• Steve Johnson

To What are You Called?



As a pastor, the question of calling comes up regularly in conversation. For me, the calling to vocational ministry has been a life-long process. Born into a family wounded by mental illness, the church was my home almost literally. The church taught of the marriage between justice and mercy on behalf of those who are poor and powerless. The church taught of the transformational love of God which heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds. There are days where hoping that the faithfulness of God could surpass anything I hoped or dreamed was all I had left.

For me, a vocational calling of ministry has risen out of the experience of God’s redemptive and healing work in my life. Having encountered the living Christ in my own life, I feel bound to live it to the praise of his glory. My own calling requires that I reflect this image of God to broken and hurting people who have experienced the same kind of life-altering darkness that I have.

As a people, this calling to vocational ministry tends to be the only kind of calling we actually talk about. This understanding of calling can be mysterious, elusive, intimidating, and at times divisive. There is a danger presented to us when our understanding of calling is exclusive to this one. It creates a perceived divide between those who are called to vocational ministry and those much-needed people who are called to lay leadership. The truth is that all are called by God.

In our gospel reading this week, John 1:43-51, the author presents us with a much more inclusive understanding of calling. The passage is situated at the end of Jesus’ call of his disciples. In response to the call of Jesus, Philip found Nathaniel and told Nathaniel that he had encountered the Messiah. Despite Nathaniel’s protest “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”, Philip responded with an invitation. His words were simply “Come and See.”

I understand this act of invitation to be Philip’s comprehension of his own calling. In many ways, this act of inviting others to come and see Christ anew is something to which each of us is called. I consider that a humbling reality as I am forced to question how many times I have made being called much more complicated than it needed to be. It also convicts me that my approach to inviting others may be ineffective because I have placed too much emphasis on my own importance.

So today, I would like to embrace this simple calling with you. I invite you to read the story and encounter it for yourself. And if you are compelled as I am, I invite you to tell others that they must come and see as well.


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Photos by Michelle Gould Photography,

Heather K. Barclay & Justin Leonard