“However prayer, fasting, vigil and all the other Christian practices may be, they do not constitute the aim of our Christian life. Although it is true that they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end, the true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.” (St. Seraphim of Sarov)
The the purpose of Christian life is to become “partakers in divine nature” (II Peter 1:4) or, as St. Seraphim of Sarov describes it – to acquire the Holy Spirit of God. Yet the joy beyond description is the freedom granted by God to men and women to engage in this process according to their own talents, abilities, desires and choices within their own personal context of life – rich or poor, male or female, highly educated or street-smart, developmentally challenged or physically gifted, cradle Orthodox or those who arrive at the 11th hour.
One very useful tool in shaping this process is to periodically craft a Life Vision Statement. This may be especially helpful to those called by God to serve in the ordained ministry. It is highly recommended that priests undertake this process regularly as regards the life of the parish – how do they envision the future of their parish in light of the larger mission of the Church?
For personal Life Vision Statements, dedicated times of fasting, prayer and alms-giving may be an excellent times to write or review one’s Life Vision Statement.
While undertaking the exercise, periodically think about your answers in light of these questions: “Is this what God would want for my life?” “Is this consistent with the God-given purpose of life – to acquire the Holy Spirit?”
Here are ten questions to initiate the process:
1) How do I want to be seen in ten years?
2) What do I want to be known for in ten years?
3) What do I want my family to be like?
4) What will make my heart sing (from a career perspective)?
5) Who in my life will tell me the truth about myself?
6) What new knowledge or skills would I want to have acquired and internalized?
7) What trends, habits or behaviors would I hope to have changed?
8) What would I want my primary purpose in life to be in 10 years?
9) In addition to my family, what key mutually supporting relationships would exist?
10) What would “success” look like?