At 7, E was already asking hard questions in Sunday school. One Sunday, after worship, she walked to the pulpit, adjusted the microphone, read a Scripture and – all in play – briefly preached.

The adults nearby smiled, a few applauded. Then someone said, “You know, E, you could do that for real someday.”

Now a teenager, E will have many choices of occupation. My prayer is that what she chooses will also be part of the vocation to which God calls her.

And if that happens to be ordained ministry, it may be due in part to a comment planted in her mind and heart as a 7-year-old that has blossomed into certainty of God’s call.

In this issue’s cover stories, we focus on young clergy – and on lay people who are leaders in the world outside the church. We asked the clergy about their call, but several of the laity also referred to calling. Journalist Lori Sturdevant believes in individual calling, “that I am called to do what I’m doing.” Mark Nerio senses, “I, myself, me personally have been placed in this setting.” Health care executive David Blom says his pastor father’s pulpit was in a church building, but “mine is in the workplace.”

Our featured leaders are called and equipped – the faith community still nurtures their calls. Moreover, as the discerning and nurturing continue, so does openness to the shaping, the molding, the smoothing and the roughening by the Crafter that forms principled Christians into quality leaders who play roles in making disciples and transforming the world to be what God desires.

What is God’s call to you? Has it changed? How does your life illustrate a faithful response?

A challenge to clergy and laity alike: Share the story of your call with at least one person between now and Christmas.

Laity: You each have a vocation (which may or may not be interwoven with your occupation) to which God calls you. Tell your story. It can help move others from a sense of what one should do – or be – to a responding to God’s call.

Clergy: The story of your journey is an integral part of who you are.

Telling it can open young hearts and minds.

Listen. Share. Encourage.