There is an unfortunate human tendency to think that we or our ideas define the ideal. By that I mean – not necessarily that we think we are perfect – but that we think our way, or our parameters are the way and the parameters. That is no less true in the spirituaul life than anywhere else.
There is a temptation to decide what the spiritual life should look like and what Christian vocation should look like, as though there were a single template from which all should be drawn.
It is good to remind ourselves that there are many ways to serve God, many ways to labor with Christ, and they don’t all look the same. In the words of one writer, we need to see the “beauty of diverse vocations and the multidimensionality of Christian discipleship.”
“For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.” (Romans)
“And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers…” (Ephesians)
That has many implications. One of them is that discernment of our Christian vocation is a task each person must undertake individually. To be sure, one can and should seek advice from spiritual friends and advisers, but no one can tell another what his Christian discipleship should look like. We can help create an environment that allows others to discern their vocations, their paths, but we can’t do the discernment for them, nor can another do it for us.