Angie Ward on Cultivating Your Calling in Each Stage of Life

Angie Ward, author of the recently published I Am a Leader, has 30 years of leadership experience in diverse roles in ministry. Natalie Lederhouse was excited to talk with Angie about how our calling shifts through the various seasons of life.

How can a woman’s calling change over the course of her life?

Sometimes we think as young women that we have one calling, and that’s it. We just have to find it, and we put so much weight on that one thing. But for most people, it changes how it looks and how it’s lived out based on seasons of life and age. Our calling can also change because we change. Who we are, our gifts, our passions. And that’s okay.

For me, I started out in youth ministry, but then God expanded it. It didn’t shift entirely. It was still vocational/occupational ministry, but it went to more broad ministry—leadership and to leadership development. When I was 22, just out of college, I didn’t have the experience or the wisdom to train other leaders. I was just working with students who were sometimes only four years younger than me. The Holy Spirit moves and flows. Working with kids in children’s ministry at your church may make you aware of the needs of foster kids. It opens a door to a whole new thing.

How can we discover what our calling is today?

Cultivate an ear for the Holy Spirit—a heart and a mind that’s receptive, that knows the Shepherd’s voice, and a heart that’s obedient and responsive to whatever it is during that season. A lot of times we get focused on the wrong question: What is it? We focus on trying to figure out the it. Instead, the real focus should be on cultivating our relationship with Jesus and walking with him. We want steps to cling to. If I do A, B, and C, we’ll get D. But there is a mysterious piece to discovering our calling; it’s not just a rigid set of steps.

What does it look like to fully embrace each season of life?

First, embrace the concept of seasons. We live in an age, in an era, where we’ve lost the agrarian ideas of seasons and rhythms. Any time you hit a wall, right around the time change, we become aware that light and darkness—the seasons of the earth—actually do affect us physically and emotionally. There are times when it’s okay that you lie fallow. This illusion that there has to be constant fruit and constant summer and constant peak production is an erroneous way of thinking.

Second, accept that we have limitations, and that’s by God’s design. That’s not a flaw. I’m a high sleep person. I need eight or nine hours a night. I’ve always been envious of people that can do four or five hours a night, or six. I’m like, “I would do so much more for you God if you would just . . . ” But God’s like, I made you this way. This is by design. Seasons and rhythms and the need for rest and limitations—those are safety valves by God’s design. They’re not flaws.

What’s the relationship between motherhood and calling?

Some people have the belief that a calling to motherhood automatically replaces any other calling. I don’t think that’s automatically true. It is for some people, but it’s not a blanket judgment you can make on everyone.

Before I was married and before I had kids, I felt the calling to vocational ministry, started out in youth ministry and then broader leadership development. I went to seminary, met and married my husband, and I was in ministry in Minnesota. Then I had our boys—and I felt this tension: I knew God had never said my ministry outside the home was done, but my kids were my primary responsibility. I knew I couldn’t do both jobs full-time and do them well.

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Source: Christianity Today