Hillsdale College hosted Curate, a one day womens’ summit. Courtesy | Joanna Dell

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.