What do you want to be when you grow up?
Several years ago I read a book called The Voice of Jesus by Gordon Smith and this week I recalled his powerful chapter on vocational discernment or, in other words, a spiritual approach to answering my initial question.
Smith says: “This discernment includes the capacity to know one’s vocation, or how one is being called, at this time and in this place, to give of one’s energies, whether it is in a career or in volunteer service.”
He continues. “The task of discerning vocation is fundamental for anyone who wishes to live with personal integrity, courage and authenticity.”
Perhaps that statement best captures why I am drawn to Smith’s perspective because he doesn’t limit vocation simply to paid work. It’s about life choices and life style. And, it’s about learning how to make decisions throughout our lives. He refers to people heading into retirement requiring an ability to discern involvements as much as young people freshly entering the work force because change happens over the life span. And where there is change, there is choice.
I recall a session I used to teach on navigating change and encountering clients who were adamantly opposed to this reality. They would sit through the discussion holding fast to their position that they had no desire, need or intent to change. They appeared stubborn, unrelenting and naïve. I came to think they were mostly afraid.
Change has a way of tapping into deep places where we long to know the world is predictable and secure. Not much is.
Change will continue to be the norm “…and this demands that we make no assumptions based on the past but rather ask, what is God calling me to be and do in this place at this time?” Or, as Smith also says, “who am I and to what am I being called?”
So today I am focusing on asking, “Who am I?” and using some of Gordon Smith’s ideas to help me better “match clarity about ourselves with clarity about our world, particularly our immediate circumstances.” Here are his suggested questions:
What matters to me?
What makes me angry?
What sustains hope and beauty and truth for me?
What brings me joy?
Where do I feel that I have a firm piece of ground on which to stand, so that I can make a difference?
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst