Purposeful, Intentional, Deliberate, Conscious Living

SENSING MY PURPOSE

I have a lofty prayer. It is that I help as many individuals and as many churches as possible achieve their God-given purpose. What would it look like if I achieved that? How would I go about doing that? The questions start to roll in.

It is a lofty purpose statement. I have lived with the tension of knowing that I need to quantify it for many years.

That I have this purpose statement does not make me special. That I have not come close  to achieving it does not make me a failure. I am in God’s Classroom. It is full of lessons. I am a life-long learner. I strive to practice what I preach. When I do not achieve something, when I do not do something, when I fail to do something, I am not a failure. A friend wrote me:

“It is not about what ought to be but how we handle what is. Because of what we think people expect life to be or because of what we expect life to be… we are left unfulfilled and disappointed. Real fulfilment is when we have faced “today’s” stuff, good stuff or absolutely lousy stuff, God’s way. Even to have faced it badly, but still coming back to Him, recognising Him as the forgiving gracious God, is in itself success. Whatever “today” brings, mindful that the last thing “today” brings is death, then all our plans, expectations (ours and others ), and desires stop.”

“Because you have not been able to return to full-time ministry… does not mean you have failed. I see you as a successful human-being in that, in spite of the “simul iustus et peccator” with its inner and outer struggles, you have continued in your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Satan wants to break you, but as Jesus prayed for Peter, he is praying for you and holding you up. It isn’t even about how strong you are. When Peter started to sink, Jesus held him up. It is about Jesus. We don’t even trust in our faith, but in Jesus.”

I live one day at a time. Each day I live by faith, not out of guilt. It is not easy to be unemployed. There are many things that make me feel uncomfortable. The wonderful choice before me is this: do I pursue my heart’s desires? I either do it today and tomorrow, or perhaps not at all.

Each day I hope to leverage my influence for Christ one relationship at a time. Inch by inch toward the fulfilment of my purpose. My purpose statement is a flag. Its emblem is a humble picture of Christ carrying his cross. Thoughts rush to my mind.

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6…

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HOVERING OVER MY PURPOSE

My purpose is to help as many individuals and as many churches as possible achieve their God-given purpose. I had a sense of purpose well before the serendipity moment in which this statement formed in my heart. Any life-purpose is emergent. It arises out of a mixture of our personality, our life-story, our skills and training, significant persons and events in our lives, our core beliefs and values, and other notable factors. It is an expression of our personality.

My purpose statement crystallised when a colleague reported something Carl George said. He said, ‘Churches do not need more consultants; what they need is to understand their [God-given] purposes.’ When my colleague heard that, he seemed to hear that the church does not need consultants. This was my serendipity moment. I heard one of two premier Church Consultants say that the role of the consultant is to help each church understand its God-given purpose. If they understood their God-given purpose they would not need consultants.

Church consultancy is about connecting a church’s sense of calling and its unique personality, with the profile of its surrounding community. I was invited to take a honeymoon with Church Resource Ministries Australia in its formative days. While I am attracted to consultancy, and have participated in it, my heart is in the field. There is a shortage of people who model evangelical lifestyles, hospitality, organic discipleship, organic church planting, and a shortage of healthy churches which exemplify these qualities. Most vision statements and strategic plans fail because they do not specify strategic outcomes.

An old rule of church planting is that the likelihood of success for the church planter is in direct proportion to the degree of success in church planting that the church planter has had modelled to him. This rule seems equally valid to effective leadership, discipleship, communication and so on. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule. However, as the saying goes, ‘the exception proves the rule.’ Where there are exemptions in any endeavour it is usually the result of emergent factors. These emergent factors are the coinciding of critical elements that constitute requirements for success.

We cannot hope for the coincidence of critical elements in the mission of the Church. Good planning seeks to predict what the critical elements are in any equation for a successful venture. These must be prayed for and planned for. Profiling the needs of a community needs to be undertaken. How formal the process of profiling needs to be will depend on many factors, such as the size, the location and the resources to hand of the church.

Most efforts at church planting and discipleship fail because of the lack of intentionality. There needs to be a deliberate effort to define and connect the dots between a plan and desired outcomes. Outcomes can be predicated on the basis of certain action. At the end of the day a Philosophy of Ministry and Purpose Statement need to connect with a specified target audience.

Who are the individuals and churches I wish to help achieve their God-given purpose?

How do I know that God wants me to do that?

How would I go about doing that?

How do I know those individuals and churches want to achieve their God-given purpose?

What would it look like if I achieved that?

Is the aspiration to achieve my God-given purpose or help others achieve theirs godly?

I think I will shelve answering those questions. How about you?

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… then on to Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6… etc

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FOR THE LOVE OF PEOPLE

I get my thrills from interacting with people. People are exciting, interesting, fascinating, colourful. They have personalities, hurt and bruised, expressive, joyful, insightful, historical and hysterical. They are everywhere. Just like the harvest. They are the harvest.

My relationships with people are unconditional. I cannot be everybody’s friend. Nor can everybody be my friend. But I can befriend those I meet. Near everyone reciprocates. I have asked for permission to stay in touch with people. On one occasion an owner-manager gave me his card and said I could phone him day or night. We had barely met. We chatted about things of mutual interest: work, health, coffee, driving. I had not asked to stay in touch with him. His offer was spontaneous. I have other friends available to me day or night. They have not said so; but I know that they are 24/7 personalities because they are ‘persons of peace.’

It seems to me that if I want to impact the world, then I have to leverage relationships. People may not share Christ with me, but I always share Christ with them. I do not always use words. People quickly get to know that my smile comes from Christ and from a place of hope in pain. How do they know that? Well, I sometimes use words; words that tell it like it is. For example, ‘I would not exchange the hope I have in Christ to drink beer with the devil.’ Or, ‘I am not comfortable doing [that] because I am not convinced that it is from Christ.’ Or, after a long exchange listening, ‘I do not know how your religious-ethnic-cultural back ground handles guilt. What I am grateful for is knowing that I do not have to dismiss my guilt as though it were a useless emotion.  Because Jesus forgave my sin and guilt I have been able to talk about it with my family.’

Wherever I go I see people in pain. Not all people are in pain. Thank God! Everyone, though, is either trying to avoid relationships or find meaningful relationships. Some people are scared of people. I can understand that. I am scary at times. I do not have to look in a mirror to be scared by myself. I can be scary serious. But not so serious that I have been told not to laugh at something. I do not laugh so much at comedy. I laugh at life —  more than most; so I think.

It’s all about people. Even church is all about people. If  ‘The Church’ is the only organisation which exists for the sake of non-members, then why are we so scared of people? The church cannot fulfil any purpose on earth, it cannot glorify God, it cannot make disciples, if it does not care about people. We jump from ‘The Great Commission’ to make disciples, to ‘The Great Commandments’ to love God and other people. ‘The Letters of John’ in The Bible tell us that we cannot love God unless we love others; not even hate one and still love God. Thank Jesus for forgiveness. I am on the road to loving God and others.

There is no purpose so great of any eternal worth that can evade the love of people for the love of God. I can only fulfil my life purpose one day at a time, one person at a time, one relationship at a time. If I can leverage relationships, influence the influencers, or leverage my time to influence more people I will. But, I had better know who influences what for better or worse, and what it is that I want to influence people to.

‘We love because he first loved us.’

I John 4: 19

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… then on to Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6… etc

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