“God’s call for me” has been a life conundrum of mine.
From Corporate America To Ministry and Back
In 2001, I left corporate America (the paper industry) to go full time into ministry since I had recently received my Master’s Degree in Divinity. It seemed like a “higher calling” at the time. It made me feel good about myself to “do something meaningful”. That sounds arrogant now that I say it out loud….
In 2011, I left ministry (after getting my doctoral degree in ministry no less!!) and went back to work in the paper industry. In ministry, my mission was to help people know and see that they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9-10). I thought it was going to be an easy sell, but it didn’t work out so well. It was rather disappointing to have been unable to get more interest in such a great message!
Today, back in the paper industry, my job is to make toilet paper softer without losing strength. Today, my job is to bring softness to the backside of America without fear of our thumb ending up where it doesn’t belong. This seems like an easier sell. We all know we want that!!
What Are the Key Drivers?
When I was in ministry, I was always a little embarrassed to tell people what I did for a living (I didn’t have a “real” job). Today I miss the “meaning” associated with being part of something “greater” than where our thumbs end up after we’re finished with the toilet. I’m the kind of person who is never quite content, and this situation is no different.
Now that I’m crowding 50 years old, I wonder more and more about my “calling”. People have said I am a gifted preacher, but being a “pastor” didn’t work out so well. Today I focus on making toilet paper softer without losing its strength – bringing relief to the backside of America while preventing your thumb from ending up where it shouldn’t belong. I have been a foster and adoptive parent, a farmer, an entrepreneur, a landlord, an author and pastor.
The big questions:
- How do you know if you are executing God’s call for YOUR life??
- Does such a call even exist?
- What role does shame/ego/pride play in making those decisions for us?
Unmasking Shame Critical to Hear “God’s Call for Me”
I make the claim in my book that it may never have been “God’s call” for me to go into ministry, but that it was likely my own psychological issues (shame and narcissism) that drove me there. It was as much an issue about my own needs as it was any call from a higher power. While we all of have seen plenty of examples of this in the clergy, this concept took national headlines and became beautifully ironic in the last presidential election. Scott Walker declared it was God’s call for him to run for President of the United States only to later be called to leave the race. Both of which seem remarkably akin to what he personally wanted or needed to do while retaining his appearance of humility.
Driven by Fear
Fear is what shame uses to control us. We are driven by our fears in any number of ways:
- Fear of not being enough
- Fear of being seen as a failure
- Fear of letting people down
- Fear of not living up to expectations we or others have for us
- Fear of being discovered for who we really are (the actual definition of shame)
If we are unable to unmask this driver behind our decisions, it will continue to manipulate us into doing things “in God’s name”. This gives our narcissism and shame full run to do what it desires under the guise and guide of “God’s call for me”. There is no greater salve to our wounded souls than to know God wants (or better yet, needs) us for his mission. This can, and has, empowered great destruction throughout human history. It’s time to unmask what drives us so it no longer controls our actions which can spur us into places we should simply not go or prevent us from venturing to the places we should.