Talk Calling

Published on: 1 May 2018

Anna Walker unpacks a new resource from CPAS aimed at helping 14 to 18-year-olds explore the God possibilities for their lives.

Making choices about work, study, university or life direction can be hard at any age, but perhaps even more so at the age of 17 or 18, when many young people start to step out in independence and seriously begin to consider and decide on what’s next.

Decisions at this formative age may not definitively set a life path, but forging a direction is an important step. As a Christian, there can also be the challenge of how to make the best choices and decisions alongside discerning and considering what path God might be calling you along.

The question of ‘calling’ is often ambiguous and can be hard to grapple with. What does ‘calling’ truly mean? Is it different from ‘work’, ‘vocation’ or ‘career’? How do I know what my ‘calling’ is? Does it co-exist with my personal interests and talents? And how do I live it out?

Talk Calling is a useful resource that innovatively and sensitively begins to open up conversations to help young people explore the overall question ‘What does God want me to do with my life?’

The pack contains four sets of cards;

  • Pictures – for reflecting on what an individual thinks and feels about future decisions and how God might influence them.
  • About me – questions designed to help an individual think about their own gifts, abilities and experiences.
  • Bible verses – helping explore what the Bible has to say about calling.
  • Blockages – identifying internal barriers that may hinder decision-making or taking the next step forward.

The cards can be used flexibly and in different contexts, such as one-to-one mentoring, small groups, or as part of an awayday or residential.

Becky Wills, Gen2 Children & Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Peterborough, was involved in piloting the Talk Calling materials before publication and explains: “My pilot group, led by myself and the vicar, was with a small group of six to seven young people, aged 13–17 years old (school years 9–11). It was a ‘churched’ group, who knew each other very well but who don’t usually like to talk about anything ‘deep’ or too spiritual.

“The resource is great because it allows for a gentle way in, with questions and icebreakers that get them chatting (e.g. about favourite school subjects, things they enjoy doing etc.) but it was actually the Bible quote section that really opened them up into a good discussion. The session lasted the full hour and a half but the discussion could have gone on for longer. They seemed to gain a much better understanding of the concept of vocation.”

Becky concludes: “Talk Calling’s flexibility means that each group can experience it differently; lively, younger teens can enjoy a chat about school and their personal likes/dislikes, or a mature group, used to deep discussion and Bible study, can really get their teeth into some of the questions raised. It’s a resource that will open up a dialogue with young people to think about where God may be calling them and can be revisited at different ages and stages. A definite must for a youth workers’ arsenal of resources!”

On the strength of its recommendation and the quality of the pack, individuals on the current Diocese of Norwich Growing Young Leaders course were given the chance to have a look at the resource, have a brief taster and give their comments.

Talk Calling opened up some really positive conversations and got the Growing Young Leaders thinking about times when God might have spoken to them about their calling and ways in which the materials helped them to reflect and learn about themselves. Some of them already had a clear sense of calling, such as ordination, while others were tentative about just the next step on the horizon: “a gap year?” or even “I don’t know”.

We asked them if the materials had helped them and their response was encouraging. “It helped me to visualise the future”, and “It was really helpful – it helped to trigger my thoughts”. In particular, the group drew out the positives of having time to focus and reflect on the questions and materials together; “It’s hard to think about my future on my own – it’s nice to do it together”, and it challenged their perspectives; one individual, having used the picture cards, commented: “You think you know yourself but it’s hard, sometimes I didn’t pick up the images I thought I would have gone for”.

Today’s culture spends a lot of time trying to fit people into boxes and young people often feel the pressure of this as they make decisions very early on about what they want to study, which direction their life is taking, what career they want to have. The relentless push and pressure to ‘know’ can be overwhelming, so much so that we often fail to recognise that sometimes not knowing is part of the journey. Jeremiah 10:23 says: “O Lord, I know that a man’s way is not known by himself. It is not in man to lead his own steps.”

Sometimes we don’t ‘know’ our calling, we’re not even able to make definite black and white choices about our life direction, but as we keep searching, asking God and looking, we wend a pathway following the steps that God lays out before us; and sometimes, looking back through all of our life experiences, we find we have naturally grown in to the calling God intended for us all along.

If you are interested in the ‘Talk Calling’ resources, further information can be found on their website or borrow it from the Diocese of Norwich Resource Centre by contacting: Anna Walker 01603 882374.

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