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March 14, 2013

Are You Wearing the Wrong Clothes?

Knowing what not to wear can help you embrace your calling

I like fashion. When I am away with my family and retreating on vacation from the mundanes of life, I gravitate to the style shows. One of my favorites is the show What Not to Wear. The show begins with a human project, someone whose life is not reaching its full potential because of the inappropriate way she physically presents herself to the world. The human projects are recommended to the show by family members and friends who love these fashion misfits. They know the hearts of the misfits and are concerned, knowing that many people will not take time to look beyond the physical and really get to know their loved ones well. So they arrange a fashion intervention which reinvents the human project’s closet: out with the old wardrobe and in with the new.

The entire experiment begins with two stylists informing the human project of what not to wear and why. After several years of ministry and as I enter my final full year of seminary, I have often thought about the concept of this show. One of the common questions people ask seminary students is “What do you want, or plan, to do after seminary?” For a while, I simply answered with “I don’t know,” but now I’m beginning to ponder more seriously. Questions of vocation and calling should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, in the ministry, I observe too many leaders who walk around like fashion misfits—good-hearted people wearing the wrong “clothes.”

As a young minister, I don’t want to put on the wrong clothes. As a fellow servant in Christ, I encourage Christian leaders to consider which wardrobe or ministry items should be abandoned. The Bible has a term for this principle: pruning. In the gospel of John, Jesus referred to himself as the vine and his father as the gardener. “[God, the Father] cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2, NIV).”

In their various vocations, Christian leaders can bear good fruit. Going from a vocation to a place of true calling, however, requires a divine intervention. Through the “vine and branches teaching,” God essentially says we must be willing to let go of some of those old clothes, shoes, hats, scarves, and accessories that may be outdated or simply don’t fit us anymore, so we can better see our true selves, accurately present ourselves to others, and allow him to offer us free gifts and create new opportunities in our lives. Trusting God in this way is necessary if we are to embrace our true calling.

Trust the Transition

Embracing one’s calling can be risky business, but that’s where trust sets in. After giving the lesson on what not to wear and criteria for appropriate fashion pieces, the two stylists set the misfit loose on a shopping spree with free money. The stylists sit behind the scenes and watch the shopping experience on camera. Before long, the misfit is gravitating to her old shopping habits, grabbing for those inappropriate items—these are the familiar items, the ones that make her feel most comfortable. In a fashion state of emergency, the stylists rush in to save the shopping day. They pick items for the new wardrobe and give the fashion misfit a complete makeover, including hair and makeup, before launching her again into the world of relationships and responsibilities.

Our God is much like those stylists. No, he is not simply concerned with the window dressings of our wardrobes, but he is very much concerned that what he puts in us is reflected properly to the rest of the world so that he is most glorified in our work. Sometimes our vocations are comfortable places to cover up. They give us a false sense of security when God is saying, “Trust me. I have your heart. I have a divine calling in mind for you. Not only that, but I’ll dress you up and prepare you for it.”

Do you trust God well enough to move out of your vocation and into your true calling?

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a full-time student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC campus (Christian Leadership). She also serves as co-director of the women’s mentoring ministry at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a blogger, a writer, and the founder and president of His Glory on Earth Ministries. You can connect with Natasha through her blog, Twitter, or Facebook.

Related Tags: Fashion; Transition; Vocation


You are wise for someone so young. I almost put my very comfortable jeans on a few months ago because I saw a real need in our church. I had done the job for many years in other churches and even trained others how to do it. But for some reason, every time I thought about talking to my pastor about it, I didn't go to him. Then one day he came to me. He asked me to lead a different ministry. One that I was also experienced with. I agreed. I was able to get on board to where God was already going. It has been amazing. It is exhausing and exilerating at the same time. God definitely provides where he leads. P.S. My cousin gave 4 year old hand-me-downs to my older sister and 4 years later (she was 3 years older and much taller), they were given to me. They were never in style and I definitely HATE pea green.

I appreciate the words of the writer. In many churches the length of one's skirt, the face without makeup and the bland look are used to determine one's salvation. While we urge modesty, it's misunderstood. God looks on the heart. I would rather we put more emphasis on prayer, praise, Bible study, training for leadership,etc. When we have a true relationship with God and know His Word, we will know what our priorities are. Our youth don't always have to be given hand-me-downs. We can take them shopping with us, purchase sale items and teach them how to shop so they don't feel like the poor, downhearted pastor's children. They should not have to grow up feeling poor and without.
This may be a mixed message but my intentions are for the good and I hope it is received in the spirit in which it is written. God bless all of you.

I think you missed the point of the article. It's not about fashion or making PKs adjust to their economic reality. The article was about not trying to live someone else's calling or role in ministry. As an administrative pastor and single woman in ministry, very well-meaning people have tried to tell me how to be, act, etc. It didn't fit, and many times left me feeling worse than before. When I spent time really seeking who God has created me to be and do, I find that while I don't fit a particular role that already exists, I shine brightly for him by just being me . . . Thank you, Natasha, for your timely word!

PS - Ora, I know your intentions are good, but as a former PK, people doing what you are suggesting was far more hurtful. I only felt poor and without when people pointed out to me what I didn't have and that the reason was my dad was a pastor. :-)

@Sue, thank you for your kind words. Discernment is so critically important in ministry and life. Then of course, we need courage to act on what God wants us to do.

@Carrie. "I shine brightly for him by just being me . . ." I love this!

Blessings, Natasha

I also find that some leaders try to wear all the clothes...or too many hats. Spiritual hoarders, fearful of other leaders stealing their "job", they hold tightly to many tasks.

This is a wonderful and practical illustration on our gifts and callings. Listen to the Lord and be yourself. We can always learn a lot from happenings around us when open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Thanks Natasha for sharing this insight.

Since English is not my main language I had to read the article twice to make sure that I understood its message. I dont think the autor is talking about fashion. She is talking about your calling and how you have to make sure that what your doing is not only your vocation, what you like, but what God really wants you to do.

I am a pastor´s wife and at church, I try to be in the shadows. However I like to serve, to help people in need. It may look as if I dont do too much at the church but in my line of work, God has allowed me to help people I dont even know.

For many years I tried to quit my job or even get a transfer but I finally understood that I am here because it is His will. I can help more people where I am than if I were full time at the church. Even people who before had said I had to resign and work alongside with my husband, which I anyway do, have understood the blessing that my job is for many, including them.

So I know Iam wearing the right clothes.

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