Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Called versus uncalled


Some claim a special divine calling into the service of God. That service is often though not exclusively a teaching/leadership role. Most such claims to a divinely inspired service involve expounding God’s instructions, revelations, and requirements to the masses. Quite obviously such a claim is momentous to the extreme. No role could be more significant than that of instructor for God.  In that regard, many hold these called servants in very high esteem, absorbing their instructions and following their interpretation of God’s will. The entire existence of the institution known as the church is predicated on these divinely chosen ministers who provide its leadership and maintain its status and influence.

Since most in Christianity don’t claim instructor for God as their vocation, I assume that most Christians do not feel called in the way that these ministers do. They may recognize and accept a Christian responsibility to teach others but not in the manner or to the extent that these professional Christians do. For the most part, the people in the pews face the challenge of living and working in the world outside the church and practicing their faith, including its role as instructor, in coordination with largely secular pursuits. Fulltime clergy have a secular life as well, but their vocation insulates them from more of the secular world than the average church member.

The relationship between divinely called ministers and the average church member has been established by longstanding tradition within all denominations. There are marked differences, but a certain deference toward the clergy is a part of all such traditions. When ever we seek instruction from another we defer to their knowledge and ability to teach.  When the instructor is supposedly appointed by God, that deference is an implied requirement.  

Thus any claim of divine calling has the inevitable, if subconscious, effect of elevating the called one. Such a calling makes the person called somehow worthy of God’s specific attention to the exclusion of the vast majority of Christians. Additionally, if God selects some people to be the sanctioned instructors of others, then God must provide additional enlightenment to the ones selected. Instructors, by design, must be more enlightened on the subject than their students.

In our day I often hear people claim a divine calling in connection with largely secular activities, including politics. Here again by implication a person called by God to politics must have God’s own blessing and support in fulfilling that role. What does that say about those who claim no similar divine sanction to their political views and efforts? Obviously they are less worthy and therefore inferior. An unsubstantiated claim to God’s appointment to whatever role then serves as a blanket device elevating the claimant to a position of assumed superiority.

I don’t doubt God’s guidance in our decisions, including those related to vocation; but I find the idea that God appoints some to be the divine teachers and overseers of the rest of us a bit difficult to reconcile. If meekness and humility are the virtues Jesus proclaimed them to be, the elevated status of a divine calling, with all the implications of assumed superiority, seem oddly out of place to me.