Thriving: Got Purpose?
Many of the memories of my childhood involve tagging along behind my older brother of four years. Our summers in Arizona were spent riding bikes, playing football, building forts, mowing lawns, and delivering papers to earn money to buy a mini-bike. I was a steadfast tomboy and if Aron was doing something, I wanted to do it, too!
One evening when I was about seven, we had family and friends over. The adults were playing cards in the living room and the kids were in the bedrooms. My sister Rachel and I shared a bedroom. Rachel is six years older, and her friends were in our room talking about high school things, which didn’t appeal too much to me at the time. I was hanging with the guys in my brother’s bedroom when Aron walks out to the living room and proclaims, “Mom, can you tell Rhoda to get out of my room, she is just taking up space!” Imagine my shock – that is what I always did! My wise Aunt Eldora who just went to be with Jesus at the age of 102 fondly recalled that story up until her final year, and she would always add, “those boys must have been up to no good!”
Please believe me when I tell you, you are not here to take up space – God has a purpose for you! And even better, He has uniquely designed you for that purpose. In fact, don’t just believe me, believe these Divine Words, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
King David understood this when he proclaimed, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 13-16)
God could have placed you on any continent, in any century in history, amidst any family…and He chose to have you here, at this time, surrounded by these people. That is not an accident or coincidence. He has a plan or purpose for you, but how do you know what it is? You can begin by asking this question: How do I faithfully use the gifts He has given me to serve Him, by serving the people He has placed around me?
Your vocation, or your calling is your invitation to participate in the work God is doing around you.
It consists of the things you do, and the people you interact with as you use your God-given gifts for God’s glory, in gratitude to Him!
You may receive a paycheck for this work, and you may not. What do you find fulfilling? What are the things you do that leave you excited and content? I once heard that your vocation is “the intersection where your unique gifts meet the world’s great need.” You have different gifts than those around you. You may feel a sense of joy from what others may dread doing. For example, I love high school and college age kids; I’ve spent my career surrounded by them. I have friends who say, “How can you do that?” They are usually my friends who teach early childhood, to which I reply, “And I don’t understand how you do that!” We have each been given different gifts. I so admire nurses and those who care for others when they are not feeling well. I might be able to do it for a time, for someone I love, but I would certainly not find it energizing or uplifting. This is a pretty good indicator to me that the medical field is not my purpose or His plan for my life. Please understand that not every calling is fulfilling in every way. Most areas of vocation have aspects we don’t enjoy or get excited about. I don’t know many parents that get excited to change a diaper, but it comes with the territory they love.
What fulfills you? What drains you? These are good places to begin exploring and discovering your purpose.
Over the past few months we have been talking about thriving. We have learned that gratitude and contentment are both characteristics of people who are thriving. A sense of purpose is also a strong characteristic. I would encourage you over the next month to ponder those times when you feel very fulfilled and content, what do they have in common? I’d also encourage you to pray for discernment, ask God to help you better understand your unique gifts and how you can use them in service to others, out of gratitude to Him. He has a plan and you have a purpose!