Finding…Knowing My Calling, Part 1 of 2

A Lenten personal reflection…

Oft said, there are two most significant days of life: The day one is born and the day one knows why one was born.

In Christian circles, Jesus’ baptism[1] is considered that “moment” when he knew who he was and why he was. The voice from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased”, echoed the ancient servant song of Isaiah.[2] That prophetic word of the mission of God’s chosen, Spirit-filled servant to bring justice to the nations through merciful perseverance, not unbridled, unprincipled power.

Reading the Jesus-story, especially the fast-closing chapter of his journey to Jerusalem, it seems to me, he understood his calling to challenge the authorities to grant equity in rights and privileges to the people. A challenge issued not with violence, but in virtuous love. In the end, Jesus loved his calling to death – his own.

Visualizing Jesus’ baptism – rising, soaking wet, from the Jordan River, blinking, wiping water from his eyes, seeing clearly who and why he was – I contemplate my life’s calling.

At the age of 70 with 45+ years of ordained ministry – meaning metaphorically and literally that I’m farther from the Jordan River of my beginning and closer to the Jerusalem of my ending – I ought to know my calling.

However, having lived this long, I also (think I) know that callings can and do change. As some olden words testify, “new occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.”[3] Thus, within the broad boundaries of a principal, relatively fixed vocation, the immediate call is fluid.

And, having lived this long, another thing I (also think I) know, there are many moments when I haven’t been clear about my calling. Nevertheless, I’ve gotten clearer about how I arrive at an awareness of my calling.

From my experience, I share three pathways…

To be continued…

© 2023 PRA

Illustration: Baptism of Christ (c. 18th century), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

[1] Mark 1.9-11

[2] Isaiah 42.1-4

[3] From the hymn, Once to Every Man and Nation based on the poem, The Present Crisis (1845) by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

4 thoughts on “Finding…Knowing My Calling, Part 1 of 2

  1. Paul,

    WOW you nailed this, but did you have to split it into 2 parts!! Yikes!! How long will we have to wait? Remember earlier this week, when I ran into (literally) a priest from the Diocese of Missouri who called me “The LEGO Lady” as we were coming / going for a tour of the Everglades??? Well who knew that being The LEGO Lady was going to “be my calling” … but clearly for this part of my life, it is…

    Your ministry and legacy is legendary and I’m guessing that you’ve helped thousands with your words of counsel and sermon, but I do agree that our callings can and probably should change over time. I think I’m fulfilling my greatest calling now …. and that our final and best calling comes during the last part of our lives when we combine the wisdom of what we’ve learned from our previous callings to give our best, as our last contribution. When people retire, many folks say “go live your best life” and that’s exactly what I think we are doing!




    1. My dear Loretta, sometimes (not always), I discern a need to divide a post into two or more parts. In the main, to make each segment shorter (more digestible) and, perchance, to encourage readership. Also, given my penchant for re-thinking a thing, again and again, I grant myself the time and space to dream into the subject. Often enough, I discover that I go and end up in a place I never could have imagined at the start!



  2. I’m excited for this Lenten season.


    1. I, too, Elizabeth, find an inner effervescence in regard, even more, in response to the annual Lenten season. In many respects, I live in Lent year-round. Peace be with you on the journey to Jerusalem.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close