Listening For Your Calling

  1. Samuel and His Calling – Scripture
  2. Samuel was Still and Quiet
  3. Samuel Sought Guidance
  4. The Age-Old Question
  5. Matt’s Moment of Calling

I originally crafted this message to present at the Cornerstone Christian Academy this past week. Unfortunately, school was canceled and we will need to reschedule. But I modified it as I still truly believe this message can be for people of all ages. You’re not too old to hear a calling from God. So long as you can hear and obey Him, he’s not done with you.

Samuel and His Calling – Scripture

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

1 Samuel 3:1-21 NIV

Samuel was in God’s House. He was in the place where God could speak to him clearly.

Samuel was Still and Quiet

Many times we fill our waking moments with so much noise and activities. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. But all that noise they create in our lives, blocks out chances to HEAR from God better.

Samuel didn’t have an option to be still and quiet. He was sleeping in his home, the temple…the church for our perspective, he woke to hear a voice and the only thing he could think of was that it must be the only other person here. Eli.

Samuel Sought Guidance

Not only was he available to receive this message, but he went to Eli, the one who guided him personally, spiritually. And when Eli gave him instructions, however strange it may have sounded to Samuel, Samuel obeyed. He followed through.

Think for a moment: Who in your life influences your thinking, your decision-making process? 

  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Pastors
  • Neighbors

Sam was told to return to the place where he heard the voice of God previously, then he was instructed to say, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”

When he followed through with these instructions, God responded to his request. Samuel Listened obediently as God Downloaded his plan. He shared with Samuel that Eli’s family wouldn’t continue in the ministry. Samuel would continue on in the ministry of the temple.

The Age-Old Question

Now, Why do I want to share this about Samuel and his call?

As I was preparing this talk for Cornerstone Christian Academy, It occurred to me that students get a lot of pressure to know what they want to be, to know what career path they want to take as they leave their teens and move into young adulthood. 

Well-meaning people like you and me ask them: “What do you want to be when ‘you grow up?’”

What about this one, “What are your plans after graduation?” 

Harmless small talk, but that’s a bit question that deserves more than just a pat answer.

Some students, I would venture to assume, are very clear with what they’d desire to do after twelfth grade. Maybe someone like you spoke a good word of influence in their lives to help them along their way. Helped guide their path.

Or maybe, just maybe you know someone who is still waiting to hear a clear calling from God. Some clear direction.

That was my story. Now that we looked at Samuels, I’d like to share my story with you.

Matt’s Moment of Calling

I was at Northwestern Illinois weekend youth retreat – I was probably 9th or 10th grade

Planned to go to a Christian college after highschool, but I wanted a clear direction as to what I would study before committing all that time and money.

I prayed and prayed. Every chapel service I could, I would be down at the altar praying. There were times I wasn’t sure why I felt compelled to pray at the altar. Later I realized I was getting ready, getting quiet. Allowing myself to be available – listening to what God might say.

Youth retreats are great for that. Getting away from distractions. From extra noise.

The speaker that weekend, let’s call him “Craig,” had been an acquaintance of mine from earlier that summer. I didn’t know Craig was an evangelist and I didn’t know he actually lived in Ohio. He had traveled that weekend to come speak at our camp, much like he would do other week long or weekend services around the U.S.

I had a chance to talk to him on the first day of the Retreat. We reconnected and I asked him about “calling” and hearing God’s voice…direction. He wasn’t able to sit down with me at that time and chat. We’d hope to connect sometime in the next few days.

I respected him….looked up to him and wanted his perspective.

And all of a sudden, Craig had to leave. That’s right. Craig’s wife all the way back in Ohio had gone into labor. He was going to be a dad and he needed to leave the retreat!

I sought out other leaders at the camp. Daniel was a member of the music team that weekend. He was a Student at the college I wanted to attend. Surely he would have some insight.

But as I asked for his story, the more he shared…the less I seemed to connect with it. It connected with my friend, but not with me. 

I had sought out guidance from people I looked up too. One had to leave and one wasn’t really connecting the dots for me.

I was open. I was quiet.

I was limiting my distractions, but STILL I hadn’t heard the word I needed to hear.

The night before Craig had to leave for Ohio and see his wife and new baby, he shared his story of a call to being an evangelist – or a revivalist if you’d like. Someone who travels and preaches at special services and events. He recalled having to spend a lot of time working at a grocery store, saving up money that he would use to travel around and speak at churches and events. When his money ran out, he was back at the store again working a regular 9-5, 40 hour a week job.

I specifically remember thinking to myself: I never want to have to work at a regular job and a church. I would rather just work at a church.

Fast forward to the end of the weekend. Craig had come back for the last day of the retreat. He happily shared the news that both baby and mom were doing well. His wife sent him back to finish out the Youth retreat!

I really don’t remember what he preached about during our last chapel. But I do remember our interaction just before I left to go home. 

Craig asked me if I gained any clarity about what I was praying about: about calling and ministry. I had thought maybe ministry was it, but I wasn’t sure.

I told him I hadn’t yet clearly heard.

He said something to me that I’ll always remember. It makes ZERO sense on it’s own face, but I meant something AMAZING to me. He reminded me of the speaker at last summer’s church camp. That guy had interns – essentially helpers who learned by following him around and doing what the preacher did.

Craig said to me “I can take interns too.”

But God said something VERY different through those words.

He said, “Matthew, I want you to speak for me.”

That’s all I got. I had received the answer to my prayer. I heard the calling on my life and it set some awesome things in motion. 

Now here I am. I get to pastor a small local church. In the past I’ve served in ministry, working with teens and children. And outside of the church, I’ve had many jobs: Project assistant, Papa John’s Pizza Shift manager, and I’ve worked in a grocery store now over 4 years, which financially supports my family and church. It gives me opportunities to minister to people who don’t know Jesus.

My final question I want you to pondered are this: are you still seeking God’s direction and will for your life? If so…

  1. What are you doing to quiet yourself enough to hear Him?
  2. Who can you seek guidance from to help you discern what you hear while you listen?
  3. Are you willing to be a positive influence on the life of another person, even a teen who is trying to figure out God’s call on their life?

These very important elements. No one’s future should be completely determined by their personal likes and dislikes. God’s Big picture is so big, we can not- as finite human beings- understand how expansive it is. All the details we would miss if we limited ourselves. 

Rather, we each need a clear calling from God – to do so requires quiet and patience

We need help from others we trust to confirm what the Holy Spirit is saying.

Are you quiet? Who do you trust? Will you be a trusted person?

Those are much better questions to answer than “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions! Hit up the comments section and tell me about your calling and how you hear it most clearly.

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