This past weekend was our semi-annual weekend retreat for UST law students (which we have also opened in recent years to young alumni, so our group was a mix of students and alumni). It is always a grace-filled experience for all of us involved.
Saturday morning, my colleague Jennifer Wright led a session devoted to helping the participants think about their calling. She invited them to three short period of reflection. The questions she invited the participants to consider go to the central elements of discerning vocation and so I thought they are worth sharing:
Joy: Where is your deepeest joy? As you look back on your lift experiences, what are that things you have done that have given you a profound sense of joy?
Gifts: Where have people – people who konw you well and have seen you in various circumstances – said to you, “You are good at x” or “You should do y, you would be really good at it” or “z is something you should think about doing’? That is, what have you learned from other about your gifts? [Note: There are different ways to reflect on our giftedness. I, too, often suggest to people that they consider what others have observed about them as well as their own assessment of their gifts.]
Needs of the world: We live in a world of tremendous hurt and we can not be open to all of it (or solve all of it). Of all of the pain and suffering of the world, of all of the areas of need, what speaks to your heart? What part of the pain of the world can you not bear to leave alone? Where do you experience the pain of hte world and feel the need to do something about it?
There is no matrix that automatically gives you the answer to your vocation depending on how you answer these questions, but a consideration of these three areas: what brings you joy, what are your gifts, and what are the needs of the world that speak to you – will go a long way toward clarifying options that may be presented.