What do you LOVE to do? What are you GOOD AT doing? What do you DREAM ABOUT doing? What are you PASSIONATE about? Whether you know it as such or not, that, most likely, is the thing that God has called and gifted you to do. It doesn’t matter what it is; if you are a lover of God, He has placed that thing in you and that is your calling – the thing that you were placed on this earth to do. That thing – that Royal assignment – is for you the most important thing in the world.
It may be farming – tilling the ground, planting seed, cultivating it and harvesting it. It may be caring for animals. It may be building or repairing engines. It may be architectural design. It may be teaching and inspiring others. It may be drawing, painting or sculpting. It may be composing music or singing or playing on an instrument. It may be preparing food. It may be gathering herbs and preparing herbal teas and tinctures. It may be cleaning and organizing. It may be writing words so as to communicate ideas and thoughts. It may be interpreting words that others have written, perhaps in a foreign language, so that others may understand. It can be anything that follows - and does not violate - God’s principles of truth. But here’s the thing: there is NO calling that is higher than yours. For YOU, the calling that God gave you is the kingdom over which you have been called to rule, and there is no calling, no kingdom, that is higher. Someone else’s calling is not higher than yours. There is no other king who is higher. There is no other earthly kingdom that is superior. Only the King of Kings Himself and the Kingdom of Heaven is higher. And you answer to Him.
In Exodus 31, God told Moses that He had called and gifted one Bezaleel to work with his hands with precious metals and wood in order to craft the tabernacle. There was no higher calling … not for Bezeleel. The priests – back when there WAS a “clergy class” (professionals who God called to work jobs within places He designed to be set apart for worship; today ALL believers are priests … there is NO separate priest class and nobody who is to be our advocate before God the Father other than God the Son, Jesus Christ) – did not have a higher calling. There was no such thing as “full-time Christian service” back then. Paul told the Ephesians to, individually, “live a life worthy of the calling that YOU have received. (You can’t live someone else’s calling, and someone else can’t live yours, but for each of you, YOUR individual calling is the highest calling that there is on the earth.)”
Yes, some versions of the Bible say to “obey those who have the rule over us.” Those translations are poorly worded. Do not be afraid to break out the tools that are freely available to us now. Not so long ago the scriptures were written only in Latin, only the “priests” in the church were trained to read Latin, and only the church possessed copies of the scriptures. Thanks to the invention of the printing press, we are not so limited in our access to God’s words today, but still we are hemmed in by translations that were produced with an agenda, presented from the platforms of institutions with an agenda, spoken aloud by professional speakers with an agenda, and of course they would tend to favor a Bible that tells us that “we” are to obey – submit ourselves to – “them.” That is not what the Word of God says.
The Word of God says that we (who would hear the wisdom of God) should allow ourselves to be influenced by those who are closer to Him. That is not “closer” by virtue of occupancy of some office of authority, because there is no such office in the New Testament; it is closer by virtue of honest relationship with Him. Romans 13:1, more accurately, tells us to allow ourselves to be influenced most by the “authority” in any situation that is closer to God – the HIGHER authority; the one most discerning the voice of God or doing things God’s way in that particular arena. (The “higher authority” or “higher power” is not a reference to an office; it is simply positional: which is higher, closer to God – to the Source of True Authority?) And, by the way, that is almost NEVER a “civil government authority” of the sort that that particular passage of scripture is most often said to represent. For, if it were to be speaking of an office of authority, most of the heroes of the Bible were in rebellion against the government that was over them and, thus, to God’s command.) And guess what? The more that you submit yourself to the voice of God – the more that you step up and occupy the gift that He placed inside of YOU – the more often YOU may just be the conduit through which the voice of God may speak to others.
You will not be the voice of God, but the voice of God may speak through you.
We should not (completely) discount those who call themselves “clergy” just because they lay claim to an “office” of official authority that is nowhere assigned in scripture, especially not in such a way that may cause us to turn a deaf ear to the scriptures to which they may be giving voice at any particular time. Scripture does say that God may speak through the “foolishness of preaching.” (After all, He spoke once through a donkey!) And He promises that His Word will not return to Him void.
What we should discount, however – “take with a grain of salt” – is one who comes to us as with a voice of “authority” who deigns to tell us what to do on the basis of the authority of some office that has a name that appears to be scriptural but which is not, in actuality, an “office” to which God has given true “because I said so” authority. (There is only one of those, and we’ll address that at another time.) If anyone speaks to you the Word of God, receive it as such no matter whom it comes through, but remember that the Word of God itself admonishes us (Acts 17:11) to check what we hear with the Word itself and not just to take what we hear as being accurate or complete.
Authority, other than God’s divine authority (which He does not delegate), is contextual. YOU speak with authority when you are doing what God gifted you to do. And in that you are acting according to the gifting that God gave you, to that extent you speak with the authority of God. You do not have the authority – no one does – to tell anyone else, “You must obey me because I am the one in charge here; what I say goes,” but God may well choose to speak that clearly to someone else through what His Holy Spirit is communicating authoritatively through you. Make sense?
Look, if you are a mechanic, skilled in fixing automobile engines, you are the authority (the expert) on the side of the road alone with the governor who went out for a drive with his family and whose SUV’s engine is smoking.
If you have the voice of an angel, YOU are the authority (the talent) when you are wowing the judges and getting the golden buzzer on America’s Got Talent.
If you understand God’s provision of healing through herbs, YOU are the authority (the healer) when talking to an ailing neighbor.
If you are a trained firefighter, you are the hand of God (the defender/protector) to people running out of a burning building when there are others still trapped inside. Likewise for a police officer or paramedic/EMT.
There is no calling that is higher (to you than yours). When you exercise the creativity that is inside of you, you act as a creator in the image of the Creator Who created you!
Nobody has a right – let alone the authority – to talk down to you in that. Nobody’s authority is superior to yours in that. Anybody can encourage you in that and, in fact, that is what scripture commands us to do for each other – to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and to sharpen each other’s iron (Prov. 27:17). That is why the Word of God admonishes us to allow ourselves to be influenced by those who are higher – who are closer to God.
And how do we know who that is? The first clue is not that the person has an “office of authority” or that he makes authoritative demands of us: “Do this because I said so and I hold the title of ____!” No, it is the one who looks the most like Jesus. It is a word spoken to us in love. It is the word spoken to us that meets our needs. I Cor. 13 tells us that the love behind the spoken word is more important than the authority of the spoken word. And that is the difference between the “religion of Christianity” and “other religions” – it is driven by love, not by authoritative command. (“Convert or die! Obey or suffer!”)
Now, go speak that loving (and, by virtue of the love, authoritative) word to someone else. Use your gifts, your talents, your calling, your passion to lift up another. And if you’d like to explore some resources to help develop those resources within you, please respond back to this writer.