How to Discern Your Calling

It’s one of those times again, when I’ve read something in passing, forget about it, and yet it lingers in my mind, coloring everything I do and think. This time it came from something I read on Pete Scazzero’s blog, which I so often find rich and enlightening:


The following story comes from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he advises a young man wondering if he should be a poet. The counsel applies to each of us as we sort out God’s priorities:

“You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now…I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward and that above all should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reasons that bid you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity…”


A year into my first full-time salaried call as a pastor (previously I was no less full-time, maybe less salaried, but the point is I was not fully yet employed in the ministerial call) and I’ve had moments here and there to pause and reflect in the midst of what has been a year of tremendous organizational growth. Simply astounding, but truthfully leaving me a bit plastered. Yet I’m still finding time here and there to shut up and think and reflect – and that’s why this quote resonates so deeply with me, like a computer process running stealthily in the background. You see, I’m beginning to attend all these pastoral conferences (will be at Catalyst Houston tomorrow) and learning from all these rock stars but here’s the thing – their path is not mine to follow. My path is something deep; tattooed both into my soul and onto my body; it’s something no one ever thought of, yet it was birthed in the plan of God. I can’t, in this sense, watch what God is doing in other (mega)churches and covet; I have to go deeper into myself, my religion, my heritage, my bloodline, my 12-year epic journey away from my hometown of Queens, NY… I have to go deeper into the correlation between my story and those of the Old Testament fathers as sojourners in a strange land… into this idea of “withdrawal and return” theology (historian Arnold Toynbee)… only then can I discern my call, and be at peace in my own skin.

So for those of you discerning (or struggling to discern) your call, who might’ve stumbled on to this post via googling “How to Discern your Call”… sorry to disappoint you – you’ve found no luck here.

But go with the encouraging words that you have all the resource right there on your end of the computer. In the words of pastor Pete: “Go Deep into Yourself to Know God.” Peace.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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