There is a lot of talk in today’s leadership culture on “calling” and that we are designed to live on mission—to do something with our lives we are uniquely created to do. No doubt, most of us have at one time or another wondered what our purpose is, and how we can live out our passions while making a lasting impact in this world. Best selling books, blog posts, conferences, and podcasts are endlessly available in our search for meaningful work, the right formula, and that elusive thing known as “balance,” attempting to help us live out what we love alongside our day-to-day responsibilities.
The Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Romans resolved in his calling (Romans 1:1-7). In verse 7, he greets his readers with a powerful statement that those of us in leadership can easily let slip by:
“To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Loved by God. Called as saints.
Notice the truth that you are loved comes before the fact you are called.
Paul, a man who once hated followers of Christ, persecuted the church, and attempted to destroy any remnant of Jesus’ legacy, had intimately experienced the love of God. He knew anything good coming from him was birthed from the knowledge of the irrevocable, unconditional love of God, even while he was most unlovable. Once the love of God was revealed to him, he became unstoppable in his calling and throughout his writings we read his calling was fueled by love.
If we do not believe in the depths of our souls how beloved we are, our calling, our ministry, and our lasting impact will be impaired.
Even Jesus—God’s Son who was fully God and fully human—heard that He is loved. Before He began His earthly ministry, before He called His disciples, and before He did anything worth recording in Scripture, He emerged from the waters of His baptism to the sound of God’s voice saying, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:17)
As ministry leaders, we long for others to know the love of God so much that we are easily distracted by the work and forget His love ourselves. We see this played out in our control issues, our tendencies to be people pleasers seeking the approval of others, and most obviously in our fatigue. Our very best intentions of seeing others be set free can hinder our own freedom to rest in the love of Christ.
Today, I want to encourage you to examine your approach and value of anything that’s getting in the way of you simply enjoying the truth that you are loved and belong to Him. We would do well to pay attention to this not only for our own benefit, but also for those we love and for the endurance in this race set before us.
- For our own benefit. Taking time to enjoy the presence and love of the Father is a vital part of self-care for leaders. Simply put, you can’t give what you don’t have. Regular times of interacting with Scripture just for ourselves, reflecting on the character of God and how He deals with His people, helps us see how loved we are and how God is moving among us.
- For those we serve. The love of God fuels our patience, kindness, and compassion and allows us to open our tent pegs wider. We have a larger depth of reserves for those we serve when we take time to fill up on the presence of God.
- For those we love. Leadership takes a toll on our families and other important relationships. It can become a distraction and our priorities are easily misaligned. When our awareness of God’s love is heightened, it humbles us and we are less likely to do more than we should at the expense of our loved ones, our marriages, and friendships.
- For endurance. We’ve had no shortage of stories of leaders who burn out or fall prey to temptations disqualifying them to lead. An ongoing awareness and acceptance of God’s love will allow us to continue in our leadership calling and finish well to the glory of God.
You are the beloved of Christ. You were loved before you loved Him, and you were fully welcomed before you accomplished anything. May your joy be found in these truths today.
Suzie Lind is a freelance writer and speaker who recently relocated to the Nashville area with her husband Steve and four sons in search of wide open spaces and sweet tea. She has served as a women’s pastor and in several church staff positions relating to discipleship and organizational leadership throughout her ministry. Her greatest joy is soaking up the truths and revelations of God’s Word and sharing them with others.