Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Just a few days ago, I had a really vivid memory of writing the date, 9th September 1981 on the top of a piece of school work. It was a Wednesday and I was 16 years old and at the start of my ‘O’ Level year. Like most young people of that age I looked forward to a future that seemed pretty straightforward and, although my academic prowess hadn’t yet been tested in public exams, I was pretty confident that life would be a linear succession of events through which I would thrive personally and achieve professionally.
Mediocre exam results and a vastly less than mediocre showing as a trainee bank manager gave me a shocking indication that it wasn’t going to be as easy as that. I was a truly terrible bank clerk and my poor exam showing seemed to have limited my options. Ten years after that day in September 1981, I was in a process that would lead to my ordination as a priest and ten years after that I was a vicar in the Wiltshire countryside and in a marriage that, whilst outwardly happy enough, was already showing the cracks that would result in its destruction.
Forty years after that Wednesday morning in 1981, I’m no longer a priest and am preparing to marry Jane. I’m leading a happy and rewarding life that was totally and utterly beyond the ability of that 16 year old to foresee. Along the way there have been deep lows, profound challenges and times of dark despair, but what redeems that experience is the knowledge that not one second of it has been wasted.
Everyday really is a school-day and here are the key philosophy of my personal curriculum.
1. Love is the most powerfully dynamic force in human life inspiring kindness, compassion and creativity. Its opposite is the cancer of hatred, which provokes cruelty, callousness and makes us want to destroy and tear down all that is good.
2. Gratitude is the fuel of love. It’s vital to remember to thank the self you were when you suffered pain for paying the price of your wisdom and experience. It’s also essential to focus on what you have, rather than feel resentment for what you do not have. Gratitude is the fuel of love, resentments sucks out and exhausts that fuel leaving us unable to help ourselves or others.
3. Vocation is the little voice that whispers in the back of your mind and shapes your sense of purpose. That voice invites you into a conversation about what most matters NOW and provides the impetus for you to express that purpose in action. Hedonism, the search for immediate personal, sensual, enjoyment deafens you to the voice of your purpose.
4. Duty is the expression of love in the service of others through service to and care for yourself. With love, gratitude and a vocational purpose, duty ceases to be dull and life-sapping and becomes the oxygen on which vocation thrives and the flame that illuminates love and gratitude. Irresponsibility feels great in the moment, but destroys your ability truly to care for yourself and others, leaving you empty, exhausted and enfeebled.
Every day really is a school-day. Commit to the curriculum and you will learn, thrive and discover the way in which you, uniquely, can contribute to the great human story in your lifetime.
My vocation is to use my experience to help you uncover your vocation and fulfil your duty to it in the power of love and the joy of gratitude. To explore further, please get in touch on 07530 007163 or email me at email@example.com.