• Ben Whittinghill

Rethinking "Calling"

Failing Through Calling

I failed my church planting assessment.

I know that’s a strange way to start a blog for a church planting network, but it’s true. And what I appreciate about it now is that it proved that, left to my personality and my own abilities, I’m way under-qualified and should not be planting a church.

I remember being asked in a group interview in that assessment why I felt called to plant a church. This may reveal a little of why I failed, but I remember saying something like, “I don’t know that I necessarily feel called to church planting. But Jesus did tell me to start one in Brattleboro, Vermont, and I feel called to Him.”

That doesn’t sound super-convincing to people who are tasked with finding out if you’re going to survive as a church planter. But here’s the truth: Before I was ever called to church planting, I was called to Jesus. Before I was ever called to a place, I was called to a Person. And when you’ve seen Jesus in all of His beauty and glory, you’ll do anything He tells you to do.

The Spirit Of Isaiah's Calling

That’s what happened to Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:1-3, the prophet sees King Jesus high and lifted up in all of His glory, and his immediate response was to recognize his sinfulness and unworthiness in the presence of God’s holiness. Then after God mercifully cleanses Isaiah, He issues an invitation to His mission: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is. 6:8) Isaiah doesn’t ask God where He’s sending whoever responds. He doesn’t ask how long he’d be gone.

All he knows is that this glorious King who’s cleansed him and taken away his guilt is inviting someone to do something for Him, and Isaiah’s unqualified response is “I’m available to You! Whatever You say. Wherever You send me. I’ll go. Send ME.”

True calling to do anything for Jesus has to start with a vision of Jesus. And if we’ve seen Him, we’ll love Him. And if we love Him, we’ll obey Him. We’ll do whatever He wants because we’ve seen His glory and know He’s worth whatever He asks us to do.

The Basics Of Calling

For some reading this, that may be church planting. For all of us, it is making disciples. And for many, you can think of something specific that the Spirit of Christ is stirring in you right now, but you don’t know if you’re qualified. You don’t know if you’re “called” to the thing you feel He may be telling you to do. You may not be. But you are called to Jesus.

And Jesus always equips us to do what He’s called us to do. He’s made you sufficient by His Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6). He delights in using weak vessels to do the work of His kingdom so that He alone gets the glory when His Spirit moves in power.

More than we need God to give us fresh vision for the task He’s called us to, we need Him to give us a fresh vision of Jesus. And with fresh vision of Jesus and His glory, let’s echo Isaiah with absolute surrender and willingness to go and do whatever He says. We’re called to Him.

Vermont Church Planting exists to move church planters forward in engaging communities throughout Vermont with the gospel.
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