There's something so appealing about the idea of knowing and pursuing your calling.
Maybe it's just me who feels this way, but I doubt it.
I think we all want to know that we're on the right path. And that's what a "calling" really implies—it's more than a job or task. Whether your primary work is in the professional world, the home, or some combination of both, we all desire the assurance and purposefulness of being able to say, "I was created for this. I'm doing what God wants me to do."
Granted, I'm especially goal-oriented, so the idea of knowing exactly what God wants of me is pretty appealing. If God had sent the 25-year-old me a memo detailing his practical goals and expectations for my life, I might have jumped for joy.
Over time I've learned—mostly the hard way—that that's not really how God works.
"But why not?" we all ask, "It would be so much easier that way. I could just get done what God wants me to do and I wouldn't have to waste time wondering whether it was right or not."
It's not about you
What if I told you that pursing your calling isn't really about what you can do for God?
As special and unique as you are, and as much as God loves you, he doesn't need you to do anything for him. If he did, he could just send you a memo, right? What he wants, more than any accomplishment, is your heart. He wants to bring you into relationship with him.
To hear God's calling, you must learn to recognize his voice, and there's no shortcut for that.
So my first and biggest piece of advice is this: Spend time in God's Word and time in prayer.
I'll be the first to admit that there have been times in my life when I heard advice like that, and I shook it off: Who has the time? I thought, I'm giving everything I've got just trying to get me, my family, and my employees through the day in one piece, and I'm not always managing that well enough. How am I supposed to add something to my to-do list?
I had this idea in my head that "time with God" meant I had to sit quietly somewhere, reading the Bible, meditating and talking to God for hours. It seemed impossible, and so I forged on for too long, snatching bits of Bible study here and there, and praying half-delirious, exhausted prayers in bed at night until I fell asleep.