Calling vs. Potential

We hear a lot in our culture about reaching our potential. But is that what we are supposed to be doing?

How much are you able to do? Is the fact that you are equipped to do something, or have the potential to do that thing, sufficient reason for you to do it? For example, if you have great skill in surgery, and have the potential to repair or save many people, does that mean you should work all hours and neglect your wife and children?

If you did everything that caught your attention, and that you knew you could achieve, would this lead to a fulfilling life? Would you accomplish the things you should do, or merely the things you could do?

Even corporations realize the importance of focusing on their niche. They identify the things that they do better than anyone else. Call it “their calling”. They feel that a specific product or service is their purpose for existing, and they do it to the exclusion of all other things. Could they do other things? Certainly. Should they do other things? No – because their primary purpose would be left unfulfilled, or at least not done as well as it should have been done.

How does this apply to us? We all have a calling. We may know what it is, or we may not, but it is there. Your calling is what you were uniquely created to do. If you do not do it, you are missing the boat. Could we do other things? Sure – and we usually do! But are we doing the right things?  We have a limited amount of time and resources.  How important is it then that we spend them on right things?

As Mark says in the following clip, “if we don’t do the right things, we are trading busy-ness for fruitfulness.”  Can we do good things that aren’t right things?  Absolutely!

Could Jesus have preached to the entire world? Yes. Did he? No.
Could Jesus have healed all sickness? Yes. Did he? No.
Jesus knew his purpose, and he never got sidetracked from it.  He was called to preach, to serve, and to save.  Even though there were times when he did not want to, when it would have been easier to do something else, and when he asked God for some other way, he stayed true to his call.

We should have the same attitude that he did when he said “I have come not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me”. (Jn 6:38)

Check out this 7-minute clip from a message by Mark Driscoll on the topic.

Are you fulfilling your calling, or merely pursuing your potential?


  • Scott – thank you. Wise distinction. You’ve inspired me to take some time oin the next week or so to really calrify what I am for. I’m wearing so many hats right now, and I do enjoy variety, but variety comes with a cost. While I have a healthy respect for the cliche “Jack of all trades, Master of none…” I think it may be actually possible to achieve “Jack of MANY trades, Good at all of them, Master of a Handful.” That is seductive to my ADD, artistic, process-driven, people loving, task oriented brain. I’m a variety junkie. But I need to know if God is calling me to live with this much variety on my plate. Maybe it’s time to refocus my fog lapm into something that looks more like a laser beam. Hmmm… Thanks for the provocation and the inspiration, brother! God bless.

  • I’m right there with you. Something I’ll be struggling with figuring out for a good long while!

  • My wife & I were encouraged a few years back by a great friend and mentor to stop doing what did not fulfill or align with our purpose. As we began to do so it made some people who relied on us as their work mules not so happy. But it made all the difference, and slowly others stepped up to do what they were supposed to.

    There are still times when I find myself not doing what I am called to, and it comes to not wanting to let down those we are helping. But are we really helping, or hurting by doing what we have potential but not prupose or calling to do?

  • Right on, Dave! It’s a lesson better learned young than at our age, eh? šŸ™‚ But at least we learned! (Or are learning…)

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  • Antwuan

    Its difficult finding the right balance but I think your ideas are spot on. Its difficult for us to find the right balance in life… even when it seems we are doing “good” things.

  • Thanks Antwuan!