hard you work, you just spin in circles. We move forward only when we put both oars in the water.
But what is our primary calling? What is a secondary calling? Well, church historians and scholars highlight that every Christian has at least two callings: a primary or common calling and a secondary or unique calling.
Throughout all time, all Christians, everywhere, have shared a primary or common calling that unites us through a common cause and mission.
We are to be disciple makers, who make obedient disciple makers, wherever we are. We are to be a part of God’s rescue mission fulfilling His big dream.
But our secondary callings are unique to each of us. Ephesians 2:10 says that each of us is uniquely made with specific good works and deeds to accomplish. Jesus gives us these callings so that we can directly participate in the mission He has for us — to carry His goodness to others in every part of society.
In the last article, we talked about how we have forfeited God’s big dream by separating or isolating ourselves from the culture Jesus asked us to engage. Thankfully, we have ways to solve that problem, as that article pointed out. But, it seems we have also forfeited God’s big dream by exchanging our primary mission for secondary passions. We replaced our primary calling with our secondary calling and in doing so we have become full-time teachers, full-time businessmen, full-time day laborers, full-time ministers, full-time stay at home moms, and lots of “other” full-time people who serve as part-time Christians.
But how did this happen? How did we replace our primary calling with our secondary calling? By embracing secularism, dethroning Jesus, and putting ourselves at the center of our lives. We became our own gods. This is the original evil we find in Genesis chapter 3. The serpent tempts Eve, saying she will become like God if she eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve eats, and so does Adam, and evil enters the world.
Turns out, we have not changed much. We work long hours in the pursuit of happiness through our work. We look for promotion for validation. We want bigger salaries to acquire more stuff or to provide better long-term financial security because once our jobs don’t fill the void in our lives, we look for material possessions and financial security to do it. And all of this keeps us at the center of our own lives.
But to fulfill God’s big dream, we must keep our unique secondary callings aligned with our primary calling, to be disciples makers who make obedient disciple makers. God gives us our secondary passions to fulfill our primary objective. If you focus on growing in the goodness of God and intentionally seek to carry that goodness to others, you will find your secondary calling uniquely positions you to engage people in your life. The challenge is to keep the main thing the main thing. This is the only way you will get a real sense of fulfillment in your life and see forward movement as a follower of Jesus.
But how do we do this? How do we leverage our secondary calling as a way to fulfill our primary calling? By realizing we are meant to live sent lives.
The question is not “are we sent” but rather “to where and to whom are we sent?”
The answer is: to our neighborhoods and workplaces; to the community in which we live.
We talked about our neighborhoods last week, with Bless Every Home, but to be even more intentional, you can begin to identify where your neighbors, coworkers, and other members of your network are in their level of awareness or commitment to, Jesus. One way to think about this is the following:
- Level 1 is antagonistic – they are in opposition to or hostile to the person or message of Jesus.
- Level 2 is disinterested – they are not hostile, they are simply not interested in Jesus.
- Level 3 is an explorer – they are open and maybe even curious about Jesus.
- Level 4 is a believer – they are often in the church, maybe a bit unengaged but have otherwise confessed that Jesus is Lord.
- Level 5 is a follower – these people are obediently following Jesus, making the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (the rescue mission) priorities in their life.
So as you meet your neighbors, as you talk with friends, family and work colleagues, it might be helpful to figure out where they are at in their awareness or commitment to Jesus, in order to be more intentional in the way you engage them with the Gospel story.
Then, help each person in your personal network move up to the next level by doing the following:
- Oftentimes, you can help a level 1, antagonistic person move from distrust to trust by spending time with them. As they learn to trust you, as a follower of Jesus, they may move to level 2.
- You can help a level 2, disinterested person move from indifference to curiosity by them seeing something in you that stirs curiosity. When a disinterested person sees Jesus in you, they may become a level 3, curious explorer.
- A level 3 explorer needs to move from closed to open to change. When explorers come to a place of wanting what followers of Jesus have and when they have the way of Jesus clearly and simply explained to them, they have the opportunity to become level 4 believers.
- You move level 4 believers toward level 5 followership by helping them transition from self-centered lives to Jesus-centered lives. An invitation to follow Jesus on a whole new level fosters this kind of transition and is what we are regularly inviting people to at Connection Point Church.
Let’s not forfeit God’s big dream by replacing our primary calling with our secondary calling. Instead, let’s be intentional about engaging the people around us, helping them take next steps in their awareness of or commitment to Jesus. Let’s do this by being kind, present and brave with the people within our spheres of influence.
We’d Love to hear from you!
What secondary calling has God given you to fulfill your primary calling in? Share your comments below.