At some point in life, all of us wrestle with what I call the three ultimate questions of life.
Where did I come from?
Why am I here?
What happens when I die?
The first and last of those three questions involve metaphysical speculation. We can look to science and philosophy for guidance, but at the end of the day, the conclusions we reach will not be proven in this life. Each of us will look at the data and arrive at a conclusion.
The middle question – why am I here? – is a question that will ultimately influence every decision we face in this life. How we answer that question will determine how we choose to invest our talents and spend our time and money.
So why are you here? What’s your purpose?
The pastors and theologians who met four hundred years ago and drafted what we know today as the Westminster Confession of Faith saw that as the first question for men and women to face as all of us think about our relationship with God. They famously asked the questions “what is the chief end (or purpose) of man?” And just as famously, they answered their question by asserting that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
That chief purpose statement answers in a general way why each one of us lives and breathes and has our being. Whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, the Bible says we are to glorify God.
It gets a little trickier when it comes to determining our specific “why.” At some point we all have to grapple with how we invest our lives and what our specific Kingdom assignment ought to be.
If you’ve wondered if you are maximizing your life for Kingdom purposes, let me suggests six areas to consider:
1. Look at how you were made. The God who knit you together in your mothers’ womb was intentional about His divine knitting. He created you uniquely, as one of a kind, not simply to display how diverse His creative skills are. He made you the way you are so you would be equipped to fulfill the works He has planned for you. Looking at how you were put together will give you some insight into your part in the divine mission.
You may have special physical characteristics that offer some insight. Everything from your gender to the color of your skin to your athletic ability to special physical challenges you may face in your life will play a part – in some cases, a determinative part – in helping you think about what you were created to do. What can appear as a limitation may turn out to be God’s design unique for how you can best serve Him.
2. Look at your personality. Some people move at a faster pace than others. They seem to thrive on chaos. Some people are quiet and reserved. Some are detail oriented. Some are funny. Some aren’t.
It doesn’t matter what parts of our personality are wired together in the womb and what parts are shaped more by our environment. God is in control of both. The “take charge” kind of personality will likely have a different role to play in Kingdom work than the detail person.
But be careful. Your personality should never be a pigeonhole. You may not be a natural leader, but there will be plenty of times you’ll be called on to lead. You may be shy, but there will be times when you will need to step forward and initiate. And if you’re outgoing, there will be times when you’ll need to lay back. Saying “That’s just the way I am” is never an excuse for complacency, laziness or sin.
Just like your physical characteristics, your personality may give you some clues about your assignment, but it won’t solve the puzzle completely.
3. Look at your natural talents. You may be artistic. Musical. A good cook. You may be fast or strong. You may be a good writer. You may have a talent for making other people feel at ease.
God has given you whatever talents or special abilities you have. You are the steward of those gifts. There may be a way you can use those talents in your service for Him.
4. Look at how you’re spiritually gifted. There are lists in different kinds of spiritual gifts the Bible (see 1 Cor. 12, 1 Peter 4, Romans 12). When God redeems us, He also gifts each of us with special abilities to be used to edify other believers.
Your spiritual gift will have a direct bearing on the part you are to play in serving God. That’s the whole reason you were given a spiritual gift in the first place – so that you can us it to serve Him and to serve others. If you wonder if you have a particular spiritual gift, you should look for opportunities to use that gift and then see if others affirm your giftedness.
5. Look at your interests. What topics or subjects pique your interest? Gardening? Athletics? Politics? Are you interested in math? In science? Your interests can be a factor in how you might be able to invest in Kingdom work. Whether your interests lead you in a particular vocational direction or show up primarily as a hobby, those interests might give you some options for spiritual service.
6. Look at what excites you and brings you satisfaction. What kinds of things stir in you a sense of the pleasure of God? In the movie Chariots of Fire, Scottish sprinter Eric Liddel was urged by his sister to ignore his running and to begin making plans for the mission field instead. He tells her that he intends to do mission work eventually, but he believes that for now, he is to run for the glory of God. “When I run,” Liddel says in the movie, “I feel His pleasure.”
Can you look back at your life and identify any times when you have sensed God’s pleasure?
Rick Warren likes to use the acronym S.H.A.P.E. to help people think though how they can use their lives to honor God. He says we should examine our Spiritual gifts, our Heart (passions), our Abilities, our Personality and our Experiences.
If you’ve found yourself wondering if how you’re investing your life is in line with God’s purpose for your life, these are areas for you to explore and consider.
And however you are investing your life, remember that your core
We’ve updated and corrected a couple of dates on the fall calendar.
And some special upcoming events to take note of:
It's almost time for small groups to start up again this fall. Are you in a small group? Looking for one to visit? Here's what's happening starting next month:
How do we reconcile the command for us to love our enemies with some of the prayers in the book of Psalms that call on God to do horrible things to people?
Psalm 137 is one of those kinds of Psalms. And we’ll consider it as we gather for worship this week.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!