Preparing for One’s Calling
In a recent professional development meeting, our staff read, narrated, and discussed excerpts from Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves, the fourth volume of her educational philosophy.
Her focus in this part of the book is on vocation and how it gives meaning to one’s work and life. Here are a few quotes from pages 204-210 that were particularly memorable.
“...by and by, wonder begins to stir in a boy's head as to what particular bit of the world's work he will be called to.”
What a reminder of the quiet work that the Holy Spirit is doing in each child’s life! We are often all-too focused on seeing our children reach certain benchmarks in behavior and academic achievement that give us a sense of accomplishment, that our own work is bearing fruit. But, there is undoubtedly so much more going on than what we can see. At some point, a child wonders what he or she will be doing as an adult. Much of that is informed (better or worse) by the culture around him or her. Perhaps the most important aspect of cultivation that we can do here is to simply plant the seed of an idea that each person is called to do good work.
And, if we can also avoid being too much with him at an early age to give guidance on what that particular good work he or she should pursue, we can give more scope to the Holy Spirit in naturally guiding the child through the ideas, studies, and relationships encountered at home, church, school, and life.
Again, from Charlotte, we hear how there is goodness in being wanted in the work that we get to do:
“It is good and pleasant to think that the work, whatever it is, will be really his, and will also be world-work upon some task that is wanted.”
As adults, each of us wants our work to be valuable to someone else. We certainly spend enough time in our careers. What opportunities are lost if we believe that there is no meaning in a job beyond the money and status it gives?
This is another idea to give to a child as a gift. The idea that the work that one is called to, what one discerns God is providing for, is work that is wanted by others, even if that isn’t readily apparent. That is an antidote for much of the apathy, burnout, and despondency that adults often feel about their work. Perhaps there is no such work prone to those emotions than parenting! And as our children may be parents themselves someday, now is the day to help prepare them for that work of a lifetime.
The good work of being a parent, a spouse, a church member, an employee/employer, a citizen–all of that is definitely needed by our country and the world.
Later in Ourselves, Charlotte notes some of the practical steps that a child must take to be ready for the good work of adulthood.
“Boys and girls who would be ready for their chances in life must have well-trained, active bodies; alert, intelligent, and well-informed minds; and generous hearts, ready to dare and do all for any who may need their help.”
This speaks volumes about the reasons for our ample ‘feast of learning’ that a school like RMCA offers its students (and adults). Education is so much more than mere academic preparation. It is a cultivation of the entire person.
As such, it is the
instruction of conscience,
the engagement of relationships,
and the cultivation of character
that are at the heart of education for us at RMCA.
Boys and girls here have the opportunity to develop many capacities. Much of that will happen outside the class and campus; we often only begin these studies at school. Much of their growth before they leave RMCA will be based on the continuing formative relationship with a child’s family and church. That is why our partnerships with parents are so key. We cannot do the most important parts of a child’s education without parents’ purposeful engagement.
I’ll close my comments with this gem of a quote from Charlotte:
“There is nothing in the wide world so precious, so necessary for the world's uses, as a boy or girl prepared on these lines for the calling, that may come…”
Wow. This is truly a “pearl of great price” for which one should metaphorically sell anything in order to gain this “one needful thing.”
Our families, our school, our churches, our nation, and our world needs boys and girls who are being prepared to be authentic adults. More now than ever, we need our children to be the kind of people who two generations from now will be counting on for guidance. That is the work of today. Each of us reading this, in our own faults and personal baggage, have the privilege of helping a child–or perhaps many–grow toward a goal of maturity.
That does not mean that we are making their life easy. It does mean that we are preparing them for a vocation, a calling, a life that is full of purpose. Again, it is the antidote for forgetfulness and despair. It is the way of building one’s house on the Rock, an identity based on one’s status as a child of God.
It is what our children need. It is what each of us adults need.