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How to help your pupils find their special function

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]


This is something that will come up in many teacher-pupil relationships. The pupil will want to find his or her special function (whatever terminology they use), and the teacher will then ideally play a role in helping that come about. As Greg pointed out in the class, this makes perfect sense, since after all, this is a course in being a miracle worker, and one’s special function is simply the form that one’s miracle-working takes. So we can view the ideal endpoint of every teacher-pupil relationship as being the pupil finding his or her particular role as a miracle worker.

1. Determine first if this is a legitimate topic to explore.

This mainly means two things. First, how strong is your pupil’s desire to find her special function? Second, how ready does she seem to be? The first is the stronger consideration, but the second one is important, too. To actually perform one’s special function requires a certain level of mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity. Without that maturity, even if you know what your function is, you won’t be able to carry it out. If it seems clear to you that she is not yet ready, the quickest route to her special function will be to strengthen her overall level of development.

2. You are helping to identify some deep desire and ability in your pupil that wants to express.

You need to imagine that there is a hidden aspect of your pupil, almost a hidden person inside of him. This hidden person is driven by pure desires and possesses some tremendous strength (or strengths). And he wants to get out, to express. You might even call it your pupil’s “soul.” There is an interesting comment in Helen’s early notebooks, where Jesus says that a Freudian slip Bill made “was an expression of a Soul gaining enough strength to request freedom from prison. It will ultimately demand it.” In other words, there is some hidden spiritual element that in rising up is first requesting to get out, and then will ultimately demand to. This is the source of your pupil’s special function. It is his “soul” that will carry out his function.

So your job is to help your pupil identify this hidden aspect, which you do by identifying those deep desires and strong abilities in him. The Special Function Questionnaire I devised can be of help in this.

3. You are helping your pupil seek guidance, looking for indications of the role that has been assigned.

We don’t design our special function; the Holy Spirit does. So in the process of helping your pupil find her special function, you need to always be thinking that the idea for it is already fully formed in the Holy Spirit’s Mind, and you and your pupil are just trying to find that already-formed idea. Therefore, you need to look for any indications you can, which means any sort of guidance from the Holy Spirit that might relate. You don’t want to be picky about how it comes, as long as it seems like it might be genuine guidance. It may come through some inner voice or intuition, or from someone else, or from dreams, or from synchronistic experiences. My most important special function guidance comes from what I call “signs,” which are occurrences in which two events spontaneously come together and share a long list of themes in common.

What you are doing is assembling a kind of jigsaw puzzle, so the more pieces you can find, the better.

The idea behind points two and three is that there are clues scattered all over the place, if you know how to look. Since this is what you came here to do, the threads of your special function are woven throughout your life, if only you know how to spot them and how to weave them together. Once you know what it is, you will see that it has been right in front of your eyes.

4. You are encouraging your pupil to move in certain directions, at least in a tentative, exploratory way.

The special function doesn’t just drop in your lap. You have to do things to allow it to unfold. And until you do certain things, go in certain directions and see what happens, you probably won’t know for sure what it is. What you need to do, then, is go in those directions in a tentative, exploratory way. In essence, you need to be like a detective and follow leads. Scare up leads, follow them, and see what happens, see where they take you. Since we are talking about your pupil finding his or her function, this is the process you need to encourage your pupil to go through.

5. You are helping your pupil work with an unfolding process that his or her life circumstances will cooperate with.

You need to assume that your pupil’s life is designed to cooperate with the process of her special function unfolding. That life is, in a sense, just waiting for this to happen, poised for the special function to take the stage. It’s almost as if all the things in her life have a consciousness of that function and are secretly prepared to jump into action and make way for it. That external life will never cooperate quite to the extent you and your pupil would like, but it will cooperate enough for the special function to happen.

The process cannot be forced. It is an unfolding rather than an instant appearing. So what you need to help your pupil do is work with that unfolding process. If she does her part, her life will do its part. You can imagine it like a series of closed doors. She needs to knock on the first door, and then wait for it to be opened, and then proceed to the next door. The doors will open for her—she can’t do it herself—but they will only do so if she knocks.

6. You are helping your pupil get past the inevitable fears

Everyone yearns for their special function until they find out what it is. Then they almost invariably have strong fears around it. In fact, if they don’t have fears, it’s probably not their special function. Those fears can stall and even abort the whole process. Therefore, your role as a teacher will involve helping your pupil past these fears, in a way that is respectful of the pupil and responsive to the relevant facts, but without reinforcing the message that this special function is simply too frightening to be viable.

7. You are helping your pupil give the needed time to it

Once they know what their function is, this is one of the key forms that their resistance takes: “Oh, I love this function. This is my dream. I just can’t manage to find any time for it.” Obviously, something is going on there. So you will probably need to help your pupil find the needed time, whether it consists of training for it or otherwise preparing, or actually doing it. Giving the time to it really represents giving oneself to it. The more your pupil gives himself to it, the more it can happen.

8. You are assuring your pupil it can work on the material level

Material considerations will sooner or later always enter in. Even if your special function never becomes your livelihood, there will still be questions like: Can I afford the time? Will people want what I have to offer? If I build it, will they come? How can I afford the expenses associated with it? Such material considerations will go into high gear if your special function actually does become your means of support. At that point, there will be a powerful temptation to think that this simply cannot work. Your role as teacher, then, will be to reassure your pupil that this can work, that it’s designed to work. Additionally, you may be called to help in more concrete ways, by suggesting ideas for how it can work, or helping your pupil through inner blocks that may be keeping it from working, or even putting your pupil in touch with people who can help it work.

Summary: Your role is that of a “special function midwife”

Your overall role is very much like that of a midwife. There is a process that wants to unfold when the conditions are ripe. Something inside the pupil wants to be born into the world, and the pupil’s life wants to make way for this birth. So from the inside and the outside, something is trying to unfold. However, the pupil has to cooperate with this process, and will often not know how to or be tempted to resist, almost like a woman in labor screaming, “I’m not having this baby!” In this case, if the pupil doesn’t work with the process, it does not happen. The whole thing shuts down. Your role is to facilitate that cooperation, to help the pupil work with what is trying to unfold.