At the Curate women’s summit this past weekend, one main thing that stood out to me across the various breakout sessions was the speakers’ emphasis on having self-understanding while interacting with our community. And, each of the session leaders did an excellent job of keeping this idea of personal growth within a Christian lens.
I found this theme across various topics, so let me summarize in a few more specific points:
A fulfilling vocation has nothing to do with the specifics of our jobs.
Our primary job on earth is to glorify God. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6, “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
There is no one “Mr. Right” when it comes to our careers. I don’t think God cares what our job title is. What matters is whether we work for the good of Christ and others in your position.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Moreover, we are not permanently stuck with any career decision we make. Throughout different stages of life, God calls us to use our gifts to fulfill his purpose in different ways.
And in terms of discovering that vocation for this stage of life, we should examine our abilities and interests rather than searching for something new outside of ourselves.
“It is not so much about finding your purpose, but facing it,” Hillsdale College alumna Angela Kaufman ‘14 encouraged attendees in one session. “Tap into something that is already there.”
We should look for what excites us about the various tasks we do at college and use that insight to seek a position where we can use our gifts to best serve others.
We must each make the decision that best suits our needs and abilities in the time that is given us. As Paul later says in 1 Corinthians 7, “only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”
Finding self-fulfillment and pouring into others is a constant, mutual process.
Just as we better serve others in a fulfilling vocation, we can also better pour into other’s lives when we have filled ourselves with the truth.
As Health Services counselor Kaitlyn Zellner stressed in her discussion, we cannot build an intimate relationship with another person if we are not also intimate with ourselves. For example, if we are not honest and compassionate with ourselves, how can we communicate with others honestly and compassionately?
But the beautiful thing about life is that both your personal growth and the growth of others are happening simultaneously, especially in the collegiate environment.
As Director of Field Recruitment for Hillsdale College Jenny Pridgeon said, “we build community so they can build you up in return.”
Personal growth is not something to be done so we can stand on a pedestal and condescend to help others. We each need a community to encourage and correct us. To call us out when we can’t see the ideal job that is right before us, and to cut us down to size when we need a dose of humility.
Community is just as important to self-development as alone time is. While we must give ourselves personal time with the Lord, we must also surround ourselves with those who can push us to a richer pursuit of Christ.
But we must find ultimate worth in our identity as children of God.
We often talk about the enriching learning and job opportunities here at Hillsdale. We also like to talk about the rich friendships and relationships that develop in this environment. While all of these things are a vast source of love, encouragement, and comfort, they cannot be our ultimate source of fulfillment.
If we stop there, we will miss the primary reason for personal growth and doing good for others: Christ.
People are sinful. People fail us, even when they love us. We will fail other people too. And we will fail ourselves. We must be fair in our expectations of both ourselves and others.
As Heather Miller reminded listeners in her discussion on marriage, we must not look to others for the perfect contentment that only God can give us. We must always remember that the ultimate source of love, encouragement, and comfort comes from Christ. And when we overflow with that security, we can better share it with others.