The State of My Union: Instructions and Grading Criteria

This assignment is designed to provide you with the opportunity (1) to pay attention to God’s work in your life, (2) to re-integrate the inner and outer aspects of your life and (3) to take concrete steps toward following your own calling (and not someone else’s). You will do this in the form of writing a State of My Union summary, much as US presidents summarize, with a “State of the Union” address, the condition of the country. This exercise serves as a way for you to bridge “where I have been,” “where I am,” and “where I am going” and thus to enable you to discover groundwork that will help you as you explore your own distinctive vocation at this particular season of life.

In this The State of My Union exercise you will summarize the following:

  • General vision (union with the Gospel) – What is the Gospel about? Why are we on earth? What does God want of us? And how does this relate to my own life?

  • Particular vision –

    • Union with reality and others
      What are my current circumstances and key relationships in my life currently? What are they like? What are the “givens” of my context in this next season of life?

    • Union with myself
      What are the values that characterize my life? What is my own particular “charism” or style of living?

    • Union with God
      What is my cutting edge? Where is God taking me? About which virtues or vices has God been addressing me? What has God been revealing to me lately? Where am I being led?

Your assignment is to reflect on these questions and to prayerfully produce a summary of “where I have been” and “where I am” with a view to “where I am going.” It is best if you do this in dialogue with a few key people.

  • NOTE: Your The State of My Union exercise should not simply be a brief story of your own life. Neither should it be simply a theological treatise on the Christian life. This exercise is meant to integrate head and heart, inner depths and external realities. Consequently, in this assignment I expect to see theological (historical, biblical…) reflection, personal evaluation and concrete links between the two.

Depending on your own situation, one or another of these categories will need more attention than another. Just do what needs to be done.

I usually ask students to write something about 800 words. But see what you need.

I will evaluate it according to the following criteria:

    • Sincere, complete and engaged performance

      • Is the submission complete, an appropriate word count?

      • Do I see evidence of informed and conscientious preparation by the student?

        • Do I see any signs that the student was familiar with the material presented in talks given during the conference and other resources that are valuable to your life?

        • Are all the appropriate elements (General Vision, circumstances, values, cutting edge)?

      • Do I see evidence of sincere engagement in this assignment or does it rather appear that the assignment has been completed in a cursory manner? Does this assignment show signs of sincere pursuit of God?

    • Integrative Reflection –

      • Does it draw from the range of experiences, resources, relationships and so on that should inform your state of union?

      • Is there any concrete application (wisdom) relevant to looking forward to the next appropriate step?

For further information on “The State of My Union” exercise, watch:

(Here I call it “preliminary work” to writing A Rule of Life)

If you dare to turn it in, you can do so – and receive my evaluation – at [email protected]

Evan B. Howard (