Find Your Personal Calling. April 09 tip
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In this month's tip, I invite you to develop a clearer sense of your “personal calling”. What do I mean by the term? It is the path that God has invited you to follow while you are here on earth. I see “personal calling” in general terms; like an umbrella that covers your entire life. It contains many spokes. While your personal calling encompasses your main purpose in life, it has different spokes such as your interests, lifestyle, career and acts of service. While specific spokes might be more evident at different times in your life, they still are attached to the umbrella and are a part of it.
This does not have to be an overwhelming exercise. In reality, your personal calling is already within you and you are probably doing it in some ways. The trick is to become fully conscious of your distinctive invitation in order for you to live a more purposeful life. Below are a few suggestions that will assist you in discovering your personal calling:
1. Discover your natural talents and abilities. Look at areas of achievement that already exist in your life; places where you have already been successful. Evaluate if this success was difficult to attain or relatively easy. For example, are you good with your hands? Does math come easily to you? Take an honest inventory of your achievements, as well as the areas that you are not as competent in. Pay attention to subjects that you find interesting and which ones you find boring because they are clues that will help you to discover your unique path.
2. Your self image is shaped by your innate personality, your abilities, and interests as well as your hopes, dreams and values. The way you define yourself will influence how you invest your time, use your talents and commit to relationships. You need to become self analytical and discover your authentic self. You will want to factor in your personality because it will affect how you are most comfortable using your gifts and abilities. For example, do you prefer to work quietly and alone or would you rather work with a group of people? Neither quality is superior but it is important to know your preference because when you are forced to minister out of character for your temperament, it will create tension, discomfort and deplete your emotional energy.
3. Ask objective people for their candid opinion of your talents and strengths. Do not dismiss repetitive compliments; write them down and pay attention to the recurring themes because they are clues to your strengths and abilities. For example, if you constantly hear that you are a “good listener” or “you are organized” begin to recognize that this is one of your talents. Now I need to warn you, sometimes your loved ones will not understand your personal calling and criticize you. They might even try to pressure you into conforming to what they think you should do. Ignore them. You need to stay focused on where you think God is leading you, avoid comparisons, and seek only confirmation through the fruits of peace, love and joy.
4. An easy way to discover your personal calling is to pay attention to the passion that you feel when you think about a certain activity or interest. Your enthusiasm will reveal your authentic self, as opposed to what others think you should be or what circumstances force you to be. People rarely excel at tasks they do not enjoy doing or do not feel passionate about. If you attempt to follow someone else’s idea of your personal calling, you may be able to produce results but they will take more time and energy. When you are doing what God called you to do, you will find that you excel effortlessly.
Take a moment. Ask yourself what you really enjoy doing? When do you feel most energetic and alive? What activity makes you loose track of time and feels effortless? Once you have a sense of what invigorates you, take a risk and just do it! The stirrings in your heart will direct you to your personal calling. Sometimes stepping out to honor this calling will have astonishing results. For example, when I wrote the Journey Back to Self program, I thought I was writing a one time presentation. I never intended to record a CD, go on the lecture circuit or write monthly tips. But God saw an unused spoke in my umbrella and here I am on a new path. The confirmation that this is my path is that the “work” is occurring effortlessly and is fun.
5. Ask for guidance. You are not on this journey alone. You want to at least consider the idea that your personal calling should be a co-creation with the Creator. When you are looking for your personal calling, your path in life, ask for assistance. Then trust that you will receive an answer. I would like to conclude the April tip by paraphrasing a prayer written by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, social activist and author. You may wish to begin saying it.
God, I have no idea where I am going…
the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so…
I know that you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always. Amen
1. List your strengths and your interests.
2. Write down the activities that make you feel most alive.
3. If you knew that you could not fail, what would you try to do?