What Does Being Called By God Mean?

Donald Miller

When I was younger, I just knew God wanted to do something special with my life. What that was wouldn’t become clear for a long time, but all the while I knew my life could, and likely would, have an impact.

That said, I had no idea what to do.

Over time, I realized what Joseph in the Bible realized – that being called by God to do something special doesn’t make you, well, special. In fact, most of the people who are called by God to do something special have difficult lives. In Scripture, many of them are even killed.

Have you ever read the story of Joseph paying attention to the character arc? A character arc is a term describing how a character changes as they journey through the story.

Joseph starts as an arrogant kid, knowing God was going to make him powerful. But after more than twenty years of extreme conflict, he’s humbled and all he wants to do is serve God by “saving many lives.”

*Photo by Padraic Woods, Creative Commons

Does that describe you? If not, I think you might still be in the middle of your journey. That’s a great place to be, but keep moving. It really is possible for each of us to wake up in the morning and love other people even more than we love glory or attention.

I learned from Joseph that being called by God, it seems, is about serving God, not getting famous or receiving glory or being rich.

Being called by God is about laying down your life; doing small, secret things.

When we follow God, we enter into a reverse economy of sorts. Things that bring us the praise of men will not bring us God’s favor. He doesn’t care how much money we have, how witty we are or how much praise people are willing to give us.

I wish I’d have known that when I was younger. I interpreted God’s calling on my life to mean I was better than other people. I can see that clearly now. But this was a radical misunderstanding of how God works.

To feel called by God is to serve God by loving people.

All the special characters in scripture are doing exactly this.


This weekend, hundreds of us will be coming together for The Storyline Conference in San Diego. If you’ve been wrestling with a sense of calling but you aren’t sure what to do, we are hoping you’ll be encouraged and inspired. As a next step, pray about joining us at Storyline. Our desire is to help good people live great stories. You can register here.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and grow their business at storybrand.com. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.