Take a moment to think back to when you were a child (for some of us, that is a little further back than for others!). Question: “What did you want to be when you grew up?” Maybe you dreamt of being an astronaut or a scientist or a movie star? We all had ideas of what the future might be. Sometimes those dreams become a reality, while at other times they don’t. Some of us are really clear on who and what we want to be. Others aren’t quite sure or our desires change over time.
As a kid, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had a neighbor who had lots of pets so early on I wanted to be a naturalist. I built myself a wooden ‘run’ in the backyard where I kept a few long-necked turtles and blue tongue lizards as pets. But after they either escaped or died, I lost interest in that pursuit. Then I wanted to be an architect. I was really good at three-dimensional perspective drawings but my handwriting wasn’t that neat. Then I wanted to be a cabinet maker. But after a week of work experience while in high school at a cabinet making shop, the fascination of that career died, mainly due to me spending hours sweeping up wood shavings up every day!
During my studies, I dabbled in many different jobs – working for a building renovator, a bookbinder, and a printer. Then eventually I ended up working in jobs involving music, youth work, and ultimately in various church leadership roles.
Whatever our story may be, one thing we ALL have in common is a desire to be useful. I have yet to meet a person whose aim in life was to be useless! Most people want to do something meaningful and significant in their life. They want to make a difference in the world. All of this is deep inside of us, whether we’re aware of it or not and whether we respond to it or not. As humans, we are hard-wired for a purpose. It’s in our very DNA.
I would like to suggest that our life purpose isn’t something we decide but rather something we discover. Have you ever heard that statement, “You can be anything you want to be!” It sounds good. It’s just not true! I am 6 foot 5 inches tall (using the old scale) and 100 kilograms. I will never be a jockey! I’d kill the horse 🙂 You CAN’T be anything you want to be. If you don’t believe me, just watch some of these popular talent shows on TV. You’ll inevitably see some sweet teenager whose aunt told them they would be the next Mariah Carey or Justin Timberlake. As soon as they sing those first few notes, you’ll probably go, “Nah”. You get the point.
Could it be that our Creator designed each one of us with a purpose in mind? Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, believed so and once wrote these words:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 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.” Ephesians 2:8-10. NLT
Notice that God’s love and acceptance of every human being is based on ‘grace’ – it is a free gift and not dependant on anything we have or can do to earn it. Most religions, including Christianity, forget that! We think it is about ‘grace plus …’ Anyway, that’s another subject.
Paul goes on to say that we are God’s ‘masterpiece’. Other translations use the word ‘workmanship’ or ‘handiwork’. The Greek word is poiema and it literally means a ‘work of art’. Yes, YOU and I are a work of art (not ‘a piece of work’!).
We were created (crafted or shaped) to do certain ‘good things’ prepared in advance for us to do. That means we need to take some time to reflect on – to discover – our uniqueness.
In another letter, Paul says this …
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5. The Message Bible.
In many ways, you were born ‘pre-packaged’. You have been fully equipped you for your life purpose. So, what is in your suitcase? Have you taken time to discover what has already been invested in you?
In Part 2, I’ll share a few suggestions to help you with the discovery process.