Christie and I just finished up a great couple of days in Indian Wells at our denomination’s annual conference. We enjoyed the time away, and it was a wonderful opportunity to worship, rest, and learn.
The speaker for the conference was Chris Brown, who pastors in Vista, the town next door to Oceanside, where we used to live. He did a tremendous job, and he gave me and the rest of our staff a lot to think about and implement in the coming weeks.
One of the most memorable things Chris said all weekend was the title of this post.
Pursue your calling, not your potential.
He cited 1 Corinthians 7, which more or less makes it clear that if you want to fulfill your potential, don’t get married and don’t have a family. If you are unburdened by those responsibilities then you will be able to devote yourself entirely to your career. The context of 1 Corinthians 7 refers to ministry, but the principle extends to any career.
Once you get married, your calling changes. Your calling is now to love your wife.
Once you have kids, your calling changes again. Your calling is now to love your wife, and love your kids.
And as a pastor, that is your ministry.
If you fail at those things, you fail.
Doesn’t matter how much “success” you have at church.
Chris told a story of two pastors he encouraged to allow their wives to have a say in their schedules. They laughed it off, saying that if they did that they wouldn’t work for two weeks. He said then that probably meant they needed two weeks off. They laughed again, saying he was crazy.
Both of those guys are divorced and out of ministry.
Guess he’s not so crazy.
The truth is, whether we’re in ministry, government, for-profit, non-profit, NGO, or any other kind of work, we can just about kill ourselves trying to live up to our potential.
I want to work hard to be successful just as much as the next guy, and I feel the weight of that on a daily basis.
I feel tremendous pressure to produce excellence.
And working hard it not a bad thing. It is a good thing that honors God.
But it’s not the ultimate thing. Fulfilling my potential is not the ultimate thing.
Fulfilling my calling is the ultimate thing.
And it’s your ultimate thing, too.
And if you’re married with kids your calling is to love them.
I’m reminded of what Andy Stanley said at a conference years ago. God doesn’t tell us to build the church. He builds the church. But God does tell us to love our wives.
So I need to love my wife, and love my (soon to be) kid(s).
I need to give her control of my schedule.
I need to schedule an “event that I can’t get out of and that can’t be interrupted” at least one or two nights per week, and that event needs to be wasting time with my wife and watching my kid squirm.
And when the bell rings to go to work I need to work hard to fulfill that part of my calling.
But I need to do so remembering that my calling at work will never, and can never trump my calling at home.