We’re in the Public Courtyard this month, doing some thinking about what mission God has called us to. Remember that your mission is the way that God has called and equipped you to serve the Kingdom of God and to participate in the Divine Life by participating in Jesus’ 3-fold mission as Priest, Prophet and King. In this “Spot Check,” we’re going to take a closer look at discerning your heart – what you are passionate about. Remember – our goal isn’t necessarily to come to a rock-solid decision about how God is calling you. Our goal in this Spiritual Project is just to think and pray about it more deeply and to open ourselves to God’s will.
In the Spiritual Project, I encouraged you to reflect on your heart. What are you passionate about? Now let’s get a little more specific.
What Drives You?
The first thing I want you to think about is what motivates you to take action and get involved. For example, when your parish asks for help, what requests make you immediately think, “I can do that!” What cause or issues capture your attention and imagination, or move you to action?
Second, think about the people you feel most passionate about helping. Whom do you feel God is nudging you to help? What type of person – their age, personality, situation – do you enjoy being around the most? Whom do you feel you can most strongly influence? How do you want to influence them?
Next, let’s think about the kinds of needs you like to meet. Brainstorm a list of needs, then rank them according to how excited you are about meeting each need for others. Don’t rank them according to how important you think they are intellectually. Rather, rank them according to how excited you feel when you imagine yourself meeting each need. If you’re a Postulant member of From the Abbey you’ll find a list of needs in the spiritual project guide to get you started. Think about where you think you could make the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God.
Consider what issues you are most passionate about. Let’s try the same exercise. Brainstorm a list of issues, such as abortion, homelessness, alcoholism, and marriage, then rank them according to your level of passion for each issue. Again, don’t rank them according to how important you think they are intellectually. Rather, rank them according to how excited you feel when you imagine yourself being involved in each issue. Postulant members will find another list in the spiritual project guide to get you started. Since there are many reasons we can become passionate about certain issues, such as politics or personal experience, spend some time really thinking about your passionate issues. Try to decide which pursuits would release your passion for God’s love.
Finally, explore your passions by examining your dreams. Not your nighttime dreams, though – I’m talking about your daydreams: your hopes and your ambitions for the Kingdom of God. What God-centered dreams can you uncover in yourself? When you let your imagination drift, do you ever find yourself daydreaming about playing a certain role in God’s perfect Kingdom?
What Others Teach You About Your Heart
These questions are intended to help you explore your own heart. But because we are created by God to live in communion with others, sometimes other people can give us even clearer insight into our hearts than our own reflections. So let’s think about how other people respond to us.
First, think about what kind of help other people seek you out for. What kind so favors do they ask of you? Are there specific skills other people have identified in you? What questions do they ask you? What are you seen as an “expert” at?
Second, think about your heroes. What saints do you admire? What were their missions? Who are your other heroes – in and out of the faith? What do you admire about them? What would you want to emulate in them?
Finally, discerning your mission will eventually require you to get out there and interact with people. When you have some ideas about how God has called and equipped you, you’ll want to start serving others in those areas. Don’t worry if you haven’t firmly nailed down God’s will yet. What you’ll be doing at this stage is sort of testing to see if God will continue guiding you toward your proposed mission as you act. So just start serving. Then pay attention to how the people you serve respond. Do they identify a particular need that you meet well? As you help them, ask them if there is anything else they need that they aren’t getting yet. Also notice what kind of people seem drawn to you, and what kind of people you seem drawn to.
As you serve you’ll also meet other people who are serving in the same area as you, or at least in similar areas. Talk to them! Learn their stories. Find out what drove them to this mission. Ask them about their experiences. Find out what skills and strengths serve them well in their area of service. Talk to them about their spirituality. Find out how their mission fits into their relationship with God. And don’t be afraid to network. You may form relationships that help you build your mission in the future!
Spend some time this week thinking about your mission. And don’t be afraid to get excited about the adventure God is calling you to! Remember that you can find resources for this month’s webcast at myinnerabbey.com, and you can join the free Postulant membership for a bonus ebook and spiritual project guide. In next week’s spot check we’ll explore your natural talents.
Also published on Medium.