I know for a lot of people, especially in the culture we live in today – a culture that places such a strong emphasis on individual talent, potential and and success, the question “what is my purpose, direction and calling in life?” is a big one.
This question is one that I have wrestled with over the years, and although I haven’t got all the answers, I’ve definitely learnt a lot.
It’s important firstly to understand there are different layers to our purpose and calling.
Nothing explains the concept of layers better than this clip…
When I think about the different layers that our purpose consists of – the core and most fundamental layer is without a doubt our identity & character in Christ as children of God. It’s crucial that this is the place our purpose is built off, our position as sons and daughters of God is the most sure and secure foundation that cannot be shaken and doesn’t change, no matter where we live and what our vocation is.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
Galatians 3:26 NIV
As children of God, by nature this makes us citizens Heaven and therefore ambassador’s of Christ living on the earth. This is the next layer of our calling and looks like two things: we are disciple makers and builders of the church.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20 NIV
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
It’s important to realise this is not a purpose reserved just for people in full time ministry, but is the primary call and commission from God to all believers. He wants all of us to represent Him, reach out to the people around us and be builders of His house, the church, no matter what our life looks like.
The final layer, and the one I want to focus on for the rest of this post is the layer where most of our questions and struggles reside.
The irony is that the outer layer, the layer of our context, is seen the most by others and therefore often becomes what we are recognised by and what we define ourselves as. But the truth is the outer layer is the least significant and what changes and evolves the most throughout our lives.
This is why understanding the core layers of our purpose as children of God, citizens of Heaven and ambassadors of Christ is so important – when we define ourselves by those unchanging callings, we aren’t nearly as effected when the outer layer of circumstance and context shifts and changes.
The outer layer consists of 3 things:
ONE // OUR GIFTS
Although our gifts are core to who we are and part of our individual wiring, we need to understand there place in our lives, this is also true of our personality – I believe both our gifts and personality have default positions and are also developing at the same time. For example, there are things that I am naturally good at, yet also there are skills that I have learnt and acquired over time through my environment and experience. In the same way, I am naturally quite an intuitive and spontaneous leader, yet have learnt (am still learning) how to slow down, look at things logically, give people facts, and make sure the team is on the same page before moving ahead.
Our gifts (and our personality) are a crucial part of our purpose and calling, but are not the foundation of our identity. The best part about our gifts, is that they go with us, no matter what job we have or who we’re with, we have these gifts as tools to serve the people around us.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 NIV
TWO // OUR GRACE
This is an area I love talking about and one that is often overlooked. Our grace is the thing that people feel when we use our gift, it’s the spirit in us. It’s important for us to understand not just what we do (our gifts), but what we carry and what we impart to people.
I believe our grace is made up of our past experiences and breakthroughs, our revelation of Christ and testimony – it’s the portion of Christ that we have within us. Our grace is best felt when we’re using our gifts. For example, my wife Bek is a beautiful singer, and has a real revelation of purity and devotion to God – when she sings, that’s what you feel, that’s what’s imparted.
So the question of our purpose isn’t just about “what am I good at?”,
But also “what do I impart?”.
THREE // OUR GROUND
The area of our ground, the geographical landscape of our life is often the area that we stress over the most, when really, it’s the least important when defining our purpose and calling. It’s the one area we can be sure will constantly change.
Ground is things like, the role or position we have in church, different jobs we have, the school we attend and even the city we live in. When we put too much hope and security in the ground that we have, when that ground changes, our whole world gets shaken – all because we defined ourselves and our calling by something so inconsistent.
A great quote that perfectly displays how we should treat the ground we have is…
“Treat where you are as if it’s forever, but realise it never is.”
Ps Mark Kelsey
We need to learn the art of holding things loosely while being committed to them fervently – if we hold things tightly, it never ends well, but if we’re not committed to them fervently, we become complacent and don’t work hard.
Typically, we’ll either gravitate towards one extreme or the other – personally, I find myself not easily committing to my current ground, always looking for something new. Others can hold too tightly to their current ground, making it hard to move on.
This verse helped me a lot…
Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
Proverbs 28:19 NIV
It’s not wrong to have visions and dreams – but I’ve found they too easily become a distraction from the now. The best thing for us to do is get a vision for the ground we have today. As we’re present and faithful with our today, God will be faithful in working out our tomorrow.
Hope this has helped!