Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life

(Paperback - Nov 2004)
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An action-plan for self-fulfillment that helps people find their true calling in life

This practical and inspirational guide helps Christian men and women of all ages identify and use their God-given gifts to find purpose, direction, and joy in their life and work. Based on their years of counseling and experience, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck offer action-oriented tools and a proven methodology to help readers develop the decision-making skills they need to discover and live the life that God intended, maximizing the synergies between ministry, work, and spiritual gifts.

Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck (Pasadena, CA) are nationally recognized experts in career counseling, work satisfaction, and productivity. Their Web site,, is the most visited Christian career site on the Internet.


  • SKU: 9780787968953
  • SKU10: 0787968951
  • Title: Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life
  • Qty Remaining Online: 4
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass
  • Date Published: Nov 2004
  • Pages: 277
  • Illustrated: Yes
  • Weight lbs: 1.10
  • Dimensions: 9.10" L x 7.00" W x 0.70" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Illustrated, Bibliography
  • Subject: Christian Ministry - Discipleship

Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One


We're all pilgrims on the same journey-but some pilgrims have a better map. NELSON DEMILLE

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 Chapter 10.

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 your results.)

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 categories.

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 the patterns.

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.



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