Had Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem earlier, at the time of Cyrus’s edict, he clearly would not have been in Persia to serve as cupbearer to the king. His geographical location thus made his vocation a possibility. There are circumstantial limitations on what vocations are available to us.

Where possible, one way to change the available options is to change your circumstances. Don’t like the majors offered at your local university? Apply to a different school. You may have to wait a little longer before enrolling, but it may be worth it. Feel restricted in your professional growth? Find a job with a different organization or advance your training to open new possibilities.


You may find, however, that the doors and windows to your situation are all closed. God, in His providence, may be leading you in a different direction than you had envisioned. In fact, you may even find that your burden in ministry and your calling are not the same. Paul had a burden to preach in Rome, but God called him to preach everywhere except Rome until the end of his life (see Rom. 1:10–13). Yet, while he could not work in the city he had a burden to reach, God used his ministry elsewhere to prepare the way for him to share in Rome later.


Although we have already stated that your burden and calling may not always be identical, it is still beneficial to examine your heart for where the Lord has placed a burden for ministry. For instance, as a young mother, you may have a burden to teach children about Jesus; as a black male, you may have a burden to mentor young black men who do not have role models; as an intellectual, you may have a burden to bring the gospel to the academic elite.

Your burden may lead you into a particular line of work. A burden for early childhood development may lead you to pursue a degree in education or child psychology, for example. The deciding factor may be where your talents lie.


Just as a burden for some line of work may lead you to seek the skills to minister to that need, your innate talents may lend you opportunities where your skills are needed. The key is to volunteer your talents so that they may be recognized by those in a position to give you further opportunities. In short, take initiative.