6 Ways to Know If You’ve Been Called By God

6 Ways to Know If You've Been Called By God

When called by God, following God’s call was one of the toughest things I ever had to do. And what made it especially hard is that the same questions kept coming up every few years until I’d settled them for good.

In college I sensed God calling me to care for the poor, hungry and oppressed in other nations. And after graduating, I went to do just that, first in Indonesia and later in the Dominican Republic. Case closed, right?

No, when Karen and I had three babies in the first five years of marriage, it got confusing. Yes, I had heard a call, but now I had new responsibilities and new opportunities to make money. I had to go back to God and pray about it all over again. What to do? It was a struggle.

How do you know you’re called by God?

How about you? How do you know if you’ve been called by God? The first thing I had to recognize was that we’re all called by God. Paul writes, encouraging everyone: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1). We are all called by God. I could run, but I couldn’t hide from that call.

Beyond that, I had the example of God calling people in Scripture. The conversation between Paul and Jesus as recounted in Acts was especially helpful. Paul shares the story with King Agrippa. He says, Jesus told me this: “I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you” (Acts 26:16).

It’s a simple sentence, but it has a lot to teach us about the calling of God. Specifically, we can see six aspects of a call that apply to us.

1. Revelation  

“I have appeared to you…” 

The principle of revelation is that Jesus has made himself known to you.

Have you had a revelation? Has Jesus made himself known to you? Think back to the first time you ever came to grips with the person of Jesus. I was about eight. I remember my mom sharing the story of how Jesus had been so cruelly tortured. In that moment, Jesus made himself known to me.

Jesus appeared to Paul in a dramatic fashion; to others of us he reveals himself in a more subtle way. We are accountable for the glimpse of Jesus which we have been given. This is the start of our relationship with him.

If you have not met the person of Jesus Christ, then you are missing God’s plan for your life. He may not be as dramatically obvious as he was with the apostle Paul, but He does desire to appear to you.

This prompts a question: Have you seen Jesus and responded to him?

2. Role  

“…to appoint you…” 

God made us with an inbuilt need for purpose. The principle of appointment is that Jesus wants to give you a role.

The Bible says that God is not willing that any should perish and he has enlisted us to make sure that they don’t. When an army recruit enlists, he is given a rank and a role. When Jesus appears to us, he not only does so to save us, but to save the world through us.

Dwight L. Moody said, “For years Jesus has been leading me where I never could have gone myself.” Where has he been leading you?

Many of us have never listened for or responded to Jesus’ appointment. And in the absence of information, we make assumptions about what we should be doing. Let me encourage you to block out time in your calendar just to pray and hear from God about his appointment.

What is the role that he has given to you?

3. Servanthood 

“…to appoint you as a servant…” 

The principle is that you are called first to be a servant.

What does Jesus appoint us to do? First, he calls us to learn the role of a servant. This may have been easier to learn in Jesus’ day when class distinctions and slave status were prevalent.

Too many Christians have never made Jesus Lord of their lives. He is their savior, but not their master. We have become a church of takers rather than servants.

Gen. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” Have you surrendered your house, your car, your dreams, your family to Jesus? Only after we take up His agenda can we receive His commission. If you’ve done so, then, with Paul, you’ve taken on the role of a servant.

Have you responded to His call to serve?

4. Witness

“…and as a witness…” 

God has also called you to be a witness.

A witness is one who testifies. We are called to testify to what we know of Jesus. We know, for example, that Jesus has given us the gift of eternal life. We know that he desires to give that same gift to everyone else. We testify to what we know.

Have we taken on the role of a witness? Are we bothered by the fact that so many in the world are struggling to find hope? Are we looking for ways to boldly give an account of what God is doing in our lives?

Where has he called you to be a witness?

5. Observation   

“…a witness of what you have seen of me…”

The principle of observation states that You can only witness to what you have seen of Jesus.

Some of us hide behind the excuse that “my faith is a personal thing,” when in fact, we haven’t seen enough of him to make an impact on us.

Growing up, I was anything but bold about my faith. I had kind of borrowed a relationship with Christ from my parents. So I didn’t have much boldness. I mostly fumbled with words when it came my time to share who Jesus was to me.

To be like him or to share him with others, we must first see him.

What have you seen of Jesus?

6. There’s More 

“a witness…of what I will show you” 

Your witness changes as Jesus progressively reveals himself.

Our testimony is like bread—it must be kept fresh. If allowed to grow old, its staleness becomes evident. Our walk with Jesus is a daily, ongoing thing.

Our testimony or witness of his power in our life should be continually updated as he continues to regenerate us and show new aspects of his character. He has promised to show more of himself as we walk with him.

The point here is that we must continually choose to walk in the right way and to grow in Christ, and as we do so, we have a fresh witness. We share with others our own ongoing experience.

People need to hear an immediacy and relevance in our witness. They know what day-old bread looks like. They don’t want crusty stuff, they want reality.

As you live your life, are you experiencing more of Jesus?

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To sum up, we are all called. What Jesus gave Paul he gives to us all. None of us are second-class believers. He calls us to share what he’s given with a needy world. You have a call. Why not step into it?

This article originally appeared here.

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Seth Barnes
I'm a work in process. I've found that the main thing one needs in a relationship with God is hunger to know Him and be in His presence. As for the rest of my life, Karen and I are going through a transition as three of our five children are leaving the nest, leaving us with our two youngest, two dogs & a cat. One of our great consolations is the wonderful group of friends at AIM. They are truly the body of Christ to us. Life here is always an adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way!

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