Finding my calling in a self-obsessed world

I’m so glad that I finally got round to reading ‘Serious Times‘ by James Emery White. His chapter on vocation is just brilliant! Here is a rather long extract, but it is worth reading all of it!

 

“As I approached forty, I knew I was entering a new season of life and ministry, so I committed myself anew to finding what I was to do with the rest of my life. Instead of discovery, there was a rude awakening. As I faced such questions as What do I do best? and Where could I make the most impact? the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit whispered, “These are the wrong questions.” I thought to myself, What do you mean these are the wrong questions? They are the ones everybody else gets to ask! I didn’t want them to be the wrong questions. They were the only questions I knew, and more than that, they were the ones I most wanted answered. But the troubling idea that I was misguided did not go away. I began to pray and reflect on what was wrong with my quest; I searched the Scriptures. All to no avail. Then my misgivings began to take shape.

It dawned on me that there was not a single case in all of Scripture where someone went on a journey of self-discovery in order to find and follow God’s vocational call. I could not find a single case in Scripture where people went on a hunt for their vocational niche in light of their personality, gifting or experience. I had bought into the self-absorbed thinking that begins and ends with “who I am in Christ” (translation: what is my personal makeup and what it would take to make me fulfilled), and that became a license for the wholesale pursuit of personal pleasure.

In my journey through the biblical materials, I found that people were invited to do something (as with Jeremiah or the disciples), selected to do something (along the lines of David or Samuel) or presented with the opportunity to do something (as were ESter or Deborah). I could not find a single case of someone going off in search of their innate identity, much less trying to order their steps to fulfil who they were “made” to be. Not once did a biblical character say, “This is what would satisfy me, or make me happy, or allow me to be healthy and whole,” and then map out a strategy to make it happen. They simply lived their life in faithfulness and responded to what God brought their way. They submitted their gifts and abilities, investments and labor, to him. And even if God never brought anything their way, they embraced their place in life with the belief that at the very least that had been brought their way.”

Pg. 122-123

Diagnosing the trauma of our current culture

Today I’ve started reading ‘Serious Times‘ by James Emery White. This has been sat on my bookshelf for quite a number of years, and I never quite got round to reading it. I thought the following is such a helpful summary of the trauma of our current culture:

 

“The trauma of our world is that the processes of modernity have failed to deliver. Rather than enhancing personal satisfaction and fulfilment, we live in a barren wasteland. Moral relativism has led to a crisis in values; we find ourselves needing values but not having them, and we are divorced from any means of finding them. Autonomous individualism has led to a lack of vision; there is nothing calling us upward to be more than we naturally are. Narcissistic hedonism has fostered empty souls; anyone who has followed its ever-deadening trail knows how hollow its entreaties are. Reductive naturalism has proven inadequate for human experience; we intuitively know that there is more to reality than what we sense empirically.” (Pg49)