By Dermot Cottuli
When talking about the future regardless of whether it’s in a church context or a secular setting the word vision is often mentioned.
Vision is defined as:
1. the faculty or state of being able to see
2. the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.
Vision therefore is all about a future that we can see in our imagination and then with wisdom, plan out a path that will take us there.
Vision is a step back from dreams. Dreams are also something that you see in your imagination but the difference is you have no idea how to bring them to pass. That said, quite often vision flows out of the dreams we’ve had so there is a correlation between the two.
Now before we can talk about vision we have to talk about purpose because the most effective expression of vision always comes out of a deep commitment to a clearly defined purpose. Purpose is the foundation of all great vision. It’s the launching pad of every great endeavour and the guiding hand that makes sure the arrows you fire head straight to their target. Purpose directs vision. If you don’t know your purpose then any vision for your future that you come up with, will be a fruitless and frustrating endeavour.
What’s YOUR purpose in life?
Why are you here? What are you giving your strengths, your talents and your time to?
If you don’t know your purpose then whatever picture you might have of your dream future will be constantly hijacked by 2 things,
1) your immediate wants
2) your natural tendency to try and avoid pain. You’ll find yourself living for what you think makes you happiest in the moment and what helps you to avoid as much pain as possible.
Your purpose is the WHY behind your WHAT. Why do you get up each day and go to work? Why do you spend extra time helping others pack up after a community event? Why do you stay up late and watch TV when you should be in bed? For the majority of people they’ll answer they don’t know, they just do it because they feel they have to or it’s the easiest option.
Without clear purpose there can be motion, but it will be motion without meaning.
A clear purpose produces commitment and perseverance toward the fulfilment of your vision.
Your commitment to your purpose will determine what you do when the emotion surrounding your initial decision to act, disappears.
So how do you figure out what the purpose of your life is?
I’m going to spell it out as simply as I can.
Firstly you need to identify who or what it is in your life that you’re serving. And then decide whether you want to continue to serve them over the course of your lifetime.
We all serve something to the detriment of other things, in our lives either consciously or unconsciously. Jesus identified this when he said, you can only serve one master.
No man can work for two masters, for either he will hate one and will love the other, or he will honor one and the other he will ignore. You cannot work for God and for money.
We all have a master, something or someone that we allow to call the shots in our life. The tragedy is most people on the planet aren’t aware enough to recognise who their master is.
This is actually a huge topic for every one of us and probably the single most important question you’ll grapple with over the course of your life because your answer to the question, ‘Who are you serving?” will determine the outcome of your life and its impact on your family, your friends, your community and for some of you, our state, our country and possibly even the world.
The purpose of your life always flows out from that which you serve. You can either choose what that will be or it will choose you.
- Do you serve God?
- Do you serve yourself?
- Do you serve your libido?
- Do you serve justice?
- Do you serve pleasure?
- Do you serve the approval of others?
- Do you serve money?
- Do you serve your health and well-being?
- Do you serve sin?
You need to choose wisely and not allow your immediate circumstance or need, or your fear of pain and suffering to dictate what your purpose in life is going to be.
Joshua put this challenge to the Israelites when he asked them to choose who they would serve
Joshua 24:14-15 NLT
“So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
Make sure whatever it is that you’re serving has the power to give you life. Because the difference between a real God and a false one is that one gives life to you and the other requires life FROM you. One gives you value and meaning, the other needs you to give value and meaning to it.
We all end up serving something regardless of how independent we think we are. In fact those who pride themselves on their independence simply end up serving a god made in their own image, themselves.
If we decide that we’re going to serve God just like Joshua did the next question would be, what does it mean to serve God? It simply means that we seek to please him by doing the things that are closest to His heart.
And that would be found in God’s purpose on the earth today. Obviously we can’t serve him in heaven but we can serve him here. So what’s His purpose? What’s His business on the earth? His purpose is that none should perish. Jesus came to seek out and to save the lost. It’s the great Cause of the King. Jesus pointed to it when talking to Nicodemus.
John 3:16-17 NLT
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
How is God’s cause served?
By reaching lost people with His love. Does your life point people to Jesus, point them away from Jesus or leave people with no idea as to what you stand for?
Romans 2:4 NLT
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
So if it’s God’s kindness toward people that draws them to Him and away from their sin then it makes sense that our primary modus operandi would be to love others in the same way that He does. And as we see in the bible that’s exactly what Jesus commanded us to do.
To love him with everything we have and equally important, to love our neighbour as ourselves or as Jesus puts it in John 15, to love each other the same way he’s loved us.
Now this is where it starts to get exciting. Because this is where purpose and vision come together.
If our purpose is to serve the cause of the King which is to draw people to him by loving them deeply and authentically because that’s how Jesus loves them then the question is what will that look like in practice? What does that mean when talking about you personally. It looks different for everyone of us.
Why is that? Aren’t we expected to do the same thing? Well yes, we’re all expected to love but the interesting thing about our expression of love, is that it looks different for each of us because we’re all unique.
So when I imagine myself fruitfully living for Jesus’ purpose on the earth there are a number of things that I see which you probably won’t see when looking at your own life.
We all have the same responsibility – to go and love people to Jesus, but each of us have different talents, gifts, perspectives, experiences, education etc that make us uniquely us. Therefore our expression of love is going to be individually shaped and flavoured. Here’s the great news, none of us will be judged according to how closely we followed a particular pattern other than the pattern that God used when creating each of us individually.
In the parable of the talents each servant was given a certain amount of money according to their ability. What they were required to do wasn’t the same because they weren’t the same. Use the talent that you’ve been given with the resources that are in your hand and produce a return for the Kingdom.
I should be able to ask everyone here who calls themselves a Christian what it is that you’re doing with your life that’s producing a return on the talents and resources you have? If you can’t tell me, then who is it that you’re working for?
The things that God wants you to do for Him are things that you’ve been uniquely formed and fashioned to do. Otherwise God could be accused of being cruel and heartless. But we know that isn’t true.
Ephesians 2: (NLT)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
I like how the message puts it
He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
6 QUICK TIPS
1) Consider Your Unique Talents
Clues to your purpose can be found in your unique talents and what you simply love to do, Invariably it will serve others in a significant way. By taking note of your gifts and talents, you’ll be able to spot common themes.
2) List off people you admire.
Listing people whose lives you admire is another way to spot patterns that can reveal your passion.
3) Get More Action
You can’t just think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it. Take a mental note from Nike and Just Do It. The more we act, the clearer things become. So instead of overthinking it — Will this work out? Should I try that? What if I don’t like it? What if others don’t think it’s important? Start taking steps toward loving people to Jesus using your talents and resources and start trying new things. It will help you to get out of your own way.
The experience is the reward; clarity comes through the process of exploring. Action is where you get results.
4) Drop From Your Head to Your Heart
Your heart is your best tool to access your unique purpose and passion. Ask yourself what is it that you love to do? Start taking steps to do what you love doing, for others. When you’re inspired and connected to something that you love, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you’re naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you’ll be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most fruit, And here’s the kicker, the thing that brings you the most fruit will also be that thing that brings you the most joy – because that’s how you were created.
5) Complete this sentence…
“If I had no possibility of failing and was guaranteed success I would…”
Another one is “If money wasn’t an option I would . . . ?”
6) Don’t Limit Yourself To Just One Thing
Some of us struggle because we try to find that ONE thing that we’re meant to be doing; but trying to find only one thing is the reason why we often feel like something is missing. The notion that we have only one thing we’re meant to do with our lives limits us from fulfilling our purpose. Take me for example; I have six different job titles. I’m a pastor, writer, web designer, speaker, teacher, and mentor, and each thing I do brings me great satisfaction because they’re my passions. When you lead a passionate life you’re living your life on purpose. You’re living the way God designed you to live. You’ve found your purpose.
When we live a passion-filled life we’re living on purpose, and that my friend is the purpose of life.
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life