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Are You Driven to Succeed or Called to Serve?

Man sitting with folded hands deciding between being driven or called.

He Was a "Mover" and a "Shaker"

There was a “mover” and “shaker” in the Jewish community during the early days of the Christian church. He sought out Jews who were followers of Jesus the Nazarene, locking them in prisons, punishing them in the synagogues, and voting in favor of their execution (Acts 26:9-11). His name was Saul, a prominent Jewish reformer driven by a zealous dedication to the Mosaic Law, and his hatred for the followers of the Nazarene.

On one of his travels, a “light from heaven flashed around him.” He fell to the ground, and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” The voice identified himself as Jesus, and instructed Saul to go into the city, where he would be told what to do. Until then, he would be blind (Act 9:3-6).

Driven then Called

The man who had been driven by an obsession with protecting the status quo reinforced by the use of the Law, his prominence as a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” and a hatred of the early Christians, was now being called by God. Soon to be renamed Paul, he went on to be laser focused as the prophet of the Christian movement to the Gentiles, fulfilling his calling from God.

Driven, you drive. Called, you listen and respond.

In today’s fast-paced world, a world in which it’s easy to become driven by protecting the status quo in our lives, and getting caught up in the pursuit of more “things,” our focus is naturally outward. The driven person is highly competitive and has little time for principled living, or nourishing their inner person. The driven person, like the Apostle Paul who was struck blind by God on the road to Damascus, is blind to the matters of the heart and soul, where our God-sent Ananias waits to say we can see again (Acts 9:17).

Driven vs. Called

The driven person drives. The called person listens and responds, answering the call from God, a unique call fashioned in the mind of God. While the driven person’s focus is outward, getting things done, called persons take the time to listen to their heart and soul. They develop and nourish an inner core that supports the activity God requires to fulfill one’s destiny, regardless of challenges and setbacks.

At the center of that core, are the spiritual gifts, graces provided by the Holy Spirit, to help us fulfill our calling and the mission of God’s church. Part of responding to the call, is a daily effort to strengthen and be at peace in this spiritual core through prayer, reflective reading, meditation on Scripture, worship, thanksgiving, and spending quiet, intimate time with the Lord.

In conclusion, there is a sense in which one should be driven to succeed as a Christian. But it’s only in the passive sense, of being driven by God to do his will, to successfully fulfill his calling in our lives.

Additional reading:

Listen to God’s Words

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Also read: Jeremiah 1:25, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

In the Words of Others

“My life is too often driven by the fear of the next moment verses focusing on the privilege that I have the next moment.” Craig D. Lounsbrough

“It’s important to understand at every point of opposition to who we are or to what God has called us to do, we are presented with the options of either conforming and giving in or standing our ground and becoming stronger in who God has made us to be.” Gabriel Wilson

Think About It

  • Are you driven, keeping busy at the expense of relationships, service, and your inner spiritual life? How do you feel about that?

  • Are you a called person? If so, how, especially in your Christian walk? Or has busyness squeezed God out of your daily life?

  • How could you rearrange your schedule to spend more time with the people who matter in your life, especially the Lord?

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