The Big Picture
Our unique design or identity (our BE) informs our mission (our DO) which in turn informs our mission field (our GO). Our design or identity is a question of “who.” Our mission or purpose is a question of “what.” And our mission field or position is a question of “where.” The BE-DO-GO model looks like this:
A good model deconstructs the Be-Do-Go sweet spot into simple parts, allowing us to isolate and study the characteristics of each part. The parts include our identity (BE), our mission (DO), and our position (GO).
Instead of trying to figure out the entire picture at once, we can focus on the individual parts and then integrate our learning into a more comprehensive understanding of our calling. You might say that we can put each element under a microscope for study. BE-DO-GO gives us a simple framework for doing this. As we gain increasing clarity on the parts, we then seek to integrate them into a better understanding of how the parts work together.
Primary and Secondary Calling
Calling is God’s sacred whisper that draws us into his mission on earth and plans for eternity. This whisper draws us to have the fullness of Jesus in us, and to channel it through us to others. You might say there are two parts: a general calling and a unique calling, or what some theologians have called a primary calling and a secondary calling.
Cotton Mather, the American colonial historian, theologian, and author who co-founded Yale University described two parts of calling. He referred to the first as a general calling to be a witness to the truth of Jesus in our lives. This general or common calling applies to all Christians, everywhere, all the time. This general calling unites the Body of Christ in a shared response to God’s plans. Other theologians have referred to this general calling as our “primary calling.”
Our general or primary calling is to be disciples who make disciples where we are! This element of calling is the fullness of Jesus in us and through us to others. When the Bible refers to “calling” it is most often this primary or general calling.
However, Mather also identified a second element he referred to as personal or unique calling. Personal calling is unique and distinctive from others and represents the unique, divine equipping God gives each Believer to help carry the fullness of Jesus to the world. In Mather’s words, this personal calling finds its context in a “certain particular employment, by which [a person’s] usefulness in his neighborhood is distinguished.” Other theologians have referred to this personal or unique calling as our “secondary calling.”
Picture yourself in a rowboat. You have two paddles and are headed to a distant shore. Success is carrying the fullness of Jesus that is in you to that shore to share with others. Cotton Mather gives us a picture (“model”) for how the two elements of calling should integrate. He says:
“A Christian at his two callings is a man in a boat rowing. If he mind but one of his callings, be it which it will, he pulls the oar, but on one side of the boat, and will make but a poor dispatch to the shore of eternal blessedness. It is not only necessary that a Christian should follow his general calling, it is of necessity that he follow his personal calling, too.”
Mather highlights the consequence of only putting one oar in the water (or engaging one of the two dimensions of calling). We will move in circles, never accomplishing the mission we were made for.
Bob Buford highlights this with two questions he says we will all face someday before Jesus.
- First, how did you respond to who Jesus said He was? Did you respond and surrender to His Lordship, living your life in submission to Him? This is our primary or general calling at its heart.
- Second, what did you do with what He uniquely gave you to work with? How did you respond to the unique abilities and design He gave you and the good works He called you to? This is our secondary or unique personal calling.
Notice how the answer to the second question only finds true meaning and significance when it grows out of our answer to the first question. Primary and Secondary calling must function in tandem. BE-DO-GO helps us look at the elements of both primary and secondary calling.
In applying our BE-DO-GO framework to both primary and secondary calling, as discussed above, we end up with six core elements in our model (3 for primary calling and 3 for secondary).
Applying BE-DO-GO: 6 Unique Elements
Let’s take a deeper look at these six elements, looking at the integration of both primary and secondary calling.
Element 1 – My Core Identity: Who am I created to BE?
All Christians are called to be children of God and to be disciples of Jesus. Unlike other titles and roles such as husband, wife, boss, engineer, and coach that are temporary, the role of child of God is permanent and transcends this life into eternity. We are called to be healthy, functioning children in God’s family. The BE element of primary or general calling shared by all Christians is to BE DISCIPLES. In being disciples of Jesus, we seek first to have his fullness in us and to become more like him.
Our core identity (cI) is to be a child of God and a disciple of Jesus.
Element 2 – My Core Mission: What am I created to DO?
At its heart, this is a question of mission or purpose. In universal terms, our answer is clear.
All Christians are called to make disciples. We are to be witnesses of his love that others may be drawn to him and become disciples. In our primary or general calling, we are to MAKE DISICPLES.
Our core mission (cM) is to make disciples.
Element 3 – My Core Position: Where am I created to GO?
Where am I created to go? It’s a question about positioning.
We are to be disciples and make disciples wherever we are and in whatever we are doing. We are to be the love of Jesus everywhere we go with intentionality and urgency. Our general or primary calling shared with all Christians, everywhere, at all times is to be disciples who make disciples WHEREVER WE ARE.
Our core position (cP) is the opportunities right where we are.
In our restlessness to “go” we must first look at our stewardship of what’s been given to us where we are. We need to be a disciple who makes disciples here and now. There is no elusive tomorrow in some yet to be determined foreign land. Faithfulness to our calling begins with being a good steward of the opportunities every day where we are.
He might call you to radically change your lifestyle or your expected level of comfort for the sake of where He is leading you. And the destination may be right where you are or it might not be completely clear yet. The amazing thing is that not only is He preparing you internally to fit His plan, He is also working out the external place you will serve as well.
Element 4 – My Unique Identity: Who am I uniquely created to BE?
As we move toward our secondary or unique personal calling, this is also a question of identity. At my core and in my deepest, truest self, who am I? Who has God fashioned me to be uniquely? How does the essence of who I am inform the nature of calling? I am UNIQUELY MADE.
Our unique identity (uI) is our unique design that distinguishes us from God’s other children.
Element 5 – My Unique Mission: What am I uniquely created to DO?
We are to be fully surrendered to Jesus and his commands, and to be love in action. The overflow of Jesus’ love for us prompts us to love other people through our good works and deeds. But what specific good works should I focus on? That’s the right question. Answering it individually will be part of the journey, which will continue far beyond the reading of this book. In our secondary or unique personal calling we are to do unique GOOD WORKS AND DEEDS.
Our unique mission (uM) is the unique purpose assigned to us by God that produces unique good works and deeds in our lives.
Element 6 – My Unique Position: Where am I uniquely created to GO?
Our secondary or unique personal calling prompts us not just to serve where we are, but to be willing to reposition ourselves to go WHERE WE CAN BE MOST EFFECTIVE.
Our unique position (uP) is the context where we can be most effective.
More provides a road map for helping people work through discovering how these 6 elements of BE-DO-GO uniquely apply in their lives!