Scribbling Outside the Lines

Playing beyond the boundaries in hopes of finding God and inspiration


Adam Walker CleavelandThe calling(s) of multipotentialites
We have not one, but many, vocations in this life.

by Adam Walker Cleaveland

“So, what is your calling?”

As well-intentioned as that common question is, it does a disservice to many people, I think.

If I were to suggest a small grammatical edit to the question itself, I might change it to: “So, what are your callings?”

In her TEDxBend talk, “Why some of us don’t have one true calling,” writer and artist Emilie Wapnick talks about people whom she calls “multipotentialites.” These are people who have varied interests and will probably not settle down into one job and make a career of it.

As I continue to live into my new life as a pastor, artist, and entrepreneur, I realize I am living the life of a multipotentialite. In feedback and emails I’ve received about my new project, Illustrated Children’s Moments, one of the most common responses has been, “Thank you for your ministry.” And you know what? They’re right; that is a ministry. My calling wasn’t solely to be a parish pastor working with youth. That was one calling. My current calling is much more: to help out more around the house, to be involved in a few activities I care deeply about, and to pursue this ministry of art and illustration.

This is my calling, right now. Will I have a different calling in the future? Most certainly. And that is why I think we need to stop thinking about calling in the singular, because it puts unneeded stress on those who are in the process of discerning the various ways in which God is in fact calling them and wanting to use them.

"callings" by Adam Walker Cleaveland

When I’m working on my illustrations, or when I sat down this past weekend to work on Advent coloring sheets, I am living into my current calling as an artist. And as I reframe how I think about calling, and continue to embrace this identity as a multipotentialite, I am able to step into the freedom that my many callings are giving me in my life right now.

Adam Walker Cleaveland is a pastor who lives in Chicago. He loves thinking about the future of the church, playing with his three-year-old son and drawing and sketchnoting. Adam blogs at, where he writes about ministry, theology, art, and social media. You can find Adam online at, on Facebook at, or on Twitter at @adamwc.