Three ways to live your life on purpose
Purpose; but how do I live a life of purpose?
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).
Planning is critical in life. Financial planners help us get our financial matters in order and plan for retirement. Doctors help us by establishing a wellness plan when we are sick. Business leaders make plans to bring a profit to the shareholders. Our pastors help us to make plans that will bring honor and glory to God. We plan to accommodate our priorities. A priority is a value, goal, relationship, or cause of leading importance in your life: something for which you live, the shaping value, a commitment that has first claim on you and your resources. In practice we all have priorities, whether we are aware of them or not. They may be consciously chosen or set for us by circumstances. We all pattern our lives toward some end, center our lives around some loyalty or purpose, or base our security on some trusted power.
One of Henry David Thoreau’s most frequently quoted sayings is “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I first learned of this by watching the 1989 film, Dead Poets Society. Life without a purpose can lead to listlessness and even depression or “quiet desperation.” A life lived on purpose gives your life purpose, direction, and meaning. A person with a purpose is growing, moving toward wholeness and fulfillment. A life without purpose is aimless.
Our purpose as disciples is to make disciples. Matthew 28 contains The Great Commission.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Each of us has been gifted with unique talents which we can use in our evangelism and ministry. Our discipleship plan must discern the intersection of our gifts and interests. This is the sweet spot for each individual ministry. I encourage you to talk to your close friends to discern and/or confirm your gifts.
Discernment of your ministry of discipleship is an enormous task. Below are some ideas to consider in this regard.
- Be wise and listen to advice
Remember the lesson of Proverbs 12:15. Surround yourself with Godly people and the Holy Spirit will speak truth through them to you. Pray for discernment and recall the words of Matthew 11:15 when with your friends, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” According to my good friend Rev. Ted Fine, “The church’s role is to build communities of disciples where social justice and the general welfare of the people are protected by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Body.” We are the church universal.
- Give it to God
You are not God, and I am not God. The Great Commission is a Godly task. He does not expect for us to do this alone but with Him. The Psalmist wrote in 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” A clean heart, a right spirit, and a dependence upon God’s providence and grace for assistance will help us to speak words and do works that bring honor to God.
Luke 2 tells the story of the birth of Christ. The angels announced His birth to the shepherds who then went to see Jesus in the manger. Later, in the same chapter, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple to give an offering to God for the birth of their child. The Holy Spirit had revealed to a man named Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the birth of the Messiah. The Bible does not indicate how long Simeon waited for the birth of Christ, but the fact that it says he would not die until he saw the Savior indicates that he waited some time. Whatever the task is that God has called us to, we need to continue doing the work even if we don’t see the progress we would like to see.
Your purpose as a Christian is the same as mine, to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are all called into ministry through our baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Our ministry is a product of our gifts and talents and all ministry helps to equip the body of Christ. Your purpose may or may not call you to pastoral ministry but be assured that your purpose is vital to the body of Christ.
Prayer: Dear God: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 KJV).
Todd Shupe is a Vice President with Arnold Forest Products Corp. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and Board Member of the Kingdom Group. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.