Discovering Your Purpose

My post on October 6 develops and supports the idea that God has assigned to each one of us a unique purpose. This purpose does not merely consist of our general obligation to be a godly person, as reflected in manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit in our interaction with other people. Though it does encompass that, it calls us to a specific ministry, and within the context of that ministry the fulfillment of a specific assignment.

This “ministry” may not consist of a ministry in the vocational sense, that is, work for which one gets paid. In fact, this is not the case for most Christians. Nonetheless, our assignment from God constitutes a job in the fullest sense of the word. God has placed us in this world for its accomplishment, designed our personalities and provided us with natural and spiritual gifts with that purpose in mind, placed us historically and geographically for its achievement, and provided us with the resources needed for its fulfillment. It should comprise the focal point of our existence and the objective toward which we manage our resources. It should be the primary means of our being a blessing to others and for finding fulfillment for ourselves.

Accomplishing God’s purpose constitutes the measure of success in life and seems to be the focal point of the judgment described in 1Cor. 3:13-15.

(E)ach one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This reality makes its discovery of utmost importance. How, then, do we go about identifying it? Though at one level the means of discovering God’s assignment is as personal and unique as the job itself. Nonetheless, let me suggest three stages that may be helpful.

The first stage is involvement.

You may recall that your Seventh Grade English composition teacher told you never to use the word involvement because it was so broad that it said little. However, that makes it perfect for our use here. In seeking to identify one’s purpose it is helpful initially to engage in a wide variety of ministries since people are often surprised by the area in which God uses them and calls them to serve. Though it is unwise to sign up for a ministry that one is absolutely sure is not a fit, often even unlikely ministries may result in the person discovering some capability he previously was not aware that he possessed.

Involvement is essential. Just thinking, praying, and seeking counsel about God’s purpose for you is not enough. Those approaches are important but without involvement we don’t have much to think, pray, and counsel about. It is as we actually glean experience that we have something to process.

The second stage is assessment.

You can count on the fact that God’s purpose will be in an area in which you are gifted and effective. As you assess your involvement in stage one above the general area in which your purpose resides will begin the surface. That may fall in line with some spiritual gift such as teaching or administration. You will probably discover that some area seems to be a good fit for your natural and spiritual gifts, especially as you see encouraging results in that area. For example, if you have the gift of administration you might see some area in the church in chaos, volunteered to organize it, and in the short time see it take shape and become functional. You may find great reward in seeing organization emerged from the chaos.

The third stage is refinement

The more specifically we define our purpose, the more exciting and energizing it becomes. As a person discovers the general area of God’s calling and begins working in it, a more specific area of ministry tends to emerge. For example, the person might move from general administration to administering the church missions program. This refining of your purpose is often related to some need that you perceive that is compatible with your gifts.

As you begin to engage in that more specific area you have a sense that you are home, that this is your territory, the purpose for which God has created you. My own experience reveals that there are aspects of my calling in which I feel very much at home, this is usually the focal point. However, there are subsidiary aspects of God’s purpose for me that are challenging and stretching, activities at which I don’t feel at home, skills I need to work at and develop. Perhaps that will be your experience also.

I find that as people go through the three stages listed above it becomes a matter not so much of their discovering God’s purpose as God’s purpose discovering them. The process seems to carry God’s people along to His place of ministry. I trust that you will find this helpful in finding yours.

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