The Postponement Theory
The conversation began when the professor in my first master’s class asked me if I was postponing my calling to get more education. My instructor said that she has noted many women of our time who postpone their calling because they felt they needed more education to do what God had called them to do. Or they postpone their calling for motherhood or they postpone their calling for their husband’s career. She asked me, “If you were a man, do you think you would have felt the need to pursue more education, or do you think you would have just kept doing the ministry you were called to do?”
This discussion held a lot of tension and questions for me that demand answers and truth. It has led to a lot personal reflection with God and extremely interesting dialogue with others.
At a recent conference, I sat over coffee with a dear friend and mentor and told her about the dialogue with my university professor. I asks her about her thoughts on the postponement theory. What was interesting was what followed. Our table doubled in size and then tripled until seven women sat around a coffee table, barely designed for two. That conversation was followed-up by a blog the following week by one of the women at the table and a lengthy and stimulating Facebook discussion on the postponement theory.
As I reflected with others about the tension of the postponement theory, I realized that I was not the only one struggling with questions. But for me, all the questions led back to one word whose definition had lost its way in the mired of feelings, social pressures, and personal identity issues.
That word is, calling.
The Merriam- Webster online dictionary defines calling in two ways. The first definition of calling is: a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence. The second definition of calling is: the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.
As you can see from the above definitions, the word calling is often interpreted as vocation, job title, assignment, service, or opportunity. When you read the biblical definition below, you will understand why it is so easy to be confused about the definition of calling.
The New Bible Dictionary states that the interpretation of calling as an occupation is incorrect. The divine calling of each person is to bear the name of Christian. We are called to follow and belong to Jesus, responding to that call by service. Therefore, service is not calling. Service is the response to following Jesus with a whole-heart.
The word calling or called appears over 700 times in the Bible. Here is one example of scripture.
New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
We find both Greek words Kleros and Kaleo are used in the passage above and are translated: to call, invite, summon. The authority of the speaker dictates the nature of calling, (friends invite; kings summon). This is also translated “to name,” the giving of attribution to someone or something: – called.
In the book, The Way of Life: A Theology of Christian Vocation the author Gary D. Badcock states that calling is about who one is, not what one does. Our goal than is to follow the voice of Jesus that calls us, not the need for significance behind a title or vocation.
In the world of women’s ministry it is common to hear women say they gave up their calling for one reason or another…family, caring for a sick family member, or a husband’s vocation. But if one understands her true calling, she will never feel she is giving up anything regardless of the season of life she enters.
My friend, Lisa McKenney is a real example of a women who has embraced her calling during every season. When I first met Lisa, she had a thriving ministry in the church. She was enjoying living her “calling” to minister to the women of the church and had no plans to step away. But in her time with Jesus she heard the voice of God whisper to her time in that role was done. This was a surprising prompting so she committed this decision to prayer and the counsel of close friends. She felt a peace that this was the voice of God. Even though this was an unexpected direction change she chose to be obedient to God’s prompting and walked in obedience. What followed was the opportunity to give her four children and husband several years of her undivided ministry.
Each day of Lisa’s walk with Jesus, she has listened for His voice, being obedient to his call. Lisa has invested time and energy into her relationship with God and others and the fruit is evident.
Today, Lisa has said yes when God gave her the opportunity to fight human trafficking with She’s Worth It. (shesworthit.org) Lisa didn’t know what she might be able offer, but when she reflected on what gifts God had given her to use, she was inspired to create jewelry to raise money for She’s Worth It. She gave from the resources she had in her hand and today, Lisa is only ONE necklace away from raising $11,000 to help stop these horrific crimes against women! (Read Lisa’s story here: http://shesworthit.org/2013/03/10/the-power-of-yes/)
If you asked Lisa, would she consider her calling jewelry designer or social entrepreneur, Lisa would say neither. She defines her calling with these words… Create Beauty, Connect Deeply, Speak Healing… Lisa is committed to saying YES to Jesus… using whatever talents and resources God has given her in that season so that the world will see Jesus and God will be glorified!
I am inspired. Aren’t you? What if we all said YES to Jesus? We could say goodbye to the postponement theory!