“What do you do,” she asked? “I’m a minister,” I replied.
I’ve heard that question often. More than likely, you have as well. It’s a natural inquiry.
When we meet someone we don’t know, a question of a person’s vocation seems normal. Perhaps it allows us a glimpse of their background, skill set, or interests.
However, her follow-up took me by surprise: “Why are you a minister,” she inquired? Her probe wasn’t intrusive, but I sensed there was a more profound, genuine interest behind her question.
To blatantly declare to a total stranger, “God called me to be a minister,” might put me in the schizophrenic category of one who hears voices. And, candidly, I’ve asked myself that question many times: “Why am I a minister?”
Her question caused me to think.
Why do we do what we do? Is every vocation a calling? What happens when we are terminated from our job? Does the decision of corporate management to cut its workforce mean we’ve lost our calling? And, were we to lose our vocation, does it assert we no longer have value or relevance?
Whether a minister, or manufacturer, a plumber or priest:
Our first calling is to be in a relationship with the Triune Godhead: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, our primary calling is about our “being,” not our “doing.”
When we lose sight of our first calling, we shift our focus from “being” to “doing.” However, when we embrace our first calling, then our service (regardless of vocation) is the natural overflow of our devotion to God. Oswald Chambers writes:
“[Service] is the echo of my identification with the nature of God.”
Paul, the apostle, understood that God had set him apart before he was born and called him through his grace (Galatians 1:15). The Psalmist understands the intimate longing of God toward us:
“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” 
My new friend’s inquiry allowed for a beautiful conversation. I learned she had been very successful in her career. Over the last couple of years, the combination of a down economy in her industry, combined with younger employees who are insistent on implementing some radical change, had caused her to question her value.
It was an honor to listen to her. It was a privilege to serve out of my devotion to my first calling. It was a joy to remind her how much God values her, and that her worth is not because of her past or future success; not what she does, but who she is – God’s child, dearly loved and accepted.
This God-ordained conversation was also a timely reminder for me. I can quickly forget my first calling!
Praying for you!
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ps 139:13–14.