Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Discerning Who (and Whose) We Are

One of the hardest things for me, as well as the students whom I serve, is to discern accurately our own gifts and callings. Attending to God's own guidance in that process of discerning is particularly challenging. However, it is far more important to be able to move from our own (perennial?) confusion about our gifts and callings to rest in the confession that "whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine" (Bonhoeffer).

These helpful words focused my heart this morning; perhaps they will yours. From L. Gregory Jones and Kevin R. Armstrong, Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry (2006): 100-1

We human beings tend to be a complicated mixture of self-assertion and self-abnegation, caught in webs of self-deception of which we are unaware. So also do we tend to fail to discern accurately our own gifts and calling. We often get the discernment partially right, but also partially wrong. Over time, we seek to learn how to narrate our lives truthfully in ways that will enable us to discover the life that is really life.

We do so by locating our lives...in relation to God. Only God knows fully who we are. As we seek to identify how God is calling us to live by patterning our lives in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, we discover how the particular, distinctive story of each of our lives can be returned to us redemptively.

1 comment:

Dave Linton said...

Sean, you are right. It is hard to dicern our own gifts and callings. I have trouble with this too. I particularly like Mr. Armstrong's statement that, "We do so [narrate our lives] by locating our lives...in relation to God. I find it helpful to think of my life within the church. This is one of those corporate/individual covenant things that is so fasinating. By looking at the community rather than the individual, we shift our view from a view of self to a view of the body. What does the body need? By identifying what the body needs rather than our own gifts, we are challenged to respond rather than analyze. So if I respond, even though I may not think myself the most gifted in the area, I develop a gift or discover a gift I didn't know I had. This way of thinking has helped me.