Holistic spirituality distinguishes our primary calling to know and love God from our secondary calling to express this relationship in everything we do and with everyone we encounter. If the secondary is not related to the primary, we slip into the error of dividing the “spiritual” and the “secular” when they should really be integrated. When this happens, our relationship with the Lord is disconnected from the everyday activities of our lives.
The opposite error occurs when secondary calling replaces primary calling. When this occurs, work becomes an end in itself by turning into our principal “vocation” (from the Latin word for “calling”). In this way, the visible and horizontal swallows up the invisible and vertical. Or to use Francis Schaeffer’s expression, “nature eats up grace.” When we keep our primary calling first and seek to express it in and through our secondary calling, we become more holistic in our thinking and practice.
Although you cannot fully know or express the fullness of God’s calling on your life, it is still wise to ask the Lord for a clearer vision of His unique purpose for your earthly existence. Prayerful development of a personal purpose statement can give you focus and passion, particularly when you review and rethink it from time to time.
In the film Chariots of Fire, there is a significant scene when Eric Liddell takes his sister Jennie for a walk in the hills of Scotland to explain his commitment to training for the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. He tells her, “I’ve decided—I’m going back to China. The missionary service accepted me.” Jennie rejoices to hear this, since she fears her brother’s calling to be a missionary is being threatened by his interest in running.
However, Eric goes on to say, “But I’ve got a lot of running to do first. Jennie—Jennie, you’ve got to understand. I believe that God made me for a purpose—for China. But He also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. You were right. It’s not just fun. To win is to honor Him.”
Liddell was a man of focus and passion because he pursued a growing sense of God’s purpose for his life. When I run, I feel His pleasure—what do you do that makes you feel God’s pleasure? Frederick Buechner put it this way in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” As you become a person of calling and purpose, you come to realize that God’s good pleasure is also your good pleasure. Seek satisfaction apart from Him, and you will never find it; seek to please Him first, and you discover that satisfaction is a byproduct of the pursuit of God.
A developing awareness of your divinely-ordained purpose should impact every aspect of your life and spiritualize the whole of your existence. Your calling and purpose are expressed and reinforced in an intentional rule of life. To embrace a rule of living is to seek positive guidelines of behavior that will assist you in fulfilling God’s purposes. This is training, not legalism; it is discipline, not drudgery. A holistic rule of life assists you in integrating the various components of daily experience—from devotions to work—under the lordship of Christ. Rule is never an end in itself, but a means to the end of expressing your primary and secondary callings. Therefore it is prudent to revisit and revise the ways in which you order your time and resources.