Spiritual Counseling and Vocational Identity Development
Individuals yearn to develop a deeper understanding of their role in this world (Proverbs 11:14). We live in a rich multicultural world within a diverse population filled with spiritually driven individuals whose values and inborn gifts are an essential part of their character. However, we often look through different lenses where our attention is less on embracing our uniqueness and nurturing respect for each other, and more about just surviving. This directly impacts the quality of our personal and professional relationships, which become strained.
We are taught to manage ourselves, our problems, and to be in control of every aspect of life. Formatively, this attempts to place ourselves at the center of our universe and pushes others outside of our lives. We may inadvertently subjugate our connection with God and find ourselves praying only in a time of need and then take control once again as things improve. In response to this, our Hope-Centered spiritual counseling focuses on guiding individuals through life stressors back to a life that holds meaning and reframes their worldview. Developmentally, when individuals focus on self-directed needs they may navigate pathways and lose their way. However, what they are truly looking for is a pathway of congruence or restoration. We believe that we were designed to connect with our loving God and develop an enduring spiritual relationship that has the power to stay the course and transform how we see ourselves and others through a new lens. Hope is found through living out life through a process of spiritual formation back to wholeness. This requires making a commitment to intentional change, tuning our hearts and minds and abiding in an implicit understanding that our role on this earth is to share our gifts with others. This new attitude offers new meaning and purpose to those we counsel.
We also believe that every human is blessed with a talented mind, has been designed for a purpose and that we are there to guide them on their journey to actualize their calling (Jeremiah 29:11). We use methods to awaken and evidence "how" we are to live and the hope that ensues. It is a process of self-reflection, leading to self-clarity and transformation, to becoming the person we were intended us to become, to reshape our distorted lens, and to witness how change emerges from the inside out.
Vocational Identity Development We live in a world where “what” we do is often shaped by the expectations of others. This world attempts to mold our perspective of life (attitude), it fundamentally impacts "how" we feel about ourselves (emotions), and "how" we operate in life (behavior). However, we are also born with gifts that were designed not to hoarded, but rather shared with others.
Yet, one of the most common questions when meeting someone is:
"So...what do you do?" Whether we like it or not, we tend not to be defined by our passions or values, but instead by our job title. So, when we stop and think about it..."
*Do our career paths really engage our interests, passions and natural abilities or do we leave a part of ourselves back at home or at the office? Are we working towards meaningful and satisfying goals we've created or are we just 'in it for the money?'"
Identity Inquiry From a spiritual perspective, there are two fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves:
1. Is their purpose in “what” we do in life, where we are rewarded from experiences that allow us to reflect our uniqueness while connecting with others? Isn't this "why" we were designed/created?
2. "What" gifts or competencies are we born with to support a pathway that has meaning and "how" may they be developed into a vocation that really matters?
So, ask yourself this:
What if we could refine this distorted lens that teaches us to model our behavior after others (old self), adopt a new attitude that implicitly reveals that these gifts are blessings, and understand that they are designed to serve others in both our personal and professional lives (Ephesians 4:22)?
What if we could begin to see the good in others and tune our hearts by sharing our gifts that make a contribution where we receive meaningful emotional rewards? This new behavior evokes the foundation of a new identity and our becoming a "new self” (Ephesians 4:24).
Developing our identity is often self-directed leaving an existential vacuum that needs to be filled. Finding our "true self" requires realignment. If we truly want to know who we are we need to look to the One who created us whose hope is that we look to Him for an enduring relationship. In that pursuit, we discover we are loved and accepted beyond comprehension. We are invited to be a part of something greater than ourselves in a process that transforms a new way of thinking and living.
When we set aside our ambition and give of our “self,” then we begin to perceive how, “what” we do in life is driven by love. If we are faithful stewards of these gifts, then developing them so that they may be cultivated and shared with others manifests a new attitude, is emotionally rewarded by self-less giving, and that behavior is repeated because it just feels right (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Faith-> Trust-> Hope Faith or belief in our inherent talent also requires trusting where it originates from in order to foster hope (Manning, 2000). This approach to living connects these two dynamics to believe, which actualizes our trusting the purpose of our innate strengths. This newfound hope amplifies and empowers the understanding that these are blessings from above, designed to be used, not just for ourselves, but for others in this world (Isaiah 9:2-7). In this way, we may leave our mark and impact others in "what" we do. There is a higher power that reveals that we are to be used as an instrument to pursue our calling, and to fulfill greater things than we could ever imagine. This is what we are being called to do: to become vessels to do His work on earth. If we can "live into" this belief, then trust compels us to walk with this power as it is working within us from the inside out, transforming, and radiating its presence (Imago Dei) in all that we do. In this endeavor, we are discover hope and authentic joy. Vocational Identity Process
We work with churches, schools, businesses and individuals using subjective narrative assessments in workshop settings to assist in discerning “who” we are and "who" we've always been, before life stressors and their challenges caused us to question their pathway in life. We also use a sophosticated assessment instrument in individual counseling that objectively identifies their inborn abilities, those gifts we were born with, which represent our cognitive hard wiring that allows us to flourish. Integrating these two allows individuals to distill “what” pathways hold meaning and “why”? This process illuminates "how” using their gifts will support them on a journey in this world of work in order to begin "living-out" "what" they were designed to become. Formatively, their vocational identity is attuned with what emerges as their spiritual identity creating a newfound understanding of the meaning of their goal pursuits.