I spent last weekend with dear friends in Minnesota. I met Jenny and Neil thirteen years ago when Neil was the associate pastor of the church we attended. We knew from the moment they arrived our church was the recipient of a treasured gift in this special pair- two dynamic servants for the price of one. I fell in love with both of them immediately.
Neil is an instigator: he challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone, providing a safe space to wrestle with the deeper questions of my faith. Jenny is an encourager: she nurtured me, cheered me on and inspired me with her incredible heart for others. Both named me well by pointing out the places where they saw gifts and talents I could use for the Kingdom; in some cases, gifts I didn’t yet recognize in myself.
It was Neil who first encouraged me to put my writing out into the world on a blog. It was Jenny who first encouraged me to speak to women’s groups.
Fast forward to last Saturday when I found myself in their church in Minnesota sharing this story with a group of women who also love Jenny and Neil. Our topic was turning up the volume on God’s voice by connecting with one another. I lead my first women’s retreat at their church in 2011 and I was thrilled to be invited back to share the Being Brave message that has become my passion. Each of the 40+ ladies in attendance were an inspiration and a delight. I love when life comes full circle.Finding our calling is not a solitary journey. Click To Tweet
I have recently been intrigued by the idea of calling: the sense of purpose or drive which motivates us to do the things we do and live the way we live. In my usual fashion, I have been pondering out loud about calling here on the blog. If you have not read the other posts, here are the links:
- Part 1 Calling involves finding the unique ways we love other people
- Part 2 Calling involves aspiring to be our better self
- Part 3 Calling involves paying attention to our NO’s as well as our YES’s
We do not discover our purpose or calling in a vacuum. Part of the trial and error of learning about ourselves is gathering feedback from our environment. As we engage in unfamiliar activities and learn new skills, we watch to see how the world around us is impacted. Even as tiny children, we look to the big people in our life to tell us when we are on the right path.
- You are a fast runner! You look like you are having fun when you run.
- I like how you encouraged your friend when you said ____. You are a thoughtful friend.
- You are really good at drawing/ doing puzzles/ playing soccer/ solving math problems.
- Your face lights up when you tell stories. You have a great imagination!
While it seems natural to encourage the children in our life in these ways, we are less likely to share the things we notice with our fellow adults. How often do we offer similar observations to our friends?
- You have great leadership skills. I’ve noticed how often others seek your opinion.
- You are such an encourager. You always make me feel good about myself.
- I love the things you share in our small group. Have you ever thought about teaching?
Years ago, a much older lady was sitting in front of me in church. At the end of the service, she turned to me and introduced herself. She then took my hands in hers, looked me in the eye and said “You have a beautiful voice. Jesus would want you to be in the choir.”
I joined the choir the following week.
We have great power to influence one another and name each other well. If we are curious about the people around us, we will naturally notice their gifts, strengths and contributions. We simply need to pay attention. And even more importantly, we need to tell them what we see. I often hear a voice within me whisper the invitation to share something positive I am noticing about another person. In recent years, I am learning to accept that invitation more frequently. I have never regretted my choice to say YES to being part of someone else discovering the way their gifts are impacting the world around them.
We hear God’s voice more clearly when we are connected to and listening to one another. When God calls us, He often uses the people around us to confirm our calling or get us started in the right direction. More often than not, other people will see our gifts and passions before we do. If you are hearing a similar message repeatedly, it might be time to pay attention. Those conversations are not coincidences but a flashing arrow pointing us to our next right thing. Click To Tweet
Get curious. Pay attention. Speak words of encouragement. Listen to the names you are given.
God isn’t hiding. He wants to call us into our next brave thing. Let’s participate in the work He is doing by naming each other well.
I want to hear from you! Share with us an example of how someone named you well and it led you to something you might not have discovered on your own.