By Bill Peel
Do you ever have questions about your purpose? What you have to offer the world? Why you even exist in the first place?
If so, you’re not alone. Most people are confused about their place and purpose in the world. They conclude that life just doesn’t make sense. But wait! Shouldn’t Christians have a clearer picture of their calling and where they fit in? After all, we have a personal connection with our Creator, the author of meaning and purpose Himself.
Yet for many Christians, knowing God’s plan for their life seems like a quest for the Holy Grail: a lifelong search to find what they were created to do, while wondering if somehow they’re seeking a myth. As a result, they drift through life feeling as though there must be something more, wishing they were doing something else, hoping that one day they will stumble onto their purpose or that heaven will part and they will see the light.
No matter how gift-challenged you may feel, you have an important role in God’s plan. Destiny is not reserved for the famous or exceptionally gifted. And discovering your destiny is anything but a novel pursuit of self-actualization. It is an essential aspect of stewardship for every child of God. Peter reminds us:
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Think of this like this: Destiny is the right person doing the right thing at the right time. For you personally this means that your destiny is at the nexus of three overlapping circles: your gifts, your passions, and your circumstances.
In this paradigm, God-given gifts and abilities determine whether you’re the right person for a particular job. Passions determine whether you’re doing the right thing with those gifts. Circumstances determine whether it’s the right time.
Gifted for God’s Work
Contrary to the American maxim that we can become anything we want to be, we are not blank slates to be written on or lumps of clay to be molded by our own willpower or the forces around us. We come into the world pre-designed with a set of God-given abilities He bestowed for His purposes. All of our gifts— both natural and spiritual—are God-ordained, given to us by divine design. They are not acquired nor distributed arbitrarily. Comparing the distribution of gifts in the church to a body, Paul writes:
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. (1 Corinthians 12:18)
According to Psalm 139, there is nothing arbitrary about us. We are the work of a dedicated Craftsman.
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. (Psalms 139:13-16)
Designed for a Purpose
Why all this craftsmanship on God’s part, this attention to detail? God had certain things in mind for you that guided His work. Your gifts were bestowed so that you might have the capability to achieve certain accomplishments God had in mind before He began His work.
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)
Since God gives these abilities, they come with a responsibility to Him for their use.
Understanding your unique giftedness will relieve the guilt and guesswork in determining God’s will for your life. Every day you are bombarded with expectations from your friends, parents, classmates, professors, church, and society as a whole. Your personal array of gifts includes a blueprint of God’s intention for how He wants you to invest your life. To make decisions based only on needs and appeals for your time, money, energy, or intellect is to let people squeeze you into the wrong mold.
Using the gifts God gave you brings joy, energy, and enthusiasm. When you function in the area of your God-given abilities, you engage God’s creative power—and you’ll find no deeper satisfaction than in doing what He desires. He made you to know this intuitively and respond in joy. He designed you for an important role in His Kingdom, and His energy flows through the gifts He gave you—not someone else’s idea of what you should be doing.
That being the case, here are three questions we should always ask before saying Yes.
- Do you have the abilities to do the job well?
- Do you feel strongly that what you are trying to accomplish is an important undertaking?
- Has God opened the door of opportunity to make it possible?
Originally published at the Center for Faith and Work. Image: CFW.