Vocation and identity in Christ

Published on: 1 May 2018

Jennie Cummings-Knight examines the different calls on our life that can shape our identity.

As I write this in early March, we are being buffeted between “The Beast from the East” and “Storm Emma”, in much the same way as we are buffeted by the many voices in our lives, all clamouring for our attention, and creating distractions. For example, before I started to write, I had to clear some urgent emails calling for a response.

As a therapist, I work with clients who are often confused about what they want to do, and often find it to be in conflict with what they feel they “should do”. I help clients to listen to their inner voices and learn to discern the “toxic” from the “nurturing”.

The different roles (as parent/partner, or employer/employee, for example) that we assume can take over everyday life to the extent that we lose a real sense of our individuality. Identifying our natural skills and talents leads to greater understanding about a personal sense of identity and also a personal vocation.

Speaking personally, my own sense of identity in Christ has been growing ever since I first heard about our Father God, the Creator, as a small child. Brought up in an evangelical household, I learned at an early age that God had a purpose for my life and that I needed to discover what it was. This gave me a sense of being loved and needed, even though it took me a long time to discover what I even wanted to do, let alone to wrestle with how my needs could fit into God’s purpose.

The prophet Jeremiah was told (Jeremiah 1:4) “before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world”. Jeremiah was none too keen on the idea, but I find it reassuring to reflect on God having a purpose for him before he was even visible to his parents.

The first part of my adult vocation came naturally as a wife and mother, but I was catapulted into a new phase when our family circumstances changed. Living in South Yorkshire, surrounded by drug and alcohol problems visible on the streets near our house, I began to volunteer at Doncaster Alcohol Services. Approximately 16 years later, still counselling and teaching, I feel that my calling is to be a “borderlands” person, very much aware of both the spiritual realm and the practical aspects of living as flawed human beings in the world.

We are also called to use what we already have “in our hands” rather than to try to be impressive or unusual. It was the everyday staff (used for ordinary shepherding duties) that Moses carried, that was transformed by God into a powerful sign to impress Pharaoh. Ultimately this humble stick, blessed by God, was used to pave the way for the release of the captive slaves in Egypt.

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Articles in this issue...

Identity (un)known

How well do you know yourself? In the midst of experiencing a heart-breaking life situation a year ago, James Shelton realised his answer to this question was ‘not well enough’.


Talk Calling

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


Five journeys, one destination

Bishop Alan confirmed five adults, ranging in age from late twenties to early seventies, in All Saints, Chedgrave earlier this year. Two of them were also baptised. Five people, five different journeys. The Revd Alison Ball describes the journeys that they local church family have walked with them for several years.


The homecoming: a life-long journey of faith

The Venerable David Hayden describes his journey back to his roots in Oulton Broad and the faith that has formed the path.


Who do you think you are?

Sixty per cent of girls opt out of everyday activities because of how they think they look. Around half of adolescent boys are unhappy with their bodies, and young people's happiness is a its lowest since 2010[1]. Jonathan Richardson explores what shapes our sense of identity.


Living out the gospel by word and example

Archdeacon Steven explores how our faith influences the way we look at ourselves and how others view us.


Cursillo – Christian living

Biddy Collyer listens to the experience of people whose lives have been transformed through Cursillo; a useful way of exploring one's identity in Christ.


Why look anywhere else?

Will Warren takes a look at what the apostle Paul says about our identity in Christ in the book of Ephesians.


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