Years ago when I was in high school, all students were given a standardized test that was supposed to determine their emotional and intellectual potential for certain careers. As a teen-age girl interested in art and literature, I was surprised to find out that according to the test results I was best equipped to be a firefighter or a law-enforcement officer. I scored as having mediocre to low potential for teaching, the field I hoped to enter. But I wasn't discouraged. Neither was my friend (who aimed to take up engineering) discouraged by the test's suggestion that his highest potential was in nursing or counseling!
While in some cases conclusions drawn from test results may be helpful, they may also fall far short of the kind of guidance we really need.
Is there a truer and more reliable way to discover individual potential and how to develop it?
There certainly is. There is a spiritual approach, anchored in an understanding of God. The Bible gives us a clear view of God's nature as Love, as Spirit, as infinite, supreme good. The Scriptures also help us understand that God is Mind, the source of all true intelligence and wisdom. Using this name for God, Mary Baker Eddy n1 writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''Mind alone possesses all faculties, perception, and comprehension.'' n2 And in another place she says: ''Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind? We must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being.'' n3
n1 Mrs. Eddy of Christian Science.
n2 Science and Health, p. 488.
n3 Ibid., p. 264.
God's guidance is real and tangible, and we will increasingly feel this guidance as we turn to it. This involves turning away from limiting beliefs - from the belief, for example, that intelligence and ability are an accident of birth, bestowed through biological inheritance; or that development depends on a material brain; or that educational opportunities are limited.
Understanding God, Mind, to be our loving Parent and ourselves to be His unlimited spiritual offspring, we'll recognize that every individual has actually inherited a full measure of intelligence. We'll realize that this intelligence is not in matter but in tangible spiritual ideas, which are purposeful and clear. We'll see that each individual's progress cannot truly be thwarted, because progress is a fact of divine law. As we trust in God and live in harmony with His law of good, we'll be guided into a productive role, and one in which we find satisfaction - no matter how uncertain the circumstances.
Along this line, it's an inspiration to review the Bible story of Joseph, who seemed to have many disadvantages in finding a happy and productive future. His brothers' hate and jealousy caused him to be sold into slavery in a foreign country. Then lies told about him resulted in his unjust imprisonment. Not exactly what you'd call a promising start! Yet Joseph took full advantage of what he did have - a knowledge of the one God and a deep love for and trust in Him. No one could deprive Joseph of these. Consequently, every obstacle was turned into a progressive step. Eventually he fulfilled the role of second-in-command in the country where he had formerly been a slave. The love and forgiveness and spiritual insight he expressed enabled him to save thousands from famine - his own brothers among them. n4 A highly unlikely role? His spiritual growth had prepared him for it. He fulfilled his potential through God's grace, not through merely personal ambition.
n4 See Genesis, Chapters 37-45.
Patiently and steadfastly demonstrating God's love and intelligence, we can trust that we will be guided into what best suits our developing talents. We won't become discouraged or confused if we realize that there are no dead ends for God's children! Each one's individual place throughout eternity is established by God, and no one else can take it.
We each have a special God-directed mission. Looking to infinite Mind, the loving creator of all, we'll see that our potential to fulfill our mission is infinite! DAILY BIBLE VERSE Ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally. James 1:5