In 2018 the Fellows have been diving deeper into the value of self-awareness amidst a season of volatility. Quite literally every climate has left its mark this winter in Nashville. As we grapple to stay in touch with our identity, I wanted to discuss a few memorable progressions.

Navigating the complexities of 21st century vocational callings is challenging. Loads of information and opportunities complicate modern culture and the very nature of self-discovery. With more options to make a living than ever before, it’s difficult to see young adults lost and unsatisfied. Not to mention that in demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004. You see companies like google tapping every industry they can to curb risk ramifications of technology and capitalism. Any one of google's bread and butters won’t exist in 5 years and we’re preparing for jobs that don’t even exist yet. All to say, vocational acumen was hard to discern for most of the Fellows.

Bill and Suz are consultants who joined us on our vocations retreat to help us navigate the daunting question of personal vocation. We were reminded of the beauty in our gifts. Not given to us for us, but first to God’s glory, and then to bless others. The weekend equipped us with tools to understand core competencies and shortcomings. Conversations encouraged honesty within ourselves, owning our uniqueness, and how to translate competencies to serve God and his kingdom best. My ability to think on a long-term time frame was one of the more interesting affirmations of the weekend. Commercial real estate development is a long-term game with significant leg work on the front end. I enjoy that behind the scenes stake in something bigger to come down the road. All in all, the weekend touched and affirmed many vocational competencies that I look forward to developing throughout my career.

Consumerism is also worth looking into, especially as a millennial. We’re constantly pulled at the core to stay up to date (socially, politically, and vocationally) and learn new skills. This hunger keeps us motivated and always busy. A large part of my job is following real estate and related industries to best plan and account for the future. The shear wealth of information to study is fascinating but unending. Modern work culture leaves little to no time for self-evaluation and reflection when we’re spending 99% of our time and efforts in places other than our own. For a long time, I was stuck and found my identity within my anxiety. I figured it must be just how I was supposed to be, rationalizing that it could be worse, and finally that nothing I could do would change it. I have grown a lot through being intentional with self-care amidst hectic circumstances this year. Mindfulness has been a pivotal tool for me and a few other Fellows in our group. It reconnects one to their God given core, not by eliminating thoughts or feelings, but instead through mature discernment.

Some of our recent studies have included Theology of The Human Body by Christopher West. I’ll mention a few interesting questions we wrestled with as a group. What is the meaning of life? Self-sacrifice, to die to ourselves, to live how God designed us for his purposes and ultimately others. Why did God create us male and female? It’s to show us the completion of God - and to experience love on earth how the trinity is in Heaven. The circulating metaphor encompasses our need for Christ, community, and church. Why is there evil in the world and how do we overcome it? Evil exists because of Adam’s original sin; we now live in a fallen world. We overcome it by knowing God. Our bodies are meant to be redeemed. The love of God is manifested in our bodies where the spiritual and physical life intersect. How do we attain true happiness on earth? Dying to Christ, laying down your life for his purposes. Whoever wants to lose his life may find it. The son of man did not come to be served but to serve. Forget yourself, focus on using your gifts to help others. What kind of joys await us in heaven? Union with Christ, freedom from judgment, selfishness, and cheap love. These conversations brought a significant amount of purpose to what we had come to know about ourselves.

I’ll leave you with a piece of scripture and a prayer that have impacted me this year:

“To each a manifestation is given to the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12: 7) All of our gifts matter. If we don't use them, everyone is at a loss including ourselves.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

- Book of Common Prayer