Inspired by an article that I recently read in a home design magazine, I paused to ruminate the interviewer’s inquiry: “What is a question you’re constantly trying to answer?” Later in the interview the architect was asked what advice she’d give to young apprentices. Her response, “Develop a voice and a mission” (Mariam Kamara).
In discovering your purpose, a major indicator of what it is can be determined by what really gets a rise out of you.
There is so much wrong around us. There is so much that needs to be attended to. In our own homes and communities, there is so much to be done to help to make our lives and world better. What we must do is gain and maintain focus on what it is, and then stay the course.
I often encounter people who grapple with who they are. “I don’t know what my purpose is,” they say. They’re conflicted about what to do with their lives. Moreover, the urgency of what to do seems greater when trauma strikes. The answers are found when one looks within versus looking around. One definition of distraction is “mental confusion.” Unfinished projects, the kids, spouses and significant others, work, church, events, friends, extended family, social media, television, traumatic events and other obligations or distractions—all these persons or things can inform what needs to be done in the world, but they can also be distractive to what you should be doing relative to God’s calling on your life.
“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected” (Genesis 4:6)? The danger of doing nothing, overwhelmed by a plethora of some-things, is that one can become bitter, angry, and dejected due to imagining that another seems to be ahead of them because of unfair conditions. This is especially true of those who are networked with others with like callings or purposes—or simply of the same kin, like Cain and Abel. Two very different siblings with the same command from God. Both brothers were required to bring an offering to God, from their abundance, but Abel obeyed the instructions with a reverent heart, while Cain winged it showing little reverence for God. Not getting the recognition that he wanted he then became embittered.
As a writer there were many times when I would see “my” words or concepts published by another writer—same calling, same thoughts! Barring plagiarism this would spark feelings of anxiety, then envy, seeing that they’d said exactly what I’d wanted to be the first to say. Worse, what I’d assumed were my original concepts. The nerve of them! I’m jesting, but I’ve since learned to resist the temptation to give in to my emotions—to not be hasty in my assumptions. I remind myself that all that we have comes from God.
Nothing is original to humanity, but all has its genesis in God. He is all wisdom and shares with whom he will as we seek him.
Further, Jesus is the initiator and completer of our faith. We were all created in God’s persona with the ability to feel, think, and will. Those who are Christians are born of one Spirit, the Spirit of God our Father. It stands to reason, then, that the oracles of God would be repeated from the sources of his many children! I’m willing to bet that my three siblings have and will repeat some of the same words or concepts that our parents have taught us as well.
There are no acceptable excuses to not discovering your purpose. Once you put your flesh in check and stop focusing on what others may or may not be doing, ask yourself, “What question do I constantly strive to answer? How will I develop my voice and mission?” THIS WILL TAKE TIME, but time well spent. With the passage of time you will be processed to excellence.
You will come to know how to live your life affirmed. I can attest that there is so much joy in living affirmed.
Concerning my purpose to write, I once ran my ‘what ifs’ by a friend, explaining how I couldn’t do what I’m called to do because of untimely circumstances that had knocked me off my feet. She replied, “MJ, you’re going to write because God told you to.” End of story. “And not because you or anyone else thinks you should or shouldn’t . . . I need your books,” she tearfully implored. Both surprised by her tears and feeling awkward (Helloooo, wasn’t she supposed to be consoling me as I passed the baton to someone else?), somehow, I was instantly cured of my indecision and disobedience.
God has also refused to let you off the hook for something specific. What is it? I’m going to guess that your purpose is that, or directly related to it. Typically, it’s never about you.
If what you do is not what you’re called to do in the way you’re directed to do it, it will fail you—just like it failed Cain. I say it will fail you because doing things you’re not called to do or doing them at the wrong time or in the wrong way will fail you—every time. It doesn’t make you a failure in God’s eyes, just temporarily out of order. Be encouraged, however, that the lessons learned are priceless to assure you that you are personally accountable to your Creator to discover who you are and Whose you are. Your success in life depends on it.
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
The God in you is the good in you. His glory in you is his goodness. They are your gifts to be used for purpose. They will always be used in service.
It is your right and your responsibility to ask yourself the same question that I read in that design magazine. What recurring question do you find yourself ruminating? What disrupts your peace? What do you dream about that lingers with you for hours—even days—after you’ve dreamed it? What is it that calls your attention the most when you read or hear about it? To focus in on a singular project is okay!
Doing a whole lot of something that you shouldn’t is equivalent to doing nothing that you should.
Said in another way, to “develop a voice and a mission” could simply translate to: “What is yourpurpose and calling in life and how will you execute it?” In what way would you find joy in using your life? In what ways would you feel fulfilled in living amid billions of humans? What is your personal, laudable (to yourself) mission to accomplish before you pass on? What legacy will be heard of you and your precious time on the earth? How do you identify your voice? Will you use the gift of comedy? Are you charismatic, having the gift of gab? Are you a more serious type who can appeal to intellectuals—more brainy folks? Do children bring you a special joy? The possibilities are endless for humanity, but specific for you. This doesn’t mean there aren’t multiple ways to diversify even one gift. Allow me to suggest ways to get you started in using your life purposefully.
4 PURPOSEFUL LIVING TIPS
- RUMINATE Ask yourself what makes you mad! This will probably be more than one thing. Your assignment is to seek your Creator, through prayer, to ascertain how you should turn your anger to passion. Righteous indignation doesn’t need an apology. Stop saying, “I’m sorry.” I’ve searched the Bible, and not once did Jesus say “I’m sorry” for being indignant. Rather, he spoke of the great sorrows that are in the world, assuring his followers that he has already overcome them. “I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, TLB). Figure out what to do to expand God’s kingdom in the way that he wants you to.
- REEVALUATE Start eliminating things from your schedule that are not fruitful for your intended purpose. Absolutely, if you are a parent, you must parent. If you have bills to pay, you must work to pay them. But take the time to discover how your work can be profitable to your purpose. This may be remaining at the same job but taking a more active leadership role akin to your gifting. Your gift may in fact be organizational leadership. Again, your gift may be child care, rearing and well-being. You may be a daycare provider or a soccer coach. The question to ask is, are you contributing to humanity in a wholesome way?
- RESIST Fight the urge or temptation to do what others are doing, or in the way that they are doing it. Sometimes we have the best of intentions, yet our contributions and focus are not best used there, or at all. Other times, God may simply be saying “not now.” True of parents, especially stay-at-home parents, there are days when you may envy those who are doing things that generate income. Always remember that our children are a valuable commodity for the future state of our world—that’s not something that can be paid for. Parents who are making sacrifices to instill godly values in our children are fulfilling an incredibly honorable contribution to humanity, to our society.
- REFUSE Don’t give up. Discover your voice and let it be heard. Don’t be guilty or apologetic about taking the time to reinforce your ability to make a difference in your community. This may even mean going back to school. Give yourself the time that you need to be developed in knowledge, faith, and courage. Exchange pressing responsibilities with others to accommodate your action plan and theirs. Go to church. Read. Walk with God amid his creation—nature. Take in a movie alone. Develop a listening ear and a sensitivity to the promptings of the quiet voice within you. God speaks when we’re quiet. Converse with him all day long. “Deep calls to deep . . .” (Psalm 42:7, ESV). God is a Spirit who connects with you through your spirit. Let peace of mind be your confirmation to move forward. If you’re disturbed, unsettled, anxious, overly excited, or unsure, be still. Keep a positive outlook amid dire circumstances. This will mean repeatedly checking in with God for direction regarding your contributions for change. Be faithful to what you hear. You may be one of those who can ‘get a prayer through’—those gifted to intercede in a warrior’s position! I’m not suggesting Polly Anna affirmations here, I’m suggesting declaring the situation-changing word of God! Praying the Word is a powerful weapon to defeat the darkness that looms seemingly prevalent in the world.
When you’re overwhelmed by all that needs to be changed around you, redirect your thoughts to what needs to be transformed within you, in order to do what you’re charged to do. As you do your part to manage your life effectively, you will see clearly what your responsibilities are to humanity. LYLA!
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