The Relationship of the Perception of Divine Calling with Identity Development and Purpose in Christian Adolescents
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This dissertation explored the possibility of quantifying and measuring the experience of divine calling to develop and utilize a biblically based instrument, the Vectors of Calling Survey (VCS), with older Christian adolescents to discover the extent of their encounter with God's call. The measure was also used to explore the relationship between calling, identity development, and purpose in life. Divine calling was identified as a life-shaping experience for Christian adolescents, available to all believers, and applicable to all of life. The need for divine calling was juxtaposed to critical issues in post-modern adolescent development, such as ambiguity, adult abandonment, excessive choices, and superficial spirituality. The effect of calling was compared to the psychological concepts of identity, positive development, purpose, and transcendence. A conceptualization of calling was developed from a review of the biblical, historical and practical dimensions of divine calling. The study endorsed a perspective of calling as the intersection of vectors, including listening to God, discovering self, and embracing the world's needs. The development of the VCS included field testing, item analyses, revisions, and validation. The research procedures of the study were explained, including the administration of the VCS with the Ego Process Identity Questionnaire and the Purpose in Life Test to freshman students at three Christian universities. An analysis of findings provided details about the sample and the statistical results. Data from the VCS indicated a sense of divine calling was largely present in the research sample, likely to be expressed by beliefs more than behaviors, and positively associated with identity achievement and purpose in life. A surprise was the significant correlation between foreclosure and a sense of calling. Suggestions for improvements of the research design were offered. Among the conclusions derived from the study were these: (1) a strong sense of calling strengthens identity; (2) calling has broader application than pre-defined ministry roles; and (3) a sense of divine calling can be measured. Implications included the need to advocate calling and to study calling from a developmental perspective. Suggestions for further study included the effects of calling and the facilitation of personal receptiveness to calling.