“As I approached forty, I knew I was entering a new season of life and ministry, so I committed myself anew to finding what I was to do with the rest of my life. Instead of discovery, there was a rude awakening. As I faced such questions as What do I do best? and Where could I make the most impact? the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit whispered, “These are the wrong questions.” I thought to myself, What do you mean these are the wrong questions? They are the ones everybody else gets to ask! I didn’t want them to be the wrong questions. They were the only questions I knew, and more than that, they were the ones I most wanted answered. But the troubling idea that I was misguided did not go away. I began to pray and reflect on what was wrong with my quest; I searched the Scriptures. All to no avail. Then my misgivings began to take shape.
It dawned on me that there was not a single case in all of Scripture where someone went on a journey of self-discovery in order to find and follow God’s vocational call. I could not find a single case in Scripture where people went on a hunt for their vocational niche in light of their personality, gifting or experience. I had bought into the self-absorbed thinking that begins and ends with “who I am in Christ” (translation: what is my personal makeup and what it would take to make me fulfilled), and that became a license for the wholesale pursuit of personal pleasure.
In my journey through the biblical materials, I found that people were invited to do something (as with Jeremiah or the disciples), selected to do something (along the lines of David or Samuel) or presented with the opportunity to do something (as were ESter or Deborah). I could not find a single case of someone going off in search of their innate identity, much less trying to order their steps to fulfil who they were “made” to be. Not once did a biblical character say, “This is what would satisfy me, or make me happy, or allow me to be healthy and whole,” and then map out a strategy to make it happen. They simply lived their life in faithfulness and responded to what God brought their way. They submitted their gifts and abilities, investments and labor, to him. And even if God never brought anything their way, they embraced their place in life with the belief that at the very least that had been brought their way.”