Stepping Stones Workshop

From our childhood dreams to our adult aspirations, in this workshop we’ll discuss how the call of God can pull us in many different directions throughout our lives. So, let’s discuss together the meaning of vocation, the purpose of life and the importance of not knowing all the answers. 

What you’ll need

Paper for each participant and pencils.


A child’s imagination (20)

Give each participant a piece of paper. Ask them to fold it in half. Give them five minutes to draw on the first half of the paper one thing they wanted to be when they grew up.

Request they put their pencils down once they’re finished drawing.

Once everyone’s ready, put them into pairs. Encourage them to have an open chat about their drawings, why they chose to draw the job they did and why their younger selves might have been drawn to it in the first place.  

Now, ask everyone to draw on the other folded side of the paper one career path they’re interested in pursuing now. Give them another five minutes to do this. (‘I don’t know yet’ is a fine answer but do try to encourage them to portray this uncertainty on the page, i.e. with shapes).

One by one, get everyone to tell the group what two jobs they drew. Ask the group to obverse if lots of people’s job desires have changed, why that might be and if the two jobs being stated by each person, even if they’re seemingly very different, actually share crucial similarities.


Baby steps (30)

The first stone

It’s reasonably easy to tell someone what you wanted to be when you were a child.

It’s often a little bit less easy to answer that question now.

But can you answer this question: what is a vocation?

Listen to people’s responses.

Though it’s typically associated with priesthood or ministry, does a vocation have to be a religious job?

Discuss (in pairs or as a group).

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a vocation is defined as “a type of work or way of life that you believe is especially suitable for you”.

The most commonly used synonym associated with the noun vocation is ‘calling’. The vocations resource on the SCM website is titled ‘Called to be…’ for that very reason and is generally why religious roles are often considered vocations as oppose to careers.

Ask the group to think back to the job interests they chose to tell the group about earlier, both from their childhoods and now. Do you consider either of them to be a vocation? Discuss in pairs for two minutes.

Think of life like stepping stones, like the ones peaking up above a stream so that it can be crossed safely. Some parts of the stream are deeper, the water dark, but other parts are clear and cold just as a river should be. The first stone represents your first dream. That stone might be repeated further down the river but it’s where your basic ideas of vocation began. On your piece of paper, in which you’ve represented the first stone in pencil form, I want you to write down some keys words or phrases explaining why you might have felt especially drawn to the job you chose. What about the job made you want it as a child?

Take five minutes. (The answers don’t need to be profound (e.g. it looked fun, I saw it on TV)).

Once everyone is ready, ask them to do the same on the other side of the page - a few stepping stones down the stream. This time consider, what about you as a person makes you ‘suitable’ for that job now?

Discuss as a group (or pairs if preferred) what participants wrote down. (e.g. I trained at university for this type of work, I am a meticulous person, I am an artistic person etc..)

How to: live, love, laugh.

Ask the group to consider individually the job they’d like to have now. Reflecting upon what they wrote down and the sort of things they hope to achieve in this chosen job (as it stands at this point in your life at least), I ask the question again, what is vocation? (Pause for a moment).

As we said previously, often religious jobs are referred to as vocations because they are life-long commitments to the church and the communities in which a person is sent. A calling from God is, surly, by definition, life-long. Thereby, can any non-religious job be called a vocation if one day you will retire from it?

This is one reason why the idea of ‘vocation’ doesn’t need to be connected directly to a job because what you want now won’t necessarily be what you want in five years just the same as what you wanted when you were five is likely different to what you want now. And that’s ok. It’s, perhaps, the precise reason why vocation is best spoken about in the context of life itself. Perhaps, vocation is not determined by what company, organisation or denomination you work for. Perhaps, it is not dictated by your job at all but how you chose to live your life.

Arguably, based on the idea of legacy, who we are as people is dictated by how we are remembered by others. And how we are remembered is determined by how we chose to treat people and how we chose to live our lives. A vocation does not need to be a word determining our dream job, or even our purpose in life more broadly, but, rather, our ability to live kindly. Being nice to people should be something we do for our whole lives. If we’re lucky enough to have a job that does that too then that’s great. But it’s more important to have a job you love, one that makes you happy. Don’t worry if it’s got no real links to religion or ‘changing the world’. Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel distinctly vocational. Perchance your calling isn’t the career itself but the qualities it gives you.

Just go where your heart takes you cause if you’re heart is good and intentions kind they you can’t go that wrong.


No end in sight (5)

Typically not being able to see the end of your path is considered a bad thing. It apparently makes a person aimless, or even lost, on a path that stretches further with every step they take. But let’s shift the narrative for a moment. Having no clear end in sight can be scary but that shouldn’t be because there’s no hope. It should be because your life is, therefore, filled with possibility. You can go in any direction, turn back any time you want, make mistakes, fail, fail again, succeed, move somewhere new, meet new people, start new things. Having no clear end means having the story you want and living the life you know you should, on your terms and in your own time.

If you feel like you know all the answers to the questions of your future, then that’s brilliant. But there’s nothing wrong with uncertainty either. Not being sure what the future holds, what your purpose is or what vocation looks like for you doesn’t have to be a problem, it just means you’ve still got a few more stones to step.

The future is ever-changing.

To end this workshop, ask the group to discuss what advice they might give to someone who is concerned about their calling.

Once the conversation comes to a natural end, note that everything they've just said to each other can be said to themselves as well.


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Resource type: 
Workshop Outline
Resource theme: 
Faith in Action
Mental Wellbeing