FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Calling, Vocation, and Your Powerful Gifts: Don Everts

with Don Everts | July 12, 2023
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Calling: Is it just about a vocation? Author Don Everts about discovering your gifts—and the purposes blooming from knowing how you're made—including everyday assignments in fulfilling God's purposes. Don shares insights from his research, including gender differences in self-perception of giftedness. Tap into the adventure of living out your God-given roles and responsibilities.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Calling: Is it just about a vocation? Author Don Everts about discovering your gifts—and the everyday purposes blooming from knowing how you’re made.

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Calling, Vocation, and Your Powerful Gifts: Don Everts

With Don Everts
July 12, 2023
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Don: The temptation can be drinking the coffee because I want to be amped up. I go to work, I give it my best, and then I come home and collapse. I’m in that collapsed mode while being a spouse and a parent. “Am I giving it my best? Am I using my gifts in that place?”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the FamilyLife® app.

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Oneof my favorite single verses in the Bible, New Testament—what do you think it is?

Ann: Oh, I don’t know.

Dave: Man, my wife doesn’t know me?

Ann: Do you know what I would say?

Dave: For yours?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: I think you’d say Psalm 139: “…fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Ann: I like that one.

Dave: What would it be?

Ann: Romans 12:1.

Dave: Of course, yes.

Ann: What’s yours?

Dave: I love this because it’s such a new, fresh, beautiful way to view people: Ephesians 2:10. Just listen to these words: “For we are his workmanship….”—the actual Greek word there is poema—He wrote us as a poem—“We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

It's not only identity, but it’s calling, and it’s gifting, and it’s what God wants us to do. It’s such a beautiful view of who we are and everyone around us is.

Ann: That’s my favorite now, too. [Laughter]

Dave: It is; it’s got to be. We’ve got Don Everts back in the studio to talk about the giftings of people in life. When I think of you, Don, and your book [and how] everyone has a gift, I think this verse has got to be central to your core theology.

Don: It is. What it says is these good works that He’s prepared for us. So there’s some forethought on God’s part; like, “When I was creating you, Dave, I didn’t just create you because I wanted to just look at you. I created you and shaped you because I want you to do damage in a certain way. I want you to be a blessing in a certain way,” right?

Ann: Right.

Don: He’s created works for us to do. I love, too, that it is plural; that there’s multiple works to do.

Ann: There’s more than one thing.

Don: There’s more than one. I have to admit this is one of the things that has really pushed me in this research project in diving into what the Bible has to say about the works that He’s created for us. I had this perception: “You have a vocation. You have a calling. You have a job. Then, when you’re not doing that, you’re off. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes, most of us think that way.

Don: Yes, we do, and especially us introverts. It’s like, “Yes, I’m not in the church right now, so I don’t have to talk to you.” But actually, and Luther helps us see this, vocation, the works that God has for us, are all the rolls and responsibilities that God has placed you in.

What that means is I have a vocation as a father. That’s one of my vocations in life. That’s one of the works that God has prepared for me ahead of time to do. It’s not just that “I’m incidentally a father because I had kids,” or it’s not just “I have to parent because these kids live in my house.” Ahead of time, God prepared this vocation for me.

Ann: He’s not saying, “Oh, no. Don’s a father!”


Don: No, and “What do I do now?” Ahead of time, [God speaking] “I want you to be a father.”

I also have a vocation as a son; I have living parents. What’s that work that God has for me? I have neighbors so I have a vocation as a neighbor. I have a vocation as a spouse as a husband. And I’m a pastor; that’s on the list. Does that make sense? And writer.

But what I love about that is it blows up—when you read Ephesians, one thing Paul isn’t meaning is “You’ve got to have a job.” [Laughter]

Ann: “You’ve got to make a living.”

Don: He does write in Ephesians, “In everything you work at, work at it as if working for the Lord,” [Ephesians 6:7, Paraphrased] so he does talk about labor and our posture in our labor. But what he’s talking about there is so heady [that] it should stop us in our tracks.

You guys, now you’re grandparents, so you have a vocation as grandparents. One of the works God has prepared for you ahead of time is as grandparents.

What I’ve found, as people dive into this material, boy, it makes them think. They sit there going, “Well, what am I supposed to be doing as a grandparent? Am I taking that seriously; am I thinking about that?”

Dave: Yes, when I hear you saying that, that is life-changing, the mindset, because I think it’s easy—I don’t know if women do the same thing—but as a guy, I bring energy to my vocation.

Don: Yes.

Dave: Like it’s important and­ I prepare.

Don: You give it your best.

Dave: And I feel like I’m supposed to do it. I don’t often think the same way about being a husband or dad until you just used that phrase “It’s your vocation.” I’m [thinking], “Wait, wait, wait.” I think some of it’s mindset. We don’t think, “This is as important as what I do to make money to provide for our family.” It’s actually more important.

Don: That’s right. The temptation can be drinking the coffee because I want to be amped up, I go into work, I give it my best, and then I come home and collapse.

Ann: —and rest.

Don: —and rest. I’m in that collapsed mode while being a spouse and a parent. “Am I giving it my best? Am I using my gifts in that place?”

There’s something about thinking about calling and vocations. There’s another place where Paul wrote in Corinthians where he said, “This is to be my rule in all the churches: Live the life that God has assigned to you and to which He has called you.” [1 Corinthians 7:17, Paraphrased]

Those two verbs, to get nerdy about it, “assigned” and “called,” he actually uses in other places in a redemptive way; that God actually assigns people for salvation and calls people to come to faith.

What Paul was doing there is lifting up as beautiful and dignified and spiritually significant our every day lives. God has assigned us and called us to live a certain life and live in a certain way, and that is part of faithfulness.

Ann: Don, you’re saying we each have an assignment. Maybe, as we talked about at the beginning, several assignments.

Don: Several assignments; that’s right.

Dave: That God has prepared beforehand.

Don: Then rather than—because sometimes we think about priorities: “We’ve got to set our priorities.” That’s a really good conversation to have, right? But we tend to come to that with a zero sum: “Some things are going to get this some things are going to get that.”

But when you think about “I have vocations that I’m called to and that God has prepared me to,” and it’s not so that we’re overwhelmed, and it’s “I can never rest.” Yes, we’re supposed to Sabbath yes, we should be off sometimes, but that there’s a richness in recognizing these assignments that God has given us.

Ann: As I’m thinking about you as a listener to take a second and let that sink [in]. What is your assignment? Some of it will be obvious; like if you’re a mom if you’re a son and if you’re a daughter a dad. But what else?

I love that we’re talking about your book, Discover Your Gifts: Celebrating How God Made You and Everyone You Know, because it’s taking an inward look and thinking, “God, what did you put in me,” as we talked about Psalm 139.

You talked about earlier in earlier episode some gender differences and even some of the data you have found.

Don: There were some interesting gender differences in the research. The research doesn’t tell us why the differences are there, so it’s limited. But here’s some of the differences that we noticed.

There was this baseline question of “How gifted would you say that you are on a scale of zero to ten? How gifted would you say you are?”

The national average, if I have this right, was about 6.5 and about 6.7. The average for women was lower than the average for men.

Ann: Interesting.

Don: That’s an interesting data point. Women on the average—and it wasn’t by a lot, but it was about a point, and it was consistent. That’s what the research nerds call statistically significant that’s meaningful.

Why is that that women’s self-perception is that they’re less gifted? Some of the possibilities. One of those is on average men spend more time in the workplace. Here’s an interesting thing about the workplace: When we ask people other questions about “Where are your gifts noticed?” the workplace is high up there; like a boss.

Ann: Yes.

Don: When we ask the question: “Where have your gifts been developed and invested in to help you grow in them,” the workplace is high up on the list. Is that possibly one of the differences between the genders? That’s something to think about. We don’t know exactly why it is, but I think it is important that we recognize that.

To get back to what we were talking about earlier in terms of vocations and all the things that we do, I remember when my wife—she was a campus minister, and then we had our first baby. She was more the primary care giver. We shared it but she was more the primary one. She really wrestled with “I’m watching this baby, and I’m changing diapers.”

Ann: Yes, my words to Dave were “I have no life.”

Don: “I have no life.” I think a slice of that—there’s a couple of slices— “What does spirituality look like then, because I can’t take a day of Sabbath. I have to feed them every three hours. How do I get a day of Sabbath?” 

Then I think part of it is “I’m not doing ministry like I used to. I’m—” quote unquote “—just taking care of this baby.”

Ann: “I’m just a mom.”

Don: “I’m just a mom.” That’s what I love about the doctrine of vocation. The biblical doctrine of vocation says “There’s a vocation of being a mother, which means that that is a work that God has prepared for you; that it is beautiful, it is dignified, it is important, God notices it.

Ann: Preach!

Don: You can grow in it, you can be mentored in it, etcetera, etcetera.

Ann: It’s so interesting.

Don: That is one of the differences that comes out in terms of gender.

“Where are people mentored?” More African Americans say they found mentoring in their gifts in the church context. Among whites that’s lower and it’s more found in school and at jobs in an occupation. It’s just something to think about as we’re thinking about “How do we celebrate people’s gifts? How do we notice those gifts? How do we help mentor people in their gifts? Which is—

Dave: That’s where I want to go. Let’s talk about mentoring, because you talk about it in your book. You did some research on that.

Ann: And your workbook.

Don: Yes.

Dave: As parents, we’re called to mentor our kids. As a follower of Christ, I’m called to make disciples; that’s mentoring.

Don: Yes.

Dave: What can we learn? How do you draw out gifts in the people that you are mentoring?

Ann: How have you done it? Because you’re a researcher; you’re a pastor; you’re living this with your three kids. How have you applied that over the years with your kids?

Don: That’s a great question. It’s powerful to notice in the Scripture that “As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” [Proverbs 27:17] We have that in the Proverbs. We tend to think about the spiritual discipling in terms of raising people in the faith and helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus, but one of the things we see in the Scriptures [is] that there are a lot of mentoring relationships.

One of the scholars that I was reading said, “It’s always part spiritual and then part technical.” You see leaders influencing other leaders. There’s also biblical precedent for helping people grow, not just as disciples of Jesus, but to help people grow as parents, or grow as businesspeople, or grow in their vocations.

One of the things with my kids—I stole this from someone else—someone told me how their parents wanted to encourage them to try things and to grow in things, so whenever they tried something and failed their parents would bake them a cake.

Dave: Really?

Don: And they would throw them a party. [Laughter] Yes. This was a guy I was interviewing writing a biography. I remember him saying to me: “Don, think of the confidence that gave me that every time I tried something new and took a risk, even if I failed, my parents celebrated it, and I got a cake.”

So, with my kids trying to encourage, not just read your Bible and be this certain way, during the lock down the initial lockdown in the COVID days, my two older kids, who a lot of their life had been at each other’s throats—they were close in age, so it was natural—I celebrated and helped feel they were thinking about.

My son liked doing a lot of TikTok. My daughter’s this artist and everything. They wound up starting a company with each other during the COVID lockdown. They called it Adriel Collective. My son was the entrepreneur, and he did all the back the kind of e-commerce stuff. My daughter was creating the artwork, and they were putting them on T-shirts and sweatshirts and all that sort of thing.

It was one of those things my wife and I had this talk where they [said], “We want to do this, Dad. We want to use—” We had helped them have this discipline of saving money. They were both about to finish high school. We were [saying], “Do we let them spend their money on this?”

I told my wife I said, “Here’s the thing: I want them to do it. I’m not going to tell them this, but I’m going to back them. If they lose all of it, I’m going to pay them back. But I’m not going to tell them I’m going to do that.”

The reason I was doing that was I want them to develop. I think my son has entrepreneurial gifts. How do you develop entrepreneurial gifts? You start things. [Laughter] It’s risky to start things.

Dave: Take risks.

Don: You take risks. Literally investing in him noticing that gift, and I don’t have it I don’t have that gift. But he has these different gifts, so celebrating; like, “Try it; try it!”

I think that’s one way. There have been plenty of ways that I feel like I haven’t done great as a parent in doing that, but that’s one of them is to be a cheerleader for our kids and noticing things in them, saying, “Try it; I think you would do great at doing that.”

Because the whole mentoring process is really about people trying things and not doing them perfectly. That’s what it is, right? Then you celebrate the effort. Then you come along and [say], “What if you try this the next time.” That’s what we all need. That’s what I need.

Trying to do that with my kids; not just [saying], “Don’t be bugging each other.” But [say], “Try things,” and do things that are different that I don’t know how to do.

Ann: I love the cake idea.

Don: Isn’t that wonderful?

Ann: Yes, what a great idea, because you feel so worthless when you have failed. But to have the parents celebrating, “But you did it. Way to go!” And it helps you learn that this is maybe not the area I’m intended to use my gifts; they’re not there.

I remember, I think I was 19, and I heard a woman speak. She had this big graphic picture of a funnel on the screen. I thought, “That’s interesting. What’s the funnel for?”

She said, “When we’re younger we should try as many things; the funnel is wide at the top. You’re just throwing all kinds of ideas in the funnel. The older that you get, you’re going to realize ‘Oh, that wasn’t me that wasn’t me.’ But you begin to learn as you get older; like, ‘This is it; this is my gift.’”

We’ve seen that in our own kids. I forget how old we were when someone said, “Raise your kids according to their bent.” It made me start thinking—

Dave: —their giftedness is what it was.

Ann: Yes, yes; totally. So, it made us start looking for our kids’ gifts. They’re all so unique and different, and we started celebrating those.

Dave: Somebody who taught me that better than anybody is her dad. I was just thinking—

Ann: He didn’t do that for me. [Laughter]

Dave: Well, in some ways he did.

Ann: He got better.

Dave: He was a factory guy most of his life. He would say, “I’m not very gifted.” But he really had a genius productive manufacturing mind.

But he was one of my coaches in high school. This was before I was dating Ann. I am on a ladder at a dairy in our little town, because I got a summer job my sophomore year. I’m 15. I’m at the top of this ladder on a sidewalk, and her dad, who I knew but didn’t know great, looks up and says, “Wilson, what are you doing up there?”

I look down and he’s way down there. I’m scared to death, by the way. I’m up there shaking; I have to get this caulk out of these windows. Because my job all summer was “All the dirty work, you go do it.” They’d give me a list every day.

You probably know this story.

Ann: Yes, I do.

Dave: He looked at me, and he [said], “Come down here.” Because I respect the man, I came down. He sat there and He [said], “This is a waste of your life.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “This isn’t what you should be doing this summer.” I looked at him thinking, “Okay, I’m going to go back up the ladder.” But before I did, he said, “You’re an athlete. You’re a scholarship athlete. You will get a D1 [Division 1] scholarship. Your summer should be throwing a football.”

Don: Interesting.

Dave: I quit the job that day.

Don: What? Is that right?

Dave: I did. I went home and told my mom, and she [said], “What? Dick Barren told you [that] you should do this?”

Ann: Just so you know: None of us got to quit our jobs that summer. [Laughter]

Don: Yes, yes.

Ann: But I do remember—

Dave: I got a scholarship. He saw what I probably didn’t even see but also thought, “That’s sort of a waste of time.”

He said, “No, that’s something you’re good at. You’re going to make money at this. You’re not going to have to pay for college.”

Ann: My dad was great at that.

Dave: And he mentored me in that way. He did it when our oldest son—he came up to [CJ] and he said, “CJ, I’m going over to see this guy. He’s a robotics guy. You’re into that kind of stuff. Let’s go.”

I remember watching CJ light up as he walked into this room. I’m thinking, “What do these things do?” That’s what he does with his life. That’s calling out the gifts in people, right?

Don: I love the story, and this is practical for parents, I think, too. Sometimes we don’t have what it takes to mentor our kids in their bent. I remember my oldest son. He’s always so mechanical, and he’d say, “Dad, can we build a spaceship. Can we build a…?”

I’d literally—this would be my answer: “I could write a short story about someone who builds a spaceship—” [Laughter] “—but I can’t build a spaceship.”

I remember meeting this guy at church who had some engineering job and talking with him. I found out he builds spaceships with his kids all the time. So, I invited him to have a relationship with my son: “Can we come over?” and PVC pipes. My son thought he had gone to heaven. It was this incredible thing.

There’s something cool—we know that faith sticks more if kids have five—the “Sticky Faith” stuff out of Fuller [Youth Institute] —five adults who are believers in their lives.

[See also FamilyLife Today program: The Sticky Faith Guide with guest Kara Powell]

Ann: Wait; wait. Just stop right there and let listeners hear that. Because that’s important; I don’t think a lot of people have heard that.

Don: Yes. Out of the Fuller Institute, one of the things they’ve found is one of the things that correlates with kids once they become adults go to college, having their faith stick is if they have five Christian adults in their life on their team.

Dave: Besides their parents.

Don: Besides their parents.

There was a guy, with my oldest at church, and I said, “I was wondering if you could be on Simon’s team?”

He went, “Oh, what does that mean?”

I said, “I don’t know, but I read in this book. You’re someone who you have this totally different bent that’s more like him. Could you just talk to him in church every now and then and be….” That guy ended up being Simon’s first boss.

Ann and Dave: Oohh!

Don: That guy was a small business owner. There’s something—it’s okay that we— “It takes a village.”-

Ann: Bring other people in.

Don: And we bring other people in. Then, I also try with other people’s children to say, “Man, I notice this about you. This is a great thing.” I think a really practical thing we can do when we see other people up on a ladder, or too, bring other people into our children’s lives, and say, “I want to help you develop in this area, but I’m no good at it.”

I remember when my son started pitching the baseball so hard it hurt my glove. And I had a hard time seeing the ball because I wear these progressive lenses now. [Laughter] It was “I need to get some other baseball people in your life” to help push him in ways that I can’t.

There’s kind of a parental wisdom in that, as well. In the Scriptures you see that. You see this kind of “iron sharpening iron.” We’re made for that. We’re meant to be influenced and to influence other people.

Ann: It also refers back to your findings. When people were asked to rate their gifts from one to ten. Do they have any? What was it again? Will you say it?

Don: How gifted would you say you are--

Ann: That’s it.

Don: —zero to ten?” The people who were zero who say zero are disconnected. That’s one of the features that they have.

Ann: Think about it: It’s so easy for our kids to isolate more than ever now. Because they’re in their rooms they’re on their phones more than ever now they’re on their computers they’re on their anything. To be intentional to bring people into their lives that will speak life into them that will help them on that journey disciple them.

Dave: I would add—we put this in our No Perfect Parents book— “Pray that God would bring those people into your son or daughter’s life.”

Don: Yes.

Dave: God did for us.

Ann: He answers.

Dave: But when you pray that, then you look.

Ann: Yes.

Don: Yes.

Dave: “Who’s got things that I don’t have?”

Don: “Is that an answer to prayer?”

Dave: It could literally change your life. It changed ours.

Shelby: I love that right there at the end with Don and the Wilsons—pray for God to bring those people into your lives and into your kids lives. I really honestly believe that your prayers shape your destiny. So, let’s shape our destinies and ask God for gospel-centered people in our lives and in the lives of our kids.

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Don Everts on FamilyLife Today.

Don has written a book called Discover Your Gifts: Discovering How God Made You and Everyone You Know. This book explores the gifts God has given every person and what new research reveals about the difference those gifts can make for us, for our churches, and for our communities.

We love this book and it’s going to be our gift to you when you partner with us financially. It’s about gifts. If you give a gift—[Laughter]—I don’t know—I just thought that was funny. You can go online to, or give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Feel free to drop us something in the mail. This will require an envelope, paper and maybe even a pen. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832.

We hope you’ll join us tomorrow because Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be joined in the studio by Meg Meeker. She’s going to talk to us about a lot of important things that are particularly relevant for our culture right now, including how to set healthy digital boundaries for kids. Because boundaries show your kids you care. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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