A teenager recently reached out to me, expressing an interest in pursuing a career in the pro-life movement and seeking advice about next steps. What's below is the guidance I gave her, which I'm posting to help others who are discerning working in the pro-life movement (or discerning other major life decisions):
Take some time to reflect. Recall Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God." As you focus on being still, focus also on being quiet, remembering Elijah: In 1 Kings 19 God wasn’t in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Rather, He was in a whisper. Elijah heard God’s command in the silence.
And then, in the stillness and the silence ask God what His marvelous and wonderful plan is for unrepeatable and irreplaceable you! Journal your reflections and be sure to go back and read these stirrings in your heart to see how and if they continue to resonate as time passes.
Years ago one of my friends shared the following quote with me (by Richard N. Bolles from “What Color is Your Parachute?”) and I think it will be helpful for you as you discern:
"Your third mission here on Earth is one which is uniquely yours, and that is:
a) to exercise that talent which you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift which you most delight to use,
b) in those place(s) or setting(s) which God has caused to appeal to you the most,
c) and for those purposes which God most needs to have done in the world."
What I love about this quote is it's about blending each person's unique skill set, talents, and passion with the world's present-day needs. Do you have a mind for science and could you be a medical professional, statistician, or researcher? Do you have a mind for logic and philosophy and would you thrive as an ethicist, teacher, or public speaker? Do you have a counselor's heart and would you be well suited to be a psychologist or social worker, walking with the wounded? These are just a few examples of ways one's abilities and interests can align to help build Christ's kingdom here on earth.
Once you've prayed, it's time to act, to take some first steps and see how the Spirit leads. Apply for a program. Submit a job application. Start volunteering. In short, take action.
After I was convicted by my mentor Scott Klusendorf to consider full-time pro-life work as a career (thanks, in part, to his striking statement that "There are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are working full-time to save them"), Scott trained me on how to fundraise for pro-life work. After that formation when myself and a team of young Canadians were ready to implement what we were taught, my Dad gave me this fitting quote by Goethe:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Start taking some steps and see what happens. Think about driving a car at night: the headlights and road lights provide sufficient illumination for the driver to know how to steer the wheel in the moment, but not sufficient light to let you know what's far ahead--you have to keep driving to find that out. So start driving and see where the lights lead, and whether you need a change in direction, which brings me to my next point.
Ask yourself, "What unsolicited feedback am I getting as I move forward? Are various people approaching me and confirming the path I'm on? Am I receiving messages of encouragement that seem to validate the suitability of this path for me?"
What about solicited feedback? Ask those closest to you, who know you best, about the direction you're on. Confide in a spiritual director/accountability person/mentor and seek their outside, objective opinion.
And what is your own gut saying?
As you pray, act, and seek counsel, consider whether doors are opening or closing, whether you're forcing things or whether they seem to unfold like a flower.
If you seek the will of God, stay in the present moment, and do the next right thing, you will do well. May you thrive, and help others around you do the same!