It’s easier to serve God without a calling than with one. It’s easier to be unbothered by his requirements and to let common sense be your guide—common sense with a thin veneer of Christian sentiment on top. If you choose to serve God in this way, you’ll be more successful and leisure-hearted. But if you have received the call, the memory of it will never let you be. Once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, it is impossible to continue working for the Lord on the basis of common sense.

What do you truly value? If you haven’t been gripped by Jesus, you value your own acts of service, your own offerings to God, your own life. You take on practical work in his name, not because you’ve been called to it but because you want to be appreciated by the people around you. “Look how useful I am,” you think. “Look how valuable.” Practical work often competes with abandoning yourself to God. Instead of letting Jesus Christ tell you where to go and what to do, you follow your own commonsense judgment about where you’ll be most valued.

The Holy Spirit warned Paul that “prison and hardships” awaited him, should he choose to follow Jesus Christ (Acts 20:23). Acts 20:24 reveals Paul’s almost sublime annoyance at the idea that he would consider himself. His own life, he says, is worth nothing to him. The only thing that matters to him is fulfilling the ministry he’s been given, and he refuses to use his energy for anything else. He is absolutely indifferent to anything except completing the Lord’s task.

Never consider whether you are useful. Ever consider that you belong not to yourself but to him.