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Vocational guide Jeff Compton-Nelson speaks with Josh about his role in supporting seminary students to discern who they are and how they will live into the life God is giving them. He also shares his personal vocational journey, which has brought surprises and gifts. Developing a concept map of calling, they explore the universal callings of all people, the relationship between vocation and career, ordained ministry and chaplaincy, the vocation of art and writing and the importance of community and renewing the mind in discerning God's will.
Below's highlight from today's Forecast has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.
On being really bad at predicting the future
If you were to talk to Angela, my wife, she might say I've been in a vocational crisis for several years. There is an ironic fittingness to my being in this role. In some part, it makes sense having someone in this role who's had their own prolonged vocational crisis -- what do I do? Where am I supposed to be? More downs than ups, a lot of closed doors along the way. I sort of laugh at myself. Who would've thought that the vocational crisis that I'm currently in that prompted me to try workshops on how to get jobs or these training sessions on coaching and discerning vision and strategy for your life -- what you're about at your core -- who would've thought that the crisis that brought around the desire to participate in these trainings and workshops was itself the training of guiding students through it as well?...
When I grew up, my sense of vocation was that I had my life plan worked out -- this is what I'll be doing each decade of my life. As it turns out, I'm really bad at predicting the future. None of that has worked out, but it's always been a gift.
I began to see the vocational journey as: you work towards some goal, some current vision of what it looks like to inhabit your vocation as Christians. At some point, the path will turn, or there will be a new path that comes along the path you're on that brings a new way. So work towards a goal, but also with the openness that the odds are that it's going to be something else, and that's OK.
Jeff Compton-Nelson is the Assistant Director of Field Education and Vocational Formation at Duke Divinity School, North Carolina. An ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, Jeff is married, and they have two children. Jeff welcomes feedback; his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the books mentioned in this episode:
A Ray of Darkness by Rowan Williams
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
Live for a Change by Francis DeWar
Josh Seligman is the founding editor of Foreshadow and a co-host of Forecast.
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