Resources for exploring your calling

Exploring your SHAPE

SHAPE is a really helpful tool for prayerfully thinking through what God might be calling you to. This resource is drawn from Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life and is used by CPAS on the Growing Leaders course.

Each letter stands for an aspect of who God has made you to be and the combination of these things is unique to you. Discerning how these apply to you can be a clue to what God has made you to be and do.

1.The ‘S’ stands for Spiritual gifts

God has given you spiritual gifts to enable you to serve the body of Christ and participate in the church’s mission to the world. There are various lists of spiritual gifts in the bible, which you might want to study to help you determine your spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28.

These lists represent the various ‘ministries’ that a healthy church family needs to thrive in its corporate life in its particular context. These ‘ministries’ or gifts can include:

  • Preaching
  • Teaching
  • Worship
  • Intercession
  • Reconciliation
  • Forgiveness
  • Administration
  • Evangelism
  • Discipleship 
  • Discernment
  • Organisation
  • Vision-setting
  • Hearing God
  • Leadership
  • Service
  • Hospitality
  • Encouragement
  • Faith

There may be many others. God has gifted you to participate in the flourishing of your church family in one or more of these areas. Why not ask yourself:
Which do you feel most drawn to? What do other people say you are good at? What does God say he’s gifted you in?

It is important to remember that having the spiritual gift(s) does not mean that you do this thing for the whole church, but rather than you model and use this gift to inspire everyone to grow in using it.

Once you have discerned what your spiritual gifts might be, why not have a go at using them to serve your church?

2.The ‘H’ stands for Heart’s Desire

The following questions might help you to discern your heart’s desire:

What are you passionate about or committed to? What do you long for? What would you want to be/do/achieve if you had completely free choice? What do you find yourself trying to enthuse others about? Which causes have you already been drawn to support and why?

David Runcorn’s book: Choice, Desire and the Will of God is a very interesting reflection on how our desires interact with God’s will.

Again, once you have discerned what your heart’s desire might be, pray and talk with friends about how you might further pursue this in your life.

3.The ‘A’ stands for Abilities

This relates to the things you are naturally good at. This could include your natural talents, such as: music, sport, IT, writing, creativity, design, cooking, photography or gardening. It also includes your more abstract abilities, such as: optimism, humour, reflection, memory, motivating others, thinking strategically, learning, seeing connections, being productive, competitiveness or restoring harmony. Often, we do not recognise these things as our strengths or abilities, because we do them naturally. StrengthsFinder is a really useful tool to help you work out what your natural abilities might be.

What do the people close to you recognise as your strengths? How are you using your strengths in your current role? How could you adapt your present role to further utilise your natural abilities?

4.The ‘P’ stands for Personality

This reflects the way you prefer to do things. Are you: introverted or extroverted, rational or emotional, a planner or spontaneous, focused on details or big picture, relational or task focused, getting things right or jumping in?

Myers Briggs, Enneagram, Colour Insights or CMe profiles are useful tools to help you work these out. As is talking with those who know you best.

Once you have discerned your personality preferences, how do they fit with your current role, or not?

5.The ‘E’ stands for Experiences

Having spent the time working out your unique blend of spiritual gifts, heart’s desire, abilities and personality, you need to be realistic about your past experiences and present circumstances in order to see what clues they might hold about your vocation. Where has God already placed you? What are your family circumstances? What has happened to you in the past that has significantly shaped who you are? What previous jobs have you done and/or skills have you acquired? What is your current job or situation? These may be things that have shaped us for good or bad, but they ground who we are and help us work out if a sense of call is realistic at the present time given our other commitments and responsibilities.

In working out your SHAPE, you don’t need all the answers right away. Revelation of these things continues throughout our lives – and as we grow and develop, things might change. Discerning our vocation involves plenty of time to pray, talk to trusted friends, read, reflect and most importantly, listen to God. The key question is always: What is God saying? Others can guide us and tools can be useful, but we need to own the answer to this question for ourselves.

To find out more about the SHAPE tool, visit (CPAS link)

To discuss this with someone, why not speak to your vicar or contact one of our Vocations Advisers.

Further resources for exploring your calling can be found on the CPAS website here.