Chapter OneMAPPING YOUR DESIGN
We're all pilgrims on the same journey-but some pilgrims have a better map.
Experienced explorers traveling in new territory use both a compass
and a map. The compass principles-keeping your primary calling
primary, using your gifts to meet needs, and being a proactive steward
of your gifts-direct you in your journey of finding God's purposes
for your life. In this chapter you will create your own map to use in
the search for your vocational calling.
A map enables you to determine where you are, the location and
distance of your destination, and the best route for getting there. It helps
you to anticipate what you might encounter on the trip. An accurate
map also gives you a sense of confidence when making decisions during
the journey. For the journey of living your calling, you need a detailed
map of your God-given design that identifies the gifts you have
to invest in the world. Your map helps you position yourself for maximum
impact with your life.
Creating Your "Mental Map"
Cartography is the art and science of map making. Each of us is the cartographer
of a "mental map" of how we see our design and ourselves.
Your mental map includes your beliefs about what you can and can't do,
what interests you and what doesn't, what is and isn't important to you,
and what your personality is or isn't like.
Your mental map might lack sufficient detail to be helpful or even
contain erroneous information that can hinder you in discovering your
vocational calling. The outcome of your search for your vocational calling
depends greatly on the accuracy of your mental map.
"I like helping people" was the centerpiece of Sandra's mental map
of her design. She had bounced from one job to another over the years,
trying to find her place in the world of work. She came to realize that
she needed a more specific map of her design, since almost any job
would allow her to help others in one way or another.
Determining the kinds of people she most wanted to help, the settings
that would fit her best, and most important, how she wanted to
help people, enabled Sandra to create a much more useful map for herself.
The more precise and customized your map, the more beneficial it
will be to you in your journey.
Many of us also have mental maps with at least some degree of
inaccuracy. Tom believed he was a poor public speaker. His interest in
becoming a sales trainer, however, required that he confront his long-held
belief. During a counseling session, he recognized that his negative
image of his speaking ability was based on one traumatic incident that
happened in high school, more than fifteen years earlier.
Tom discovered that with additional training and experience he
not only had the potential of being a very good speaker but also enjoyed
it. By correcting his mental map so that it more accurately reflected his
skills and interests, he was able to recognize and pursue work roles that
fit his design.
Life Experiences Shape Our Mental Maps
Our life experiences shape and color our mental maps. During our
growing-up years we are exposed to a variety of skills and interest areas
through our family, school experiences, recreational activities, work settings,
friends, books, and the media. From our own personal collection
of experiences, we tend to develop beliefs about what we can and can't
do, and things that interest us and things that don't.
Direct experience is important in creating our mental maps. We
may, however, make inaccurate determinations about our skills, abilities,
and interests because of limited exposure, negative experiences, inadequate
training, or our own fears and insecurities. The problem with
depending solely on our life experiences to create a map of our gifts,
abilities, and interests is that it may be incomplete, as it is entirely dependent
upon the opportunities and situations we have encountered.
Voices That Alter Our Maps
Feedback from others about our ability and potential is another powerful
force that shapes our mental map. For better or for worse, parents
have a tremendous influence on their children's self-image. Many adults
view themselves in the light of their parents' negative comments from
years before: "You'll never make money doing that. Why don't you do
something practical?" or "You'll never be good enough to succeed at
that. When are you going to grow up and let go of your silly dreams?"
Most of us have a vocal "committee" assembled in our heads, made
up of influential people from our past and present. Committee members
can be our parents, family members, teachers, pastors and other
significant adults, peers in school, bosses, coworkers, and others who
have given us messages about ourselves and our potential over the years.
The messages we hear from supportive committee members can encourage
us to press ahead, assuring us that there are great possibilities
for our lives. Often, however, there are also some voices whispering
things that discourage us and cause us to doubt that we will ever find
and fulfill our purpose in life. Our mental maps may therefore reflect
the opinions of our committee, but not the reality of who we are.
Making Your Map Accurate
Developing a thorough understanding of your design requires using a
variety of assessment tools. Your design is too complex to be assessed
by only one test, inventory, or exercise, which is why you complete a variety
of self-assessment exercises in this book. The assessments help you
develop increased awareness of how the dimensions of your design fit
together. You also gain a deeper understanding of how your intrinsic
God-given design can be used in the world.
A good assessment process lays the foundation for determining which
types of careers or volunteer options most likely fit you best. No assessment,
however, can tell you which specific job you should do. Over the
years, we have had many people say something like, "I took that test in
high school and it told me I should be a bus driver." Or a farmer. Or a
teacher. Comments of that sort reflect either a misunderstanding of
the assessment or poor interpretation on the part of the person explaining
the results. No good career assessment narrows the field to just one
job title, or even a few.
Many people would like to find the magic test that tells them which
type of work fits them best. No such test exists, however. The world of
work is much too large and human beings are too complex for this to be
possible. Thousands of different types of jobs exist already, and new jobs
are created continually. No test can possibly catalogue every job nor assess
all of the relevant factors for matching an individual with a job.
Used appropriately, however, good assessments do help illuminate the
important parts of your design and expedite the process of identifying the
types of jobs or volunteer options that fit you best. Assessments can assist
you in developing an accurate mental map of your God-given design.
They can help you fill in formerly blank areas, clear up confusing or conflicting
information, and bring previously unclear areas into focus.
Creating Your Life Calling Map
Your Life Calling Map and a completed sample Life Calling Map are
found at the end of this chapter on the pages with the shaded borders.
The map has four parts: Mission Statements, Dimensions of My Design,
Priority Goals, and Action Plan. In this chapter, you will complete the second
part of the map, Dimensions of My Design. After finishing the assessment
exercises in this chapter (transferable skills, core work values,
preferred roles, personality type, compelling interests, and spiritual gifts),
you will enter your results in your map, creating a vital record of key dimensions
of your God-given design.
The Dimensions of My Design is the heart of your map. You will be
using it in a variety of ways to help you discover exciting career and
volunteer options and discern which direction to go in your life. You will
complete the other three parts of your map (Mission Statements, Priority
Goals, and Action Plan), adding to the usefulness of your map, in
Your completed map will serve as a tangible record of your understanding
of your God-given design and be a foundation for discovering
your calling. Your map is a helpful tool to use as you go through this
book. Here are how others have benefited from their Life Calling Maps:
My Life Calling Map has shown me how I can use my skills, interests,
values, and abilities in a way that will serve God best. Without
this help I would have wasted many years going in the wrong direction,
never trying or knowing what God had put in my heart to do.
It helped me understand the ways God has gifted me (vocationally,
spiritually, personally) and what he is calling me to do with my gifts.
Over the years, I've come back to my map many times. It has enabled
me to make midcourse corrections and decisions about job
changes with confidence.
My Life Calling Map has helped me understand and accept my
God-given mission in life. It's given me an opportunity to earnestly
assess myself, learn who I am, acknowledge my capabilities, and feel
free to move without fear into a more rewarding future.
As you complete the self-assessment exercises in this chapter, you will
be drawing from, reorganizing, adding to, and perhaps challenging your
current mental map of how you see your design. Developing an accurate
map of your design helps you see the real you-the person God created
you to be-and to manage your gifts and abilities intelligently.
Transferable skills are abilities that can transfer, or be taken, from one
setting and be used in another. For example, Jill took the teaching and
organizing skills she had developed as an elementary school teacher into
the business world to her new job as a corporate trainer. John took the
cooking skills he had honed at home and put them to use preparing
meals once a week in a shelter for the homeless. Transferable skills
can be gained on the job as well as in your hobbies, leisure pursuits, responsibilities
at home, and volunteer activities.
With this inventory, you identify skills you have developed and select
the skills you particularly enjoy using. You also identify skills you
would like to develop; these may be skills you will want to use in a significant
way in the future.
Transferable Skills Inventory
Directions, Part One
1. Read through the entire list of skills and place a check in the ITLITL column
next to each skill in which you are competent. (Competent means
that you have at least average ability in the skill.) You might have developed
competency in the skills in any context; you do not need to
have used them in a paid work setting.
2. Read through the list of skills again, this time placing a check in the E
column next to each skill that you enjoy using (or think you would enjoy
using, if you currently have little or no experience using the skill).
3. Review the skills you have marked as ones you enjoy using. Circle the
names of the skills that you most enjoy using (or think you would enjoy
using) in a work or volunteer ministry/service context. (We recommend
choosing about eight to fifteen skills.)
After you have completed these steps, go on to Part Two of the directions,
located after the list of transferable skills.
Directions, Part Two
1. Notice the blank numbered row above each of the six sets of skills. In
each numbered row, write in the "skill cluster category" name and its
abbreviation. In the first blank row, for example, write Physical (P). (The
skill cluster category names were omitted from the inventory so that you
would not be influenced by them as you completed the assessment.)
1. Physical (P)
2. Analytical (AN)
3. Creative (CR)
4. Helping (H)
5. Managing/Persuading (M/P)
6. Detail/Organizing (D/O)
2. Review the skills you have circled. Then, in the transferable skills section
of your Life Calling Map: Dimensions of My Design (which is
located at the end of this chapter), write the following in prioritized
order (most enjoyed, second most enjoyed, and so forth).
The skills you would most enjoy using in a work setting
The skills you would most enjoy using in a volunteer ministry/service setting
The skills you would like to explore or develop further
(An example is provided in the completed sample Life Calling Map,
located just before the Life Calling Map on which you will record
3. Observe which skill cluster categories (physical, analytical, and so on)
in the transferable skills inventory contain the most circled skills. In
the skill cluster categories section of your Life Calling Map, record
The two or three skill cluster categories that best represent the skills you
would enjoy using in a work setting
The two or three skill cluster categories that best represent the skills you
would enjoy using in a volunteer ministry/service setting
The skill clusters categories table on the next page gives information
about typical career and volunteer interests for each of the skill cluster
Understanding Your Results
Most people find they have some clear patterns emerge after completing
the transferable skills inventory and reviewing the skill cluster categories.
Here is some additional information to help you analyze your
results so you can more fully understand the meaning and usefulness of
Your Most Enjoyed Skills. On your Life Calling Map you listed the
skills you would most enjoy using within work and volunteer activities.
Using skills that energize you greatly increases your sense of satisfaction
and enjoyment within your career and volunteer pursuits.
You may have listed some transferable skills in which you have little
or no ability currently but that you believe you would enjoy using at some
future time. These are skills that potentially can be used in a longer-range
career transition (once you have had a chance to become competent in
them) or that can be tried out and developed in a hobby, leisure pursuit,
or ministry setting. Church and other volunteer settings are great
places to try out and develop new skills.
Your Most Marketable Skills. A marketable skill is one that you can perform
competently and that is attractive to a potential employer. Obviously,
your job target will dictate which of your skills are most marketable.