Learning from Esau's Error: Protecting Our Calling


February 1, 2024
5 min read

We believe in the One who called us and wait for Him to show up.


We secure that which we value. It’s like putting a security system up in your house — it's designed to protect the people and things that are priceless to you. 

It’s worth our time to pause and take inventory of the things that are valuable to us. The story of Jacob and Esau gives us key insight into what happens when we treat something as less valuable.

Genesis 25:24-34 reads, “When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”

As the firstborn son, Esau’s birthright gave him rights, privileges, and inheritance that Jacob didn’t have. For a measly bowl of soup, Esau gave his birthright to Jacob, not because he was tired, but because he despised it. To despise something is to treat it with contempt. The enemy loves to trip us up with contempt, shifting our perspective to believe that something is worthless, completely lacking in value. Esau’s despisal of his birthright meant that he viewed it as worthless. Because he didn’t see its value, he did not protect and secure what God had given him. 

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to despise our calling. For many of us leading in ministry, if we were truly honest, there are moments when we despise the very thing God called us to do. There are five reasons why we might lose sight of the value of our calling:

1. It’s difficult. Leaders in ministry rarely wear one hat. It can be challenging to manage money, care for people, lead teams, and carry vision while also preaching, teaching, and attending to all of our responsibilities outside of ministry. 

2. It’s dramatic. Life is a rollercoaster, full of high highs and low lows. We walk through transitions, both personal and in ministry, time after time. 

3. It’s draining. There is constant mental, physical, and spiritual demand in ministry. To whom much is given, much is required. If we aren’t regularly going back to our Source, our tank will always be empty.

4. It’s daunting. Carrying out a God-sized vision requires us to be people of faith. Faith is being certain of what we cannot see. It’s the absence of sense — if we can taste, see, hear, touch, or feel it, it’s not faith. 

5. We feel disappointed. It can be easy to compare our lack to their abundance. Slowly but surely, comparison will rob us of joy and leave us disappointed with the miracle we have in our hands. 

Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. When training to run long distances, you don’t give your maximum effort with every run. In fact, 80% of marathon training should be easy runs. In order to go further, we must run slower. It’s not about speed, it’s about building stamina to go the distance. The same is true for our callings — if we don’t learn to put disciplines around what we were made to do, we will eventually grow to despise it. Esau’s error was that he did not value that which he had. We might grow tired and weary, but we cannot afford to be casual with our calling — it leads to the casualty of callings. Discipline is all about forming habits. To protect our callings, we must form habits around two areas: 

The Wonder

We must live with a sense of wonder, standing in reverence and awe of who God is. Psalm 104 is full of reminders of the power, sovereignty, and care of the Lord. Losing wonder leaves us in a dangerous place. We have to fight to keep our wonder, remembering that God called and chose us. Like Jacob, God wrestles with us all not, not to show his strength but until we give in. 

The Work

There is work in our calling. Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. In John 6, Jesus says, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Leading in ministry can be difficult, dramatic, draining, daunting, and disappointing, but our vision is short — God sees the beginning from the end. Our work is to believe and to wait. We believe in the One who called us and wait for Him to show up. Because He called us, He will be faithful to complete the work that He began. When we feel ready to trade our calling for a bowl of soup, we must dig our heels into the ground and wait on Him. Habakkuk 2:3 says, “If it seems slow, wait on it.” The Lord promises to renew the strength of those who wait on Him.

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