At the start of this year, we wrote a post about how the R.O.O.T.E.D. Goal Setting System can be a game-changer for how you set goals this year. Over the next couple weeks, we are going to dive into each aspect of this goal setting system. If you missed that first post, take a minute to go read it now!
The R.O.O.T.E.D. system helps you to identify and reverse-engineer relevant, strong, essentialist goals that will help you bridge the gap between those big and important things that you know matter most and the life you’re living right now.
Sustainable, Life-Giving Goals Are:
- Rooted in your core calling
- Organically growing out of your context
- Outlined for clarity
- Tailored to your lifestyle
- Etched into your memory
- Developed by Providence
I have to admit—as thrilling as the first phrase in the acronym may be (‘Rooted in your core calling’), it’s also pretty intimidating.
But tapping into your core calling is an essential part of creating goals that fully resonate, that compel you to follow-through in the execution of them, and that produce a lot of satisfying fruit along the way.
So let’s begin uncovering essential soil for every sustainable and healthy goal you’ll ever set.
The Core Calling of all Humans
Your “core calling” is a multi-layered concept. Let’s start with the most foundational layer—the layer of “calling” that is common to each of us.
In the first chapters of Genesis, we learn something very important about God’s heart for humanity. God created us as individuals made in His own image, and placed in the covenantal context of communion with Him, each other, and the world. From the dignity of being Imago Dei flows our purpose to steward this world God created by cultivating abundance and communion in every area of our influence.
Our generous God made so much space for us to walk with Him in love, to imagine, to engineer, to grow ourselves and our families and our projects. He equipped us with strong minds, strong bodies, strong capacities for relationships and nuance and wisdom.
But then something terrible happened. The Enemy of communion and goodness and light and Love came in and planted seeds of doubt. He peddled the concepts of scarcity and conflict of interest to a world that was burgeoning with abundance and founded on a perfect harmony of interest. The real world had no space for his lies. But instead of pointing to reality and defending the world from the Liar, our first parents started to listen to him. They repeated his words in their minds until they sounded plausible. And then they decided to test the theory. They made a grab for exclusive control of resources—and in doing so they sacrificed their mutually-trusting relationship with God (and each other) for the opportunity to dominate without reference to God’s code of ethics.
Humanity revolted against its core calling. Fallen human beings began to greedily contend with others for resources and eventually created entire systems of domination. The result has been a world fraught with scarcity, distrust, pain, and conflict ever since. But something else happened six thousand years after that fateful moment that barred humanity from Paradise. The Son of Man (the incarnation of God Himself) made our fallen world His home and started His renovations.
“That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: "Be reconciled to God." He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:19-21
He started by reconciling people—individuals made in the Image of God—to Himself. In Christ, our hearts are changed from deserts of scarcity and conflict into small (but powerful) oases of hope and healing.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
We are made into temples where heaven meets earth. Our lives become the context where God chooses to interface with the world around us.
In Christ, we are restored to our original Imago Dei calling to cultivate abundance and communion in every area of our influence. Christ takes the lead in our hearts by demonstrating that the redemption of the world can only follow spiritual transformation. But lest we think this means that we live our lives in some kind of floaty disassociation from real world problems, let’s consider the clear instructions of Paul to the Thessalonians (which is, of course, applicable to us all).
We are called to:
(Taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
- love one another as we are taught by God
- intentionally abound in that love
- live peacefully
- tend to our direct responsibilities
- build wealth through enterprise and skillful industry (this is the literal meaning of the Greek word “ergazomai” in 1 Thess. 4:11; Gal. 6:10 makes it clear that we should take every opportunity to “ergazomai” for the good of all, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ)
- behave decently, respectfully, and ethically even toward strangers
- abound so well in our own enterprises that we are not permanently dependent on the industry of others
In summary, sister, you and I (and every Christian woman reading this) will find that we have in common the renewed calling and impulse to cultivate abundance and communion in every area of our lives. Our efforts will be continually brought into alignment with the loving, peaceful, and respectful code of ethics that the Lord has restored to our hearts. And we will all be seeking ways to build wealth and independence by leveraging the unique resources and opportunities the Lord has given to each of us.
Your Core Calling as a Unique Individual
So how do you recognize and leverage the unique resources and opportunities that the Lord has given to you?
I’ve learned both from personal experience and from my coaching work with others that grasping the unique calling of God for our individual lives is a process.
Digging down into our general calling to live out the dignity of being image-bearers who have been redeemed from our errors, adopted into the household of God, and given our heaven-meets-earth roles as truth-advancing royal priestesses (1 Peter 2:9) obviously provides an amazing amount of direction for our energies.
But 1 Peter 4:10 makes it clear that we are not lumped amorphously into the Body of Christ without any specific missions of our own. We are individual stewards of the “varied grace” of God. This means God has given us each special and unique graces in the form of our unique giftings, impulses, challenges, insights, resources, ideas, concerns, and desires.
This is because our One-and-Many God celebrates both the Unity of the One, and the Diversity of the Many. He doesn’t tend to the extremes of either uniformity or discord. His heart is for a world of peaceful unity that is also popping with invigorating diversity.
So when I point out that there are reasons that you as an individual think about and pursue the things you do, that you have the desire to solve the problems that you notice, that you have important gaps that you were uniquely created to fill in the world—I’m not just the trumpeting modern “follow your dreams” marketing jingle. I’m pointing out a solid truth.
The Process of Getting Clarity on Your Unique Calling
Based on my personal and coaching experience, my study of the Scriptures, and the reading I’ve done on the concepts of calling, vocation, and purpose (from both Christian and other perspectives) I’ve developed a three-phase process to help you explore and uncover insights about the unique calling God has placed on your life.
- Explore your unique intrinsic motivations. Use the Venn Diagram worksheet to find the overlap between the things that give you life, the ways you are moved to serve people, the ways you build wealth, and the skills in which you excel. You will begin to see core themes that overlap in tightening circles—themes that serve as major hints into your core calling. Pray for the Lord to place the desires He wants for you to have in your heart—and know that if you’re in Christ, He’s already been doing that!
- Explore your unique extrinsic motivations. Explore the long-term things that motivate you that are outside of yourself, and which are present now. For many people, an easy answer to this is their spouse and/or children, their desire to have a family), and/or others who are under their care. In addition, what are the things that your mentors or friends most commonly ask you to do? What are the top skills for which people have paid you, or have offered to pay you? If you struggle to see what others value in you, ask a trusted friend to help you create a short list. What are the common injustices and/or serious needs that you always seem to notice? What types of invitations from others get you really excited? Ask the Lord to help you see which of these external motivations are part of His Providential direction.
- Plant a few seeds and leverage every opportunity to grow in skill, focus, and love. Did I mention that getting clarity on your core calling is a process? It can’t all be done while cozied up with a notebook and coffee. You have to engage real challenges and solve real problems in the life you’re living now. You might be getting a good feel for the soil of your core calling, but you won’t really know what’ll grow until you start planting some seeds. Notice which challenges you’re drawn to tackle and which problems you excel at solving. Plant a few seeds in a few different directions by experimenting with new things that give you life, that serve others in a way they need now, that add so much value that someone is willing to pay for it, and that you’re really good at. While you may not find that perfect combination right away, when an experiment seems to be remarkably successful, follow that avenue and see what else you can pursue there. Don’t overcommit yourself, though! Keep ample space in your life for daily responsibilities, rest, reflection, and play. Without breaking important commitments, give yourself the liberty to declutter your expectations often. Just because you try something doesn’t mean you have to permanently keep doing it. If something is draining you, try going at it from a different angle that aligns better with your unique giftings, get counsel about it, and/or let it go altogether. Never forget the people on the other end of your decisions, and keep your priorities straight (the most vulnerable people in your care come first, even if they’re not demanding the loudest). And no matter what, leverage every commitment you make or responsibility you fulfill as an opportunity to build strong skills, hone your focus on what matters most, and serve with authentic love. These three elements (skill, focus, and authentic love) act as the vitalizing fertilizer that fortifies and directs the good things that will start to grow out of the soil of your core calling.
From what I’ve read, very few people actually know from a young age exactly what they’re uniquely called to do. And even fewer have a really fleshed-out understanding of what their calling entails. If you’re overwhelmed by this stage—don’t be. You don’t have to get it all right immediately. As you begin to nurture the soil of your core calling (even if you don’t really know what it is) by doing these exercises and by building skills, honing your focus, and growing in love, you’ll begin uncovering more and more direction as you go.
Where Do You Go From Here?
The next step is to get extremely practical. We’ll be looking at your daily lived context, your current responsibilities, and the order of priorities. By overlapping where you are right now with the unique giftings God has given you (which forms the soil of your core calling), we will be able to begin identifying the most immediate goals you can set that will help you really move the needle forward in the essential areas of your life.
- Print out the Core Calling Worksheet and fill it out.
- Use the flex space of your planner to work through the rest of the journaling questions I asked you in Phase 2.
- Schedule in a few events, meetings, projects, or other forms of experimentation with the new ideas that are coming from your examination of the soil of your core calling.
By doing all of this, you’ll be cultivating a rich plot for setting goals that are truly rooted in your core calling.