“What if I choose the wrong path? What if I go in one direction and find out later I was supposed to go in another?”

As graduation season looms, students of all ages may begin to wonder about their callings—what to do in high school; what major to study in college; what job to pursue.

Once I brought my confirmation class to an animal shelter where they met a volunteer who spends every weekend cleaning cages. He believes deeply in his call to care for God’s creatures, even if it’s a dirty job. On the ride home, I asked my class about their callings. One shared her love of dancing; another said she loved writing and telling stories.

They then asked me about my calling. I replied: “My calling is right here. To be with you. To gather with the community week after week for worship. To love and be loved. To remind you that you are beloved children of God.”

At another point in my ministry, I was invited to my alma mater to share my vocation story with students. As we talked, one asked: “What if I choose the wrong path? What if I go in one direction and find out later I was supposed to go in another?” Students were nodding their heads in agreement, asking the same question: “How do I know what’s my calling?”

In every stage of our lives we’re called to something. Sometimes we’re unsure of what our callings look like. Other times we’re excited and on fire for how we can use our spiritual gifts. Sometimes we need to backtrack. Yet through it all—the learning, questions, wondering and doubts—nothing is ever wasted. We’re becoming more and more the person God calls us to be, missteps and all.

That night on campus, I reminded the students to remember their first calling. That in every joy and challenge, in following and leading, in wondering and worrying, we are first and foremost called as beloved children of God.

For this calling, we say: Thanks be to God!


  • Remind your children that they are beloved children of God. Take time each day as a family to mark the sign of the cross on one another. Splash water on your face to remember your baptism.
  • As a family, sing or read the lyrics of “We Are Called” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 720). Talk about how you can live out the words of the song in your daily life.
  • Talk to a variety of your congregation’s members. Ask them how they live out their vocations.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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