By Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB
This article originally appeared on Fr. Hicks’ blog, Father Boniface Hicks, OSB: A Monk in the Service of the Church.
As a spiritual director, I regularly journey with people who are seeking God’s will in their lives. Young people frequently ask the question whether they are called to marriage, religious life, or priesthood. Young people who are already dating ask whether this is “the one.” Young people who are drawn to religious life ask which religious community is the right one for them. These are all important questions, but they often lose sight of the more foundational question.
When we group people into huge categories such as “priest,” or ”religious,” or “married,” we sometimes overlook the more fundamental question of our individual uniqueness and the unrepeatable way God made us. Pope Francis captured this beautifully in his exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate by using the concepts of mission: “Each saint is a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel,” (GEE 19) and message: “Every saint is a message which the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people” (GEE 21). Using the terms of mission and message, Pope Francis reiterates what Pope St. John Paul II expressed in his Theology of the Body that each person is “set into a unique, exclusive and unrepeatable relationship with God himself” (6:2).
Each person has a unique message to share with the world. Each person has a unique and unrepeatable mission to carry out. We may be called to live out this mission through either marriage or the priesthood, but the most important thing is for each one of us to develop our own unique and unrepeatable relationship with God.
One way to explore our individual uniqueness is through a human strengths assessment or through understanding one’s unique motivational blueprint. Although this seems to put us back into repeatable and general categories, the reality is that the particular combination of strengths and particular arrangement of motivational patterns elucidates the uniqueness of the individual rather than concealing it. As a spiritual director, I have the blessing of knowing individuals in a very deep, personal, and meaningful way. Time and again, however, I have gained new insights from the results that come when my directees have taken an assessment such as Strengthsfinder or MCORE. These two assessments gather and present information about human uniqueness that can be a great help in guiding individuals to paths which are most deeply fulfilling for them.
I will conclude with a podcast that I was able to record recently with one of the developers of MCORE, Joshua Miller. Joshua Miller and Luke Burgis have also written a book called Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person that would be valuable reading for anyone who is seeking to understand themselves more deeply, seeking their purpose in life, or helping others in that way.
Please tune in to our podcast episode to understand some ways that spiritual direction (and some of the material from our book Spiritual Direction: A Guide for Sharing the Father’s Love), interface with Joshua’s work on understanding our motivational blueprint. I hope that all these efforts will assist anyone who is seeking true happiness to find their purpose and help them live their mission and proclaim their message.
Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He has provided spiritual direction for many men and women, including married couples, seminarians, consecrated religious, and priests. He is the co-author, with Fr. Thomas Acklin, OSB, of Spiritual Direction: A Guide for Sharing the Father’s Love.