Kenneth L. Samuel
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." - Jeremiah 1:5
Every now and then someone will ask me: "How do you know that you've been called to be a minister of the gospel?"
Sometimes I answer in the words of Howard Thurman: "I learned to follow the grain in my own wood."
Discerning the calling in your life has a lot to do with getting to know yourself. For me, the calling of God has always echoed in the chambers of my consciousness.
Listening to your own inner voice can at times be more daunting than listening to the voices of others. Searching for all the answers outside of ourselves always gives us an excuse to postpone the hard work of introspection and self-evaluation.
A clinical psychologist once told me that her greatest aim is help people to listen to and pay attention to themselves. She says that when a person becomes cognizant of himself and his self-conflictedness, he is well on the road to psychological health.
Could it be that our greatest discoveries are really the discoveries we make about ourselves? Could it be that that the greatest challenges we face are actually the challenges that are innate to who we are? Could it be that the discernment of our life calling is really an invitation to explore the deeper meanings of our own lives?
When I was a young seminarian, I went to hear a lecture by Howard Thurman. I wanted him to sign my book ('Jesus of the Disinherited'), but more importantly, I wanted him to give me some spiritual guidance. He looked at me and wrote these words in my book: "You know the path. Walk in it."
Being told what I already knew was not really what I was looking for, but it did make me begin to take more seriously and to look more closely at the man in my mirror.
Dear God, it is amazing how our journeys in life keep leading us right back to ourselves . . . right back to you. Help us to follow your leading in us. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.