Are you trying to figure out a new career path based on your talents, gifts and callings? Here’s a creative prayer plan that will lead you on an inward journey to discover God’s possibilities.
How to do this prayer practice:
Because our circumstances change throughout our lives we frequently need to re-evaluate our career paths. As the mother of grown children I’ve adapted to a number of different career directions over the years. I’ve worked in fashion, corporate America, retail, as a full time mother, as a style consultant and as a volunteer. After being a stay at home mom for over a decade felt like a race horse at the starting gate. When my husband retired I told him, “I’d like to try my hand at my own business.” I was terrified but knew I wanted to start a business. I was good at dressing myself and other people but I wasn’t sure how that translated into a career. I struggled at first. What exactly was I being called to do? As I began my journey of self discovery, I relied on the peace I felt starting each day reading Bible.
1. Ask God to help you build a strong foundation.
I read my Bible frequently. As I read about the Apostle Paul I noticed something interesting about his career path. Paul, a devout Jew, thought Christianity was a dangerous cult. He was traveling on the road toward a town called Damascus on his way to arrest Christians when he was blinded by a vision in which Jesus appeared to him. This one experience completely changed Paul’s life. He abandoned his former life calling, converted to Christianity and became one of the greatest Christian evangelists and writers of all time. What struck me was that Paul was not given a message; rather he was brought into an overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ that compelled him to minister and witness. It is the relationship that Paul had with Jesus that built his foundation and helped him know without a shadow of a doubt what he was to do. In order to get a true sense of your “calling,” “vision,” “gifts” or “talents,” you need to have a foundation. A relationship with Christ must exist.
2. Ask God to help you believe that you have talents and gifts.
Most of us don’t get that overpowering feeling of “being called.” We think about Paul who discovered his call in a blinding moment of revelation on the Road to Damascus where he had a clear vision of what he was to do for Christ. (See Acts chapter 9) Maybe you too have been “called.” If you haven’t had a dramatic calling, it doesn’t mean you are not special, that you don’t have talents and gifts to bring. Maybe you are just being developed…. Maybe your foundation is still being built.
As my journey continued, I never lost sight of the belief that we all have talents and gifts that God can use. John 15:16 took on new meaning for me where Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (NIV) There’s a lot of talk about of gifting in the Bible. First Corinthians chapter 12 tells us that we all have gifts. As a mother, I have always felt that every child is special…gifted and it was the role of a parent to help that child discover those gifts. That’s the way God made us and that’s how he sees us.
3. Ask God to revive your enthusiasm about the many possibilities of what you might be.
Children are always passionate about being something when they grow up. Yet too often we leave the dream behind. Sometimes “life” gets in the way and we lose the dream. In high school I tutored 3rd grade students. I continued to tutor in college at a local boy’s home. I loved it. My mother, who had been a teacher discouraged me from teaching because she felt it was difficult to support myself as a teach if I never married. I also had a love of fashion and as a result, I majored in fashion merchandising and ironically ended up working for a large corporation for the next decade. Often we need to revive our confidence and enthusiasm and try to discern our gifts. Ask God to give you a passion for something.
4. Engage in creative awareness to discover what draws you and why
As the years went by I found certain things I really liked in each job. From my high school days I knew I liked teaching. From my corporate career days I knew I liked working with an audience. From my retail days I knew I liked showing people how to use a product. From my fashion merchandising days I knew I had an eye for style. And from my faith and from my role as a mom, I knew I wanted to help people feel encouraged and empowered.
For years I had clipped pictures of things that appealed to me. As I pondered what to do I thought about those pictures and asked myself what I liked about them and what they had in common. I began writing, journalling my thoughts and found that it opened up spaces of creativity. I read the Bible and found that every time I read a passage, I could interpret portions of it to what I was discovering about myself. Becoming aware of your gifts is often like creating a quilt. My final discovery process took several years, but God finally helped me put all of those pieces from my various jobs together. That’s when I started a business called StyleYOUnivesity where I teach women how to find and embrace their unique sense of fashion.
An exercise students complete in my style workshops involves a self discovery project. I help my students look beyond their closets at what they’ve always worn to their potential. By cutting out pictures from magazines of clothing they like to wear – “everyday, date night, and weekend” they create a visual montage. Clipping pictures of items other than clothing they are drawn to- like houses, cars, shoes, furniture expands their vision and they are able to see what all of this has in common. Paying close attention to details, they see quickly it’s not simply about style.. This exercise helps peel back the layers to find out more about their personality, what appeals to them and why. When we first start the project the women often aren’t enthusiastic about doing it but once they’ve tried it, they gain far more value from it than from hours of advice.
When you’re trying to discover your gifts you can do the same sort of self discovery project. Collect pictures of all the things you are attracted to and put them in a folder. You may not see things that interest you right away but soon you’ll be seeing them everywhere. You’re awakening yourself to God’s possibilities. Look at the folder each week and reflect on what you like about them. As you add more pictures you will be drawn to deeper levels of awareness.
If a picture gathering project doesn’t appeal to you, find a self discovery process that does. For instance, when our son oldest son graduated and didn’t have a job, I took him away for a trip. He’s a guy and he wasn’t interested in cutting out pictures. I asked him questions instead such as, “Five years from now, where would you like to be?” “What’s always been your dream?” If you’re a talker, talk it over with someone. If you’re a writer, jot things down.
These are some of the things you might want to talk over with God in prayer. Ask God to help you see chapters of your life, the value of age, what made you who you are, what your experiences have been, and how faith has helped you adapt to the ebb and flow of life. Allow God to challenge your old notions that life always has to be “bigger, better, more” to be satisfying.
5. Take life as it comes each day.
I love what I’m doing now. It’s gratifying to see things fall into place as I do webinars and develop new teaching ideas. When you prayerfully approach your desire for a new direction, life will unfold when you allow it to. Don’t worry. Talk it over with God. Then keep your eyes and heart open to the things that draw you. Yes, it takes a little patience. Things don’t always unfold in our time. Instead they unfold in God’s time. Simply continue to believe that as you look at the gifts around you today that you are seeing divine pieces of God’s beautiful tomorrow. Enjoy the process!
Copyright Karen Hughes 2012 all rights reserved