This post is a continuation of a discussion on the discovery of how to live the good life by finding your true identity in this world and knowing your purpose. You can read the previous posts here, here, here, and here.
How we identify our purpose. “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)
Jesus is talking about our life, our calling, our purpose. He’s talking about what we’re talking about in this series.
A yoke is a device that ties two animals together, pulling a plow, so that the work is distributed between them. If the yoke is well-fitted, the work is easier. If the yoke is ill-fitted, the work is harder. When we are connected to Jesus, our load is lighter.
He tells us we can learn from him. The first four books of the New Testament give us the things he says and our instructions for living as Christians. In this passage, Jesus also talks about rest in two different ways. The first rest is simply a break from work. The second rest is a deeper type of rest. While we are in this rest, we are to recover strength.
This is related to our purpose because it gives us an indication that if we go to Jesus, do our work with him, we will find that the work is easy and we have renewed strength. Our work will be perfectly tailored for us, like a well-fitted yoke. We will rely on Jesus to do what we need to do, he will share in the burden supporting us. Doing it will not feel like work, but will be a natural expression of who we are.
What are Spiritual Gifts. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 1 Corinthians 12:4,7 NLT.
We were created by God to be a part of a whole system. He knows everything about us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Since we were created to fill a part of a system our part will fit us and the system perfectly. In order to fill our role, he gives us specific gifts that are tailored to who we are, how we’re going to use them, and how we will need to fit into the whole.
Consider a system of gears operating together. The spokes on one gear turn the spokes on another gear, which turn the spokes on a third gear. This turning can go on for many gears. The gears working together can operate a whole machine, which in turn can produce thousands of widgets, to supply a larger operation. This is how the world works. This is what it means to be a part of the world.
Consider also that if we are wearing an ill-fitting yoke, the work is not evenly distributed and it is a heavy burden to bear. The work is harder and we find that we are not relying on Jesus but on our own strength. This usually means that we are chasing some worldly thing rather than the things that God has said are good. The result is crashing and burning.
When we get lost in the world, we get burned out. That’s where I found myself as a result of chasing the wrong things and not relying on Jesus. I was trying to do what I wanted to do, under all my own power. I chased money and the world instead of chasing heaven. I wanted everything that I thought I deserved: pride, money, success, and things. I wanted these things because that’s what a lawyer has and does.
Determining our Spiritual Gifts. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12, NLT. Also, read 1 Corinthians 12 and you’ll find a list of the spiritual gifts. Also, check out Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. Every time a writer talks about gifts, the writer talks about service. This tells us that no matter how we are gifted, we will serve.
We also know we will serve because that is what Jesus says repeatedly. He often says things like humble yourself and the first will be last. He also says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28, NIV. (see also Mark 10:45) Everything Jesus does points us to his example as a servant including washing the feet of the man who claimed to be his friend and betrayed him. (See Matthew 26 and John 13)
Based on all of this, my conclusion is: we have a place in this world, to serve others, giving our testimony on how Jesus saved and healed us.
We often have a desire, conscious or subconscious, to be important in this world. We want our purpose in life to be something grand. Because of this we often miss the trees for the forest in this instance (or discover water last).
One thing my church suggested was to take a quiz to determine your spiritual gifts. The link is here: https://hgctools.com/sgifts/ The idea is to respond as naturally as possible without overthinking anything. Okay, go take the test.
Now what? Now, make a list of all the things that you love to do. Think backwards to when you were a kid, what did you want to do then? When we are children we are uninhibited by worldly ideas. We just see something fun and we want to do it. That’s when we know the most truth about ourselves.
For example, when I was in later elementary school I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer. It sounded boring to me. I admired teachers and it looked fun to me, so I wanted to do that. I also knew that I loved to sing but by sixth grade, my voice began changing, and I wasn’t good at it anymore. Alas, I could not be like Whitney Houston. From when I was about eight until I was about 25, I wrote all the time. It was natural to me. Short stories, essays for contests, poetry, I loved and wrote it all. When I was about 18 to 20, i often said I was a writer working as a ____.
The point is when i was young, I knew best. I was an artist. I was a writer. I was a singer. I read books all day long. I loved English class and grammar. I got it, I understood it. I knew it well. As I grew up, I lost that knowledge and funneled it into something useful.
What to do. “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31, NLT.
Service is an expression of love for our neighbor. It is not one specific thing, it is different for everyone. It will always fulfill your part in the body of Christ and will always be your purpose in the Great Commission.
I think the main thing that is overlooked or dismissed is being in a family. I think we dismiss these things because we don’t think of our home as our mission field and our people as who we are serving. Yet, that is exactly what we are doing. We are teaching our children to love Jesus, love others, and love themselves when we are their example, taking them to church, or answering questions.
Our marriage and our singleness is a mission. How we live in these spaces, our happiness, our answers to questions, and sharing our lives with others is an example of living like Christ and his love for the church. Sharing our joy in singleness or relationships of any kind is being an example for Christ.
Small things that I’ve recently seen as serving – operating AV equipment at church, holding doors, serving coffee, cleaning up between services, organizing, donating time and money, writing cards to people, watching the children for the adults, teaching children of all ages about Jesus, singing in a band, playing an instrument, and so much more. As many talents and hobbies and people as there are, there are ways to serve others. Whether you write a book, a card, or a text message, you’re serving your purpose in this world.
Jesus did do a lot in his ministry. He spoke the truth, he spoke life, he spoke love. He hung out with sinners and ate dinner with them. He did good works and prayed diligently. He performed many miracles. Then he died for us.
Just like the two who gave their lunches to Jesus and he multiplied them and fed thousands. Jesus gave everything he had and God multiplied by a trillion to save countless numbers of people through the ages. Just like when you give whatever you have to give, he will multiply it and satisfy the need you were meant to fill. That’s why your here – to fit a you-sized place in the world.
What do you think? Have you been journaling with me? Finding your identity and purpose in the world? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and enter the conversation.