As a spiritual director, I regularly journey with people who are seeking God’s will in their lives. Young people frequently ask the question of whether they are called to marriage, religious life or priesthood. Young people who are already dating ask whether this is “the one”. Young people who are drawn to religious life ask which religious community is the right one for them. These are all important questions, but they often lose sight of the more foundational question.
When we group people into huge categories such as “priest” or ”religious” or “married” we sometimes overlook the more fundamental question of our individual uniqueness and the unrepeatability of the way God made us. Pope Francis captured this beautifully in his exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate using the concepts of mission: “Each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel,” (#19) and message: “Every saint is a message which the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people.” (#21) Using the terms of mission and message, Pope Francis reiterates what Pope Saint John Paul II expressed in his Theology of the Body that each person is “set into a unique, exclusive and unrepeatable relationship with God himself.” (TOB 6:2)
Each person has a unique message to share with the world. Each person has a unique and unrepeatable mission to carry out. It is insufficient to reduce this to “marriage” or “priesthood.” Those are two wonderful paths in life and one of those may be the path on which that mission can be carried out, but the most important thing for each one of us to develop our own unique and unrepeatable relationship with God starting wherever we are today. That is the first take-away from this post and the reader may want to stop right here and contemplate what this means for you.
One way to explore our individual uniqueness is through a human strengths assessment or through understanding one’s unique motivational blueprint. Although this seems to put us back into repeatable and general categories, the reality is that the particular combination of strengths and particular arrangement of motivational patterns elucidates the uniqueness of the individual rather than concealing it. As a spiritual director, I have the blessing of knowing individuals in a very deep, personal and meaningful way. Time and again, however, I have gained new insights from the results that come when my directees have taken an assessment such as Strengthsfinder or MCORE.
These two assessments gather together and present information about human uniqueness that can be a great help in guiding individuals to paths that are most deeply fulfilling for them. I hope to offer some additional posts to go into some examples and detailed applications of this information for enhanced spiritual direction. In this post, however, I will conclude with a podcast that I was able to record recently with one of the developers of MCORE, Joshua Miller. Joshua Miller and Luke Burgis have also written a book called Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person that would be valuable reading for anyone who is seeking to understand themselves more deeply, seeking their purpose in life, or helping others in that way.
Please tune in to our podcast episode (by clicking that link) to understand some ways that Spiritual Direction (and some of the material from our book Spiritual Direction: A Guide for Sharing the Father’s Love), interface with Joshua’s work on understanding our motivational blueprint. I hope that all these efforts will assist anyone who is seeking true happiness to find their purpose and help them live their mission and proclaim their message.