DISCOVERING YOUR PURPOSE AND FULFILL IT
DISCOVERING YOUR PURPOSE AND FULFILL IT
There once was a man who netted three trout from a mountain stream and carefully placed them side-by-side on a thick patch of grass. Before he removed them from the water, they were like a liquid ballet in motion. Fluid. Graceful. Vibrant. Alive. After he netted them, it was another story.
As the trout lay on the grass, they were motionless. Their eyes were fixed. They gasped for air, and they looked and acted stupid.
The man noticed they seemed unhappy, so he talked to them, hoping that his encouragement would change them. “Little fish, don’t be sad. You’ll like the grass. Just try it out for a while.” No movement. No response. No change. A few more seconds passed. The man’s neighbor walked by. “Hey, Bob! Come and check out these fish!”Bob sauntered over and the man explained that he was certain the fish could adjust. “I’m sure they could prosper here on the grass. Don’t you agree?”
“Why not?” Bob replied. So he also tried to tell the fish it would be good if they learned to like the grass. After all, he liked the grass. Why shouldn’t they? Still, the fish didn’t blink. They just lay there looking dumber by the second. Finally, a little boy approached exclaimed, “What are you doing? Put them back! They can’t be all they’ve been created to be when they are out of the water.”
Finally convinced, the man carefully placed each fish back in the stream. After splashing for a split second, all three swam away effortlessly. Again, it was like a liquid ballet. What ease! What grace! What beauty!
In that moment, the man realized that no matter how long the fish lay there they would never adjust to the grass, and would never be satisfied no matter how much he (or anyone else) told them otherwise. Even if the fish tried to convince themselves they could learn to like the grass, they never would, and they would never prosper. In fact, they would eventually die.
Do you feel like a fish out of water? Your prolonged dissatisfaction, God-given gifts, passions and the voices of others could be telling you that you were created for another purpose. And like these fish, if you feel like you are dying inside, listen up. It could be just what you need to push you into another, more satisfying ocean.
Listen to your dissatisfaction
We’ve been taught to believe that dissatisfaction is a bad thing, and that we should do everything possible to avoid it. Shove it down. Ignore it. Act like it doesn’t bother us. Take a pill. Plaster on a smile. Buy something new, or decide that misery is part of “bearing our cross.” But above all, don’t consider that God might be using it to make us uncomfortable so we’ll want to swim in another ocean where our gifts can shine.
Don’t get me wrong; dissatisfaction can be a result of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12) and not an indication that we are out of God’s will. But it can also be a road sign that He has another purpose for us. So if you’re miserable in your current career or job, (and you have been for a long time), you’ve prayed, sought counsel from others, looked for guidance through Scripture, and you’re still miserable, consider that God may have another plan.
Listen to others
One of my closest friends lights up when she talks about mentoring young women. She also has tremendous business sense. I’ve suggested that perhaps God may use her to start a mentoring organization or ministry. When I shared my thoughts with her, she said, “You know, I’ve heard that from lots of people.”
Just as dissatisfaction can be a road sign from God to show you your purpose, listening to what others say about your gifts can do the same; so when someone notices or comments on one of your talents, take note. God may be trying to tell you something through His people.
There are times, however, when we shouldn’t listen to what others say. But when what they say about us agrees with our passions, internal convictions, gifting and what God has already revealed to us, it can be a solid indication of our God-given purpose.
Listen to your gifts
I’ve never liked math. Whenever I come within five feet of a math problem, I break out in hives. Numbers have never been my thing and my guess is that they never will be because God created me with different gifts. Even though I can’t do math, I can write, paint, draw, sing and communicate well. These gifts are also road signs to where God is directing me.
Have you ever considered your talents and gifts? Do you get a kick out of soccer? Are you a strategic thinker? A great listener? Can you motivate others to action with your words? Are you skilled at building things? I suggest making a list of the things and activities that interest you in which you excel. You can also ask yourself, “What’s the one thing that I do better than others?” This can also clue you into your God-given purpose.
The gifts God gives us are like little seeds planted inside us, but for them to grow we have to use them. This means that if you can’t identify which “Gift Seeds” God has given you, try doing new things that interest you. Through these new experiences, God will reveal more to you about who you are and how He has called you to serve Him.
Listen to your passions
If I could ask you what makes you angry, joyful, excited or passionate, what would you say? Take note of when your emotions are moved; these times can be a sign of your God-given purpose.
I get fired up about the godless condition of the world. When I hear about little children being abused, I get angry. When someone tells me a story about loyal love, I am deeply moved. An exquisite arrangement of words on a page fills my heart with passion. A story of someone’s heartbreak grieves me. Talking about Christ stirs me up. When coupled with my talents, these passions point in the direction of my purpose of written and spoken communication about things that deeply impact people on a spiritual and emotional level.
Pray. Ask God to show you the things that move you and make a list. And remember, He wants you to discover His purpose for you more than you do. Lastly, consider that your purpose is not just about you; it’s about what God wants to do through you. Therefore, if you ignore or neglect your dissatisfaction, what others say about you, your gifts and your passions, you are not only betraying yourself, but betraying God; because He has called you to a purpose and wants you to walk in it for others and for your own joy. Also consider that since God has called you, He is completely able to reveal your purpose to you, and He will as you diligently seek Him (Hebrews11:6).
Shana Schutte When I once watched paramedics arrive at an accident within minutes, I was in awe of how quickly they had come. What if they didn’t have a map? I wondered. Most likely, they would have driven in circles with a next-to-nothing chance of arriving at their destination.
Because goals are the “map” that will guide you toward your God-given purpose, without setting them you will also wander in circles without getting where you need to go.
Setting Goals Is Not Unspiritual
Many people wrongly think, “Goal setting is unspiritual because it shows a lack of trust. It’s not right to plan. Instead, people should wait for God to lead them.”
Granted, God doesn’t want us to forge ahead in pride without consulting Him for direction. But neither does He want us to sit around without acting, because He’s given us gifts and talents and has also said that we are called to do good works (Eph. 2: 8-10, Romans 12:4-8, Matthew 25:14-30).
Forging ahead without seeking God or sitting back and doing nothing can stem from fear or a lack of faith. However, setting goals and consulting with Him shows that you trust Him and believe that He is able to lead you while you are moving forward.
The revelation of God’s will is limited and progressive your goals may change.
My mother talks in details. If you meet her, she probably won’t just tell you she purchased fabric for her latest wall hanging. Instead, she’ll tell you why she purchased the fabric, whom she was with at the store, when she did it, and how much it cost. She might say something like, “You know Mary? She’s my neighbor who is married to the plumber and she has a schnauzer. Anyway, I went shopping with her today for two hours and I purchased some fabric from the store around the corner from Judy’s house. You remember Judy, right? Well, the fabric has a sort of blue background with an orange pattern running through it. I just love patterns. I make a lot of quilts using them. You should try it. Anyway, the fabric was on sale, $2.99 per yard. Great deal!”
I recently heard on a radio program that my mother is a “circular communicator” she starts with a topic, talks in a circle while adding details and then, in conclusion, she ties all the information together in a verbal bow. In years past, I wished God was more like my mother, that He would give me more details about what He wanted me to do. I was certain that more knowledge would guarantee that I wouldn’t ruin my life by stepping out of His will.
Sadly, many people are like I was. They assume that God needs to give them the entire picture of how their purpose will play out before they set goals. Because they are afraid and don’t trust that God is in control of their future and purpose, they demand to hear from Him in the same way that my mother talks in details. “You will become a doctor. You will go to college at Harvard where you will study brain surgery. After that, you will move to Houston, Texas, where you will immediately become a part of the staff at M.D. Anderson. You’ll stay there your entire career until you retire.”
Granted, God can do anything, but my personal experience and the experiences of biblical saints reveals that God doesn’t give all the details at once while we are fulfilling our purpose. Instead, He often provides just enough information to help us move forward one step at a time. This helps our faith grow. This does not mean we shouldn’t set goals. Instead, it means we need to trust Him to lead us into the unknown, and that we may need to reevaluate and change our goals as He gives us more information. This is OK. It’s part of having a dynamic, collaborative and exciting relationship with Him. Can you imagine if we had the future all figured out? Life would not be as exciting.
As you progress in your purpose and God reveals more information to you, keep a dialogue open with Him, pay attention to the road signs He provides along the way and listen to Him speak to you through His Word and the Holy Spirit. Then you can be confident that He will show you when you are in—and out—of His will.
Set goals in the context of the total person that God has made you to be.
There are many ways to approach goal setting. Some people look at the big picture, then break goals down into smaller chunks, and some like to take a looser approach. However, no matter how you set goals, it’s important to consider the total how God made you in the process.
God created you (and every person on planet Earth) with several parts. Like a pie with separate pieces, each part is critical to who you are; and all of these parts must be considered when you set goals.
The five parts of a person include:
If you fail to give each part the proper attention and care as you reach toward your God-given purpose, you’ll experience problems.
For example, because God created you as a spiritual being, He wants you to love Him with your whole heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22: 37-40). This means that your goals must agree with your spiritual convictions. If you set goals that go against what you know God asks of you, you will become fragmented emotionally and intellectually and you will lose your joy and enthusiasm.
Additionally, because God also created you to need connection with others, if you neglect the social aspect of your life and become “all work and no play” you will become out of balance and you’ll most likely experience physical, emotional, social and spiritual troubles like a character I learned about when I was seven.
I learned about Mr. Bumble from A Pickle for a Nickle, one of my favorite story books. Mr. B. had full, pink cheeks, tiny eyes, a belly like St. Nick and a total Type-A ‘tude. Thankfully, he knew his purpose and was passionate about it, but he had a problem—his life was out of balance because he failed to set his goals in the context of the total person God made him to be.
Like you and I God made Mr. Bumble with a deep need to connect with others and God. He also had a body that needed care to run efficiently and a mind that needed to solve problems. But because Mr. Bumble was all work and no play, he was often cranky and irritable.
One day when “Type-A Bumble” came home after work and discovered that his neighbor boy had taught his parrot to ask over and over, “Want a pickle for a nickle?” it pushed Mr. Bumble over the edge. His red face filled an entire story book page as he ranted and raved. If Mr. Bumble hadn’t neglected so many critical areas of his life, my guess is that he would have been a little less up tight—and he would have had more fun while he was fulfilling his purpose.
There’s no doubt that God wants you to fulfill your purpose. In fact, it’s your duty since He has given you gifts to do so. However, be mindful not to neglect any of the five areas that make up you who you are while you do His work.
Finally, remember that the world does not rest on your shoulders. You will make mistakes in setting goals. It’s OK. Because God wants to see you do His will, He will teach you the way to do as you walk in Faith (Psalm 32:8).