by James Winderlich

Throughout our lives, God places us in many different relationships and roles. They are never just one thing. In some cases, they are not one thing forever.

Identifying and valuing our various life settings requires discernment. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognise them. At other times it can be difficult to appreciate them. We can even be tempted to believe that we deserve better, but God places us exactly where he wants us to be. Discernment leads us towards seeing, valuing and enacting our God-given roles.

Our roles can include being a follower of Jesus and a member of a Christian community, being someone’s daughter, son, or parent. It can include being a marriage partner, or an unmarried person. It can include being employed, or unemployed. Our life settings are where God places us to bear witness to him and to lovingly serve our neighbours. Vocations are what we do in those settings to witness and care. All of our roles and vocations have purpose irrespective of the status people give them. They are gifts from God.

As followers of Jesus one role is common to all of us. Living in faith and by faith is our shared life setting. That is why being part of a worshipping Christian community is so important.

Discerning the role that God calls us to begins with God’s word. As we read the scriptures, the Holy Spirit opens us up to recognise and appreciate where God places us and what God asks of us.

Role discernment also involves our lives together in Christian communities where our sense of internal calling is challenged and refined by Christian sisters and brothers. It is in community that we hear God’s word together, and are then able to help each other recognise and value our various callings.

Discernment also includes prayer. When we pray, we ask God for guidance, to provide what we need to witness and serve, and to thank God for the gift of our various life settings.

While Australian Lutheran College (ALC) focuses on the formation of pastors, teachers and church workers, we also support our students to give attention to their full range of callings. ALC also offers a learning program of intentional discernment called Discover. Discover helps people to recognise where God places them, and where God might be calling them to be.

Pastor James Winderlich is Australian Lutheran College Principal.

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