How to Face Obstacles in a Way That Furthers Instead of Impedes Your Calling

What are obstacles you’re facing right now? What might be standing in your way of fulfilling what matters most to you, tempting you with intimidation, striking fear and insecurity in your heart? What is challenging and eroding your sense of identity, impeding your calling, purpose, and mission in your life? Or what challenges are you facing in your pursuit of your Calling that may feel big and difficult?

Let me suggest some ways to reframe these obstacles that will give you direction on how to face them with more courage, wisdom, and effectiveness.

One, Be clear about your Calling, Purpose, Mission.

It is clarity about your vision that drives you forward, that keeps you motivated when the going gets rough. Your Calling empowers you push through all kinds of difficulties because that Calling represents to you what matters most to you in life—what’s so significant to you that not fulfilling it is not an option.

Your immediate response to obstacles actually are signals reminding you how important your Calling is to you. Otherwise you wouldn’t really care.

So the clearer your Calling is to you, the clearer the obstacle’s signals will be to you. For ways to discover and identify your calling and personal purpose, read my last post.

Two, Maintain a clear distinction between Obstacle and Calling.

The obstacle is not your destiny. Your Calling is your destiny. The obstacle is merely a challenge or stepping-stone along the way to fulfilling your Calling. Always keep your endgame in the front of your mind.

In military terms, distinguish between battles and the war. You can lose some battles and still win the war.

The obstacle is a battle. Your Calling is the war.

Battles are tactical. The war is strategic. So obstacles can change. Your Calling remains secure.

If you are unclear about the distinction between calling and roles, read my first post in this series.

Three, Obstacles can be an opportunity to further your Calling.

They actually can have a positive function in your life. So don’t run away or disparage your obstacles too quickly by seeing them simply as impediments to what you want. They could be vehicles.

For example, remember the story of little David and giant Goliath? This story is more than simply about two men fighting each other. David’s battle with Goliath actually is a nation-to-nation champion contest—whichever champion wins, the opposing champion’s nation surrenders. And the winning champion becomes elevated to hero status.

In reality, David’s encounter with Goliath has the potential of being a vehicle to further his ultimate Calling. If he loses, his calling doesn’t necessarily fail. He can still work toward fulfilling his destiny. His reputation is actually enhanced because he’s the only one brave enough to confront the giant.

And if he wins, he’s catapulted into national significance and recognition. His leadership status is radically increased (which his Calling is all about).

What would happen if you reframed your obstacle as being a tool or opportunity for furthering your Calling?

Four, Obstacles can be vehicles for deeper truth to be revealed.

A good coaching friend of mine likes to say,

There are no problems to be solved—just more truth to be revealed. All problems are a gateway into a deeper truth that is longing to emerge.

Rather than dismissing obstacles as simply being problems, this approach asks strategic questions that lead to greater transformation:

  • What can I learn more of about myself, about this situation, about the person or people involved?
  • Why is their behavior or this task pushing my buttons?
  • What is it about my thinking and attitude that causes me such pain?
  • Are there any changes I need to make in how I’m showing up?
  • Do I need to adjust my attitude toward the other?
  • Do I have any responsibility in this situation or outcome? If so, can I acknowledge it and learn from it? If not, can I learn the art of letting things go?
  • Can I step into forgiveness or compassion more honestly while still holding people accountable to their behavior?”

Obstacles can be vehicles of deeper truth, personal growth, and relational connection. So don’t dismiss them too quickly.

Lean into them and listen to what they’re saying to you. Use them as vehicles to go where you really want to go.

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Looking for a Speaker or Coach?

If you or someone you know in your organization is looking for a keynote speaker or workshop teacher for events in your company, congregation, or association gatherings, I would be happy to come speak on this theme or others like it. And interested in coaching for how to be an effective culture architect in your groups? Feel free to email me at greg@gregorypnelson.com or look at the Speaking or Coaching pages of this site.