Living for the Lord

Binoculars on the beach

God’s Call

God calls all people to draw near him. Hillman refers to this as God’s primary call, the need to develop a relationship with our creator. When we speak of “our calling” in life, we often refer to our career or job. However, we are called foremost to God, not just a position, a career, or a location.[1] These activities are all important, but we can only realize their value through God’s purposes. We are all provided unique gifts. In Ephesians chapter four, Paul teaches that Jesus provides gifts to his people. All of our gifts are different by design. By being different, God makes us dependent on each other (Eph. 4:7-16, ESV).

Hillman refers to how we use our unique gifts as the functional call, and its purpose is always to serve the primary calling.[2] Through our functional calling, we first serve each other, and second, show God’s love to the world as the body of Christ.[3] In addition to each believer receiving gifts, Christ also places some of his people in leadership positions. In some cases, these are unique individuals called to lead the church, such as pastors and elders, but it also includes fathers leading their families and lay leaders within various ministries.


Seidel asserts that godly leadership starts from within—that it starts from the leader’s heart. What is on the inside reflects how the leader shepherds their people.[4] He continues to develop the idea of a servant leader, stating that they “are focused on (1) God’s Mission through ministry (2) the fulfillment of God’s purpose in the lives of the people in the ministry.”[5] These are the two characteristics of servant leadership and they parallel well with Hillman’s idea of primary and functional calling. First, servant leaders must be focused on God’s mission, just as we must realize that our primary call in life is a relationship with the one who created us. Second, the servant leader uses their unique gifts (functional call) to serve the people in their ministry. These characteristics are in stark contrast to the Roman leaders depicted in the New Testament. Seidel notes that the Gentile leaders were self-serving and lorded over the people entrusted to their care.[6] Godly leaders do not act this way.

A father is called to show the love of Christ to his wife and children, while the pastor is called to equip the saints and speak the truth in love. They are called to serve the people God has entrusted to their care and put their people’s needs before their own. Leading is not always easy, but leaders should remember that God allows both positive and negative experiences in their lives to work on their hearts.[7] He is calling us to him and serve those around us.


[1] George Hillman, “Calling and Spiritual Formation,” in Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ, ed. Paul Petitt (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2018), 198.

[2] Ibid., 200.

[3] Ibid., 210.  

[4] Andrew Seidel, “Leadership and Spiritual Formation,” in Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ, ed. Paul Petitt (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2018), 177.

[5] Ibid., 179.

[6] Ibid., 179.  

[7] Ibid.,180.  

Published by Tyler Tennies

Finding Life in the Word is my place to share thoughts on life. I write every day and my page is a good outlet to write about topics I’m interested in.

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