Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daily Digest #375

When your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?” . . . you shall say, “It is the Passover.” —Exodus 12:26-27

Defining My Life's Mission
By Rick Warren | Thursday, January 15, 2009 | 8:38 PM EST
From Purpose Driven Magazine

If most of us drove our cars the way we live our lives, we’d never get out of the driveway. At best, everything would be haphazard. With no road map or direction in mind, we would simply react to traffic rather than purposefully navigate ourselves to our destination. Or perhaps we could think of a hundred places to go, but at the end of the day, we’d be out of gas and right back where we started. Does that sound like your life? If so, then it’s time to define your life mission.

What is a life mission? A life mission is a description of what you believe God wants you to do with your life. A life mission is more than a goal. It’s not simply a to-do list. Many people confuse a goal with a life mission. If you ask them “What’s your purpose in life?” they’ll answer with a list of goals: graduate, get married, buy a house, make a million bucks, retire—those are all goals. Goals are fine, but goals are worthless unless you have an overarching life mission that will bring all of those goals into focus.

Your life mission is the reason you exist. It’s why God put you on this earth. Your life mission expresses your values, your S.H.A.P.E. (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences) and your commitment to God’s purpose for your life. Your life mission answers the questions “What on earth am I here for? What does God want to do through my life?”

Your life mission is not to be confused with your career. It’s much bigger than that. You can lose your job, but you can never lose your God-given mission. It’s the reason he created you.

I’ve heard people say, “Why is it important to define my life mission? I don’t have time to do that.” Think of it this way: An average person in America will live 700,000 hours. Isn’t it worth four or five of those hours to find out what you should be doing with the rest of them? Imagine the tragedy if you spent all of that time doing the wrong thing.

How can you discover your life mission? You start with two options. You can try to decipher it through speculation or you can discover it through revelation. Speculation is mere guess-work. You can read philosophy or self-help books, but they’re just guessing too. They’re filled with theories and conjecture that are highly unreliable. One answer is as good as another.

Fortunately, there is another book you can refer to—the Bible, God’s Word. That’s revelation. The Bible was written by your Creator, and it’s the owner’s manual for your life. The Bible teaches very clearly that life is a test and that this life is preparation for eternity. You may spend 80 to 90 years in this world, but you’re going to spend millions and millions of years in eternity.

God has put you here to develop your character. He’s put you here to test your faithfulness, and to get you ready for eternity with Him. The Bible says, “Don't act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to” (Ephesians 5:17 LB).

Here are five questions you need to consider when you think about your life mission:

What will be the center of my life?

Who or what are you living for? You have to start with this question. You must have something at the center of your life that everything else revolves around. Like the hub of a wheel, it holds everything else together.

There are many options. You could center your life on your career. I don’t advise that. You could center your life on your possessions. I don’t advise that either. You could also center your life on pleasure or popularity. But none of these things are really going to last. God made you to center your life on him.

In fact, God says this is the first purpose he made you for. You were created to be loved by God. God knows everything about you and he still loves you. Here’s the amazing thing: He wants you to know him—not just know about him, but to know him and love him back. Your primary purpose in life is to know and love God, because he knows and loves you.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 NIV). It’s the most important thing.

Proverbs 9:10 (LB) says, “Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.” Until you know God, you’re just speculating on the purpose for your life. But when you understand who God is, you’re going to understand who you are and why he put you here. Do you know God or do you just know about him?

What will be the character of my life?

What are you going to be? God is far more interested in what you are than what you do. He is far more concerned about developing your character than making you comfortable. What kind of character does he want to develop? He wants to make you like Christ.

Romans 8:29 (LB) says, “From the very beginning God decided that those who came to him . . . should become like his Son.” God wants you to learn to think like Jesus, to talk like Jesus, to act like Jesus. Those character traits are summarized in Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV): “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

How does God develop those qualities in you? He does it by putting you in the exact opposite situations. For instance, God teaches you to love by putting unlovely people around you. He teaches you to be joyful by allowing hardship in your life. He teaches you patience by letting you stand in line at the post office! Fruit doesn’t grow without fertilizer, and God uses hardships to fertilize the seeds he plants in your soul so the fruit of the Spirit will grow.

If God is going to make you like Jesus Christ, that means he’s going to take you through the same kinds of experiences that Jesus Christ went through. Were there times when Jesus was lonely? Yes. Were there times when he was tempted? Yes. Were there times when He could have become discouraged? Yes. Do you think you should be exempt from those? Of course not. They are all part of character development. Remember, this life is a test. God is getting you ready for eternity and he's watching how you respond to those situations..

What will be the contribution of my life?

What are you going to give back? What will you do with your time, your treasure, and your God-given talents? God put you here to make a contribution with your life, to put something into this world to make it a better place.

How do you know what your contribution is? Look at your S.H.A.P.E.—your spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences—and ask yourself, “What am I naturally good at?” God uniquely shaped you to serve others.

The Bible says, “It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others” (Ephesians 2:10 LB).

You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. Abundant living comes from abundant giving.

Below are my last two questions:

What will be the communication of my life?

What will be your life message? God wants to say something to the world that he can only say through you. At the same time, there is one message that he expects all to share: the Good News of Jesus Christ. God made you to tell others about him. If you don’t tell other people about him, how are they going to know? How would you have known if somebody hadn’t told you? God wants us all to share Christ with others.

The Bible says in Acts 20:24 (LB), “Life is worth nothing, unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling the others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.”

In addition to that, you have a unique life message that is based on your gifts, passions, and experiences. In fact, your greatest life messages come out of your experiences. Especially the painful ones. God never wastes a hurt, and he can use even your most tragic experiences to touch the lives of other hurting people. There is no baby born by accident. There is no loss that cannot be redeemed.

How does God use unexpected problems in your life mission? How can he bring good out of even your worst experiences? When you respond correctly to an unexpected problem, it can help you know God and his love better. It can help you grow in Christ-like character. It can give you a ministry to others. And it can give you a new life message about God’s power, faithfulness, mercy, and love.

What will be the community of my life?

Will you demonstrate your commitment to the family of God? There are over 50 “one anothers” in the Bible: Love one another, serve one another, share with one another, etc. Obviously, you cannot practice these “one another” commands by yourself. They must be done in community.

A big part of your life mission will be lived out in fellowship with other followers of Christ. That’s why it’s so important to be a part of a local church and a small group. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone.

What will be the center, character, contribution, communication, and community of your life? The answers to these questions will be the basis of your life mission statement. Take time to think deeply about them. Write down your answers. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly worded thesis statement. But it does need to be carefully thought out and articulated. Once you know your mission, then you can begin to set goals to accomplish it.

What matters at the end of your life is not what other people say about you. What matters most is what God is going to say about you. I want to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

What do you want to hear him say? - End

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