Pierce Brantley: Are You Doing What God’s Called You to Do? (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John FarrellJanuary 12, 202310 Minutes

John Farrell: What was your inspiration and reason for writing Calling: Awaken to the Purpose of Your Work?

Pierce Brantley: That’s a great question. My story starts in a really interesting place because I grew up way out in East Texas – the boondocks of East Texas – and my family and I grew up in adverse poverty. What I mean by adverse poverty is that I would get $1.50 to go buy clothes at Goodwill for the beginning of each school year.

We grew up actually in a barn and an oil tank. When it rained, rain would come through the roof. Finally, I graduated to an oil tank back behind the barn and went on from there.

I kind of had my own place and time to seek the Lord on things. But I remember a pivotal point when I was a teenager. I was doing my first job, which was mowing lawns, and in mowing my family’s fifteen-acre yard I began to sense God’s presence as I was doing that work. I began to notice that He’d be sharing ideas with me, creative inspiration, how much He loved me, and His plan and desire for my life.

At a young age, I began to recognize that God really wants to be present with us in every moment of the day. For me, He gravitated and showed Himself in my work. That translated really quickly into – once I was able to get out of that situation and that kind of work – working with some really highly dynamic, high-pressure innovative places, a lot of Fortune 500 companies and quick-growth startups and that kind of thing. Through it all, my homegrown principles stayed with me.

I realized I don’t know how to solve a problem like national healthcare, but I know that God does. So, I would bring God into my work and incredible things would happen. I started having these cool Joseph-like stories that would come out of just being present to what God was wanting to do in the moment and realizing that He’s not isolated from our Sunday morning experiences that we oftentimes trade in the pew for pragmatism. But oftentimes He’s there with us in our work.

That’s where the inspiration started from, and then realizing I’d have these conversations with guys. I have always been very passionate and interested in what people do, and I’ll oftentimes talk to people and ask, “What do you do?” You see the look on their face change, and it’s almost like an interrogation. That’s because of the position of their heart.

I think in the U.S. we’ve been so beat down or put into this mode of needing to feel like we need to provide or that there’s a ladder to climb or that you can’t get off the bus. Oftentimes, when you ask that question, I’m super interested in it and I genuinely want to know, and I notice a lot of people begin to feel disconnected from the work.

I think particularly for the Christian, that happens when we get so bogged down by the pressures of the world that we’ve lost track of what it could mean to have an intimacy with God during the working day. And what can ultimately result in a calling, which is something that’s so much more energized than just a daily job.

JF: What is the book’s overall message?

Pierce: I think the overall message is that God has very specific called work for you to do. The great thing about that is oftentimes I think we look for something I call “Moses Moments.” We look for this mountain-top experience where God is going to translate and give us something really important to do.

As Christians, I think what we’ve often lost track of is that we’ve been called from the point that we’ve actually been saved, but we don’t often get told this. We get told our sins are forgiven. We get told we’re new in Christ. The old man is gone. All of that really good foundational stuff, but how does that actually make practical sense?

Just like the old man who is gone and our new life in Christ, it’s the same thing for our work. We actually have new work and new life to do in Christ that goes beyond what we would do within a typical day.

I take as a basic foundational thing when Jesus talks in the temple in Luke 4. He’s talking about what He’s been called to do. He’s been called to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, proclaim recovery excites the blind, liberty to those who are oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Well, that work of Christ has actually been given to us, and it works itself out in incredible ways during the minute-by-minute hours of the day. It can happen on Wednesday at 3:37 p.m. in the middle of an interview. It can happen in a high-pressure deliverable.

God is very present in these details, but we have to do some unwinding, some shifting to bring ourselves into the work that He has for us. I like to say that the scaffolding of kingdom work is all around us. We just have to be present in order to participate in what God is wanting to do during the day.

JF: Why is that message so important in today’s world?

Pierce: I think a lot of us are really bogged down, especially with the pressures of having to provide for our family, with the pressures of wanting to know that we’re doing something important in the world.

Christians are in what I call “survival mode.” We just want to make sure that the lights stay on, the bills get paid, and the kids have everything they need for school. Family and societal pressures create the need to feel like they’re performing at a level that is good.

Our Father loves us very much. He’s told us before, right? If we ask for bread, He’s not going to give us a stone. He provides everything we need. In many ways, He wants to shift our minds from needing to provide to actually participating with what He’s going to do in kingdom work. He’s going to provide for us.

I’ve got mountains and mountains of stories of needing food when I was young or needing bills paid when I was living in poverty. And by bringing those before the Lord, He always provides for His children. It’s like He says, “Listen, I’ve made the means for you to be able to live out what I want you to do in the world. I’m not going to call you and not provide for you.”

If we can shift from that, then we can actually begin to participate in what God wants for us, and there’s a lot of life in it. When Jesus said He came to give life abundantly and that new creation life feeds its way into our work, then work doesn’t have to be a drudgery or something where we’re always looking forward to the weekend. Work actually ends up becoming this entire mission field where we actually get to live out a very specific thing that God has provided for us and preplanned for us to do. It’s a really wonderful thing to get to step into.

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