For the past ten years, I have had the opportunity to supervise the sabbatical experience of numerous InterVarsity staff. We have discovered that the space that a sabbatical provides is an excellent time to assess one’s call to ministry. What follows is the approach that I take to help an individual assess their call.
Your Spiritual Past
Spend some time reviewing your life with Jesus. Think of several instances where he invited you into opportunities for ministry and mission. What were the clues that he was prompting and leading you into those opportunities? As you look back over your time on staff, what have you learned either about the role itself or your fit with it that you didn’t know before you started?
If “call” is comprised of at least the following three components, how would you describe the strength of yours as you think about your future with InterVarsity? Consider the following categories and jot down some of your thoughts.
- Motivation—Do you have a growing sense of conviction, leading and desire within as you think of doing staff work?
- Need—Are you convinced of the need for the kind of ministry InterVarsity does?
- Talents—What experiences, gifts, skills and abilities do you bring to campus ministry?
Spend some time reading the following passages: Exodus 3:1-12, Nehemiah 1:1-2:6, Acts 6:1-7.
- Which passage best describes the way God has called you in the past?
- Which passage describes the pattern that your current decision seems to be following?
- Which approach from the 3 passages would you like God to use in communicating his call to you?
- Is there a discrepancy between which approach you desire and what is currently taking shape?
- Spend time journaling and praying about this. Ask God to bring your expectations in line with his activity.
What brings you most satisfaction in your staff role? Least?
List several other options you have for how you could use your gifts if you weren’t an InterVarsity staff member. Then make a list of the tradeoffs for each. For example, what you would gain and lose if you chose one over the other. Sit with this list for several days. Pay attention to how each scenario makes you feel. Spend time praying for God to guide and direct you.
InterVarsity Staff and Your Community (optional)
Make a list of 3 or 4 questions that are important to you as you explore these decisions about your future. Select a handful of friends, alum, donors, family members and/or co-workers who know you well. Ask them to tell you where they see you exercising your leadership gifts in the future. Ask them how they have navigated the challenges that different life seasons have brought for them. What did they learn from the choices they made? (It would be great if some of these people were in similar circumstances as you, e.g., same life stage, leadership gifts, etc.). You might ask them to pray for discernment for you as well.
Pulling it all together
None of these categories by themselves hold the magic key to your decision, but rather, they are designed to help you look at your life situation from a number of different angles. Once you have worked through the categories, sit with your thoughts and the feedback you have received from others and offer them to the Lord. Try not to fill the time with words, but rather be still and listen. Ask him to give you direction, confirmation and clarity.