Making Sense of “Calling” – Dr Irene

Seeking to serve God through professional excellence and explicit gospel witness


From Luke’s Journal Jan 2023  |  Vol.28 No.1  |  Evolving Professionals

Image PCH.vector, Freepik

Many Christians struggle with the tension between work and ministry, and how much energy/time to invest into each.

This table,1 adapted from the work of Ian Prescott on mission, can help us to better understand our own sense of “calling”.

Although the original table was developed with ministries to unreached people groups in mind2, this table can also help us to understand our lives (in particular, our calling) in Australia, as we seek to serve God through both professional excellence and explicit gospel witness.

TypeCallSelf identity Sense of vocationNotes
1MissionMission callingReach a people

No professional skills or no sense of calling to use professional skills, so seek a way to reach without professional skills
Creative access to missionary work challenging
Mission callingReach a people

Use their professional skills to help reach apeople if their professional skills can be used

If not, find another way
The practice of a profession is optional

Ministry frustration in many contexts
2.5Mission/ProfessionMission/professional callingReach a people/serve in a profession

Feel a dual calling

If there is a conflict, not sure which should take pre-eminence
Often feel schizophrenic and pulled in both directions
Professional callingServe in their profession

Use their skills to help reach a people if their skills can be used

If not, find another place
The practice of a profession is essential

Professional frustration in many contexts
4ProfessionProfessional callingServe in their profession

Witness wherever they end up in their profession
5ProfessionProfessional callingServe in their profession

Witness wherever they end up or remain at home (serve locally)
Table adapted from Prescott (2003) and published with the permission of the author, Ian Prescott1

The column, “Type”, refers to a spectrum of perspectives. At one end of the spectrum is “Type 1”, which describes individuals who feel called to full-time ministry, while at the other end of the spectrum is “Type 5”, which represents those who feel called to a particular profession as their fundamental God-given calling. If you feel a “dual calling”, you may lean more towards “Type 2”, where your professional skills are used as a means to open doors for ministry, but discarded if they get in the way.

Or you may resonate more with “Type 3″, that is, the use of your professional skills is so central to your service to God that you would rather change location than vocation in order to minister to others through healthcare.

But what if you’re a “Type 2.5”? In that case, you may often feel “schizophrenic” from the tension, and will likely take a roaming path through medicine – whether that’s pursuing MTS (Ministry Training Strategy) midway through med-school, studying at Bible College during General Practice training, or engaging in part-time clinical work so that you’re more freed up to lead at church (Yes, it’s all been done before!). Alternatively, being “Type 2.5” might be a good prompt for you to consider cross-cultural mission work to the 3.2 billion people who remain unreached by the gospel – many of these people are living in cultures where healthcare and religion are much more readily integrated than in Australia.

Regardless of what our vocation ends up looking like, let us all remember that fundamentally we are “called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6). Let us give thanks for His redeeming work in freeing us from enslavement to sin and Satan, and to be led “as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and [used by God] to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

You may also like to read: Why Did You Choose Medicine/Dentistry? by Dr Eleasa Sieh and Mixed Motives: Unpacking the “Why?” of What We Do by Dr Jeremy Beckett

Dr Irene
Dr Irene is a recent graduate who loves sharing the gospel with unreached international students and integrating faith with medicine – but loves Jesus most of all.


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  1. Prescott, I.C.H. (2003). Creative Access Mission: Key Considerations in Selecting an Entry Platform and Approach.v1.1. p.9.
  2. Prescott, I.C.H. (2019). The Gospel and the Cross-Cultural Gospel Messengers: Issues of Identity and Platform in Bringing the Good News. Mission Round Table 14(3), 26-33.