Finding meaning and purpose in life through service to the world can transform a person's life. Many people find their life's calling through service, shaping their work for years to come. Others discover that they can serve the world through their everyday lives at work, with family and friends, and in the various groups and communities to which they belong.
Watch the stories of four people discovering their calling through service to the world and how it transformed their lives.
Rosalind Sadowski is the Youth Empowerment Manager at Fresh Roots, a non-profit organization working with school communities to grow farms. Rosalind’s main job is running a program that empowers secondary school students to cultivate and steward ½ acre schoolyard farms for learning, community building and growing food. Rosalind is passionate about working with these kids and she truly believes that the work with Fresh Roots is making a difference in the world. “Every seed that you plant is essentially hope for the future. You plant a seed, and you're hoping that something is going to grow."
As a co-founder of Street Thug Barbers, every Sunday Cameron Sterling and his wife head to Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where they meet up with friends and fellow barbers to give haircuts and massages to those in need. “The name street thug barbers originated tongue in cheek with my background: being in and out of prison and on drugs. I’ve lived that life. I wanted to give back to something I believe in, I wanted to actually do something. I believe there's a reason I went through everything I went through. If I wasn’t giving back now, I believe I went through all that in vain. I'm doing a haircut and I'm connecting with somebody on the Downtown Eastside ----- listening to their story. And now I'm here with the love of my life giving back. It's just, it's the coolest feeling ever.”
For over 15 years, Elaine Leung worked as a marine biologist, specializing in threatened marine mammal species. The work took her all around the world and she witnessed first-hand some of the horrible realities of what is happening to the ocean and all the wildlife that call it home. “I was at a period of my life where I felt like I was not fulfilling my purpose in life. I wasn't doing what I was meant to do. I want to teach people how to love and protect our oceans. I asked myself: How do I do that? What am I passionate about? What do I want to do with my life? What makes me passionate? I want to make the world a better place.” Based on her belief that children are our hope for the future, she founded Seasmart, a non-profit that delivers engaging education programs to inspire and empower youth to love and protect our oceans.
In Wilmington, North Carolina, Amy Wright's coffee shop offers employment and a community for 40 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In Jewish tradition, at the climax of the prayer service recited three times a day that recognizes the Oneness of God, the liturgy reads: “You are to repair the world for the sake of bringing God’s Reign on earth, so that all humankind will call Your Name….” This is the call to social justice. This is the recognition that God left work to be done to perfect the world, to repair its brokenness--tikkun olam—to strive for shalom, a Hebrew term normally translated as “peace,” but that comes from the root word for “wholeness.” You cannot be whole when the world is not whole. The spark of divinity in you is moved when you encounter a human being, made in the image of God, in desperate need. This is not just about generosity of spirit; it is about the Spirit Within calling the heart to act. (Ron Wolfson, God’s To-Do List)
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Things need repair in our community, our nation, and world. Take a few moments to consider how you are already in service to the world or how could be in service to the world.
There are so many ways to serve the world. Each of us has gifts and opportunities and resources that we can bring to serving others. Take time to discover how you are called to serve, who you are called to serve, and with whom you are called to serve.
How might you discover your calling to serve the world at this time in your life?
Watch the video, Discerning God's Call, by Jennifer Haworth and then use the reflection questions below to help you discern God's call.
Consider these three insights as you begin discerning how God is calling you at this time in your life.
1. Pay attention to your daily experience and what it stirs within you.
In the stuff of everyday experience - your hopes, your fears, your dreams, your routines - God is at work, inviting you to notice what brings you joy, what you're good at, and what others need you to do. Pay attention to where God is active in our life.
2. Reflect on what you notice, sorting and sifting in order to understand what is leading you to an abundant life and what is not.
Understanding develops through reflection, taking the time to see the patterns in your experience, and grasp their significance. While you can begin to notice and interpret God's action in our lives individually, if you want to hear deeply, see clearly, and choose wisely, trusted companions on the journey are essential.
3. Take loving action on what you have learned.
Discernment does not end with becoming aware of how your experiences are drawing you closer to or further away from God. You must eventually decide what you want to do with this knowledge. How will you act on what you've learned?
We grow into our distinctive callings if we are willing to become aware of God's movement in our lives, to reflect on this movement prayerfully alone and with others, and to take loving action on what we have learned.
Questions for Discernment
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
(Isaiah 58:6-9, NIV)
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:34-40, NRSV)
We have a call,
To be loved,
and to love,
To be shown mercy,
and to show mercy,
To be forgiven,
and to forgive,
To receive hope,
and to offer hope ,
To know joy,
and share joy,
To feel peace,
and bring peace,
To be made whole,
and offer wholeness.
We have a call,
Do you hear?
Lord, grant us simplicity of faith
and a generosity of service,
that gives without counting cost.
A life overflowing with Grace,
poured out from the One
who gave everything,
that we might show
the power of love
to a broken world,
and share the truth
from a living Word.
Lord, grant us simplicity of faith,
and a yearning to share it.
(From: Faith and Worship. https://www.faithandworship.com/Prayers_Encounters_with_Gods_people.htm)
Open my eyes that they may see the
needs of the poor;
move my hands that they may feed
touch my heart that it may bring
warmth to the despairing;
teach me the generosity that
let me share my possessions to clothe
give me the care that strengthens the
make me share in the quest to set the
In serving the needs of the poor may
we grow closer to you.
We are hoping that you will continue your journey - growing deeper in your sense of calling and finding ways to live your calling in everyday life. We want to offer our encouragement and support - and a few ideas to help.
#1. Engage in daily reflection and prayer.
Start using the Daily Reflection to conclude your day (at the end of Engage & Explore section). Try one or more of the following apps to incorporate prayer into your daily life.
3-Minute Retreats invite you to take a short prayer break right and spend some quiet time reflecting on a Scripture passage.
Pray As You Go is a daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time, and lasting between ten and thirteen minutes with music, scripture and some questions for reflection.
Daily Prayer is an experiential app designed to develop long lasting spiritual rhythms of prayer and scripture reading. Join in prayer and read scripture in the morning, in the midday, in the evening, and/or in the late evening.
Abide is a Christian meditation app to stress less and sleep better. Find deep rest with our bedtime stories, as you listen to stories based off the Bible. Wake up with our daily meditations that will fuel your mind for the day ahead.
Soulspace meditation app has been created to help anchor your thoughts to the love of God and the way of Jesus. Soulspace seeks to rid the soul of fear and stress while filling it with truth and life. This creates the opportunity for true and lasting wholeness.
#2. Have a conversation with a "calling companion."
Find a significant trusted relationship - family member, friend, colleague - who can be your "calling companion." Find time for a cup of coffee together or video chat. Share the story of your journey toward discovering your calling. Share your highs and lows, good days and difficult ones, in discovering and living your calling. Turn to your calling companion regularly for support and encouragement.
#3. Grow through reading about calling.
We have selected several books to deepen your understanding of calling and vocation. Each book offers practical ideas for living your calling now and into the future. Go to our Resource page for the description of each book.
#4. Find a group of people who share your interest in serving the world.
There are groups and organizations in your community that are engaged in serving others - locally and globally. You can search online for groups who are addressing your interest or concern. Check out support groups sponsored by local religious congregations, community organizations, schools, etc.
There are websites that can assist you as well.
You can find (and build) local support groups by using the MeetUp website and app to meet new people, learn new things, find support, and pursue your passions with others.
#5. Find support and encouragement in a local faith community.
We want to encourage you to consider connecting to a local faith community that can support you in discovering and living your calling today. Congregations are great places to discover service opportunities and join others in service to the community and world. They are also great places to find a course, attend a presentation, participate in a small group study or a support group, of course, worship with a community of people.
To make it easier to find a faith community in your area we have developed a list of churches with a link to their website so you can learn more about their ministries, and another link to what they are doing to support people in discovering and living their callings.
You find a welcome home in a faith community that wants to support you and help you live your calling at this time in life.
Go to All Called Connect.